Declaring Oct. 21 that he would fulfill a campaign promise to end the Iraq War, President Barack Obama announced that all U.S. forces would be removed from Iraq by year’s end. “I think it’s a serious mistake. And there were never really serious negotiations between the administration and Iraqis. They could have clearly made an arrangement for U.S. troop,” said Obama’s 2008 rival Sen. Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain hasn’t gotten over his bitter defeat to Obama in 2008, sparing no opportunity to attack Barack on nearly every issue. Begun on false premises, former President George W. Bush started the Iraq War eight-and-a-half years ago March 20, 2003, claiming that the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. When WMD were not found, the White House was disgraced.
Disappointing many antiwar activists, Obama kept the war going over three years since taking office, finally pulling the plug last Friday. With over 4,500 deaths, the Iraq War was a painful reminder that a president’s decision to go to war can never be taken lightly. In the wake of Sept. 11, Bush couldn’t take any chances with terrorists threatening U.S. national security. Nearly 3,000 U.S. citizens lost their lives when Saudi –born terrorist Osama bin Laden flew airliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11. Bush had nearly unanimous support when he launched Operation Enduring Freedom Oct. 7, 2001, going after the Taliban in Afghanistan for harboring Bin Laden. It took only five weeks before the Taliban fell Nov. 14, 2001. Over the objections of Dr. Hans Blix and his team of U.N. weapons inspectors, Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom a year-and-a-half later.
Apart from political reasons during an election years, McCain’s objections to leaving Iraq are the same as the former Bush administration, though former Vice President Dick Cheney warned of an al-Qaeda takeover. Since Obama announced plans to fold the U.S. tent in Iraq last Friday, McCain has warned of a growing Iranian threat. “Yes, I’m here in the region. And, yes, it is viewed in the region as a victory for the Iranians,” McCain told George Stepahnopolos on ABC’s “This Week.” What’s beyond ironic is that McCain, his GOP colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee and former Bush administration officials knew since Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took office May 20, 2006 had close ties to radical Shiite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Al Maliki sheltered al-Sadr after he was hunted by the U.S. military.
After the first bloody battle of Fallujah April 4, 2004, the U.S. battled al-Sadr and his 10,000-member al-Mahdi militia, believed responsible for the barbaric massacre of Blackwater Security personnel, stringing up their corpses on a bridge crossing the Euphrates River. Al-Sadr’s militia sent a loud message to the U.S. military that, no matter how much al-Sadr hated Saddam Hussein, he hated the U.S. more. After the second battle of Fallujah Nov. 7, 2004, al-Sadr went incognito, eventually given safe passage by al-Maliki to Tehran Feb. 14, 2007. Al-Maliki repaid al-Sadr for letting him use his al-Mahdi army as his personal security force to consolidate his power. “So I think it’s—it’s a serious mistake. I believe we could have negotiated an agreement. And I’m very, very concerned about increased Iranian influence in Iraq,” said McCain, totally ignoring al-Maliki’s historically close ties to Tehran.
When Iraq’s parliament refused to grant the U.S. military immunity to U.S. military trainers Oct. 15, Obama decided to pull the plug. Knowing al-Maliki’s close ties to Tehran, Obama should have pulled the plug long ago, knowing that al-Maliki was probably sharing military intelligence with Iran. McCain knows full-well al-Maliki’s ties to Tehran. Given al-Maliki’s close ties to al-Sadr and Tehran, the U.S. should have ended U.S. involvement years ago. Whatever happens to the political structure in Iraq, allowing al-Maliki to share intel with Tehrn compromises U.S. national security. ‘The decision will be viewed as a strategic victory for our enemies in the Middle East, especially the Iranian regime, which has worked relentlessly to ensure a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq,” said Fredrick Kagan, credited as the architect of the Iraqi “troop surge.”
Blasting Obama for pulling out of Iraq is simply egregious politics, given al-Maliki’s close historic ties to Tehran. Whether you believe in the Iraq War or not, spending nearly nine years supporting a government with close ties to Iran shows callous disregard with U.S. national security. All responsible elected officials can’t possibly believe that the U.S. hasn’t overstayed its welcome in Iraq. Spending untold billions and costing thousands of lives, the Iraq War has done more harm than good to the U.S. military and economy. Asserting that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein is no excuse for the loss of American lives and damage to the economy. Instead of playing politics, McCain and his GOP colleagues should congratulate the president for a decision long overdue. Calling Obama’s decision an “astonishing failure,” former Mass. Gov. and GOP frontrunner Mtt Romney should be ashamed.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.