As the Iraq war winds down and American troops prepare to withdraw from the country by the December 31 deadline, Republicans are becoming increasingly desperate to ensure that President Obama does not receive any credit for the ending the eight year old conflict. On the day same day that Obama visited Arlington National cemetery with Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, a number of prominent Republican came out against the upcoming troop withdrawal, claiming that it will endanger national security, undo the progress that has been made in Iraq, and ultimately mean that America has “lost” the war.
There’s just one problem: Obama is merely following the plan agreed to by President George W. Bush in 2008, and Republicans who supported troop withdrawals then are now rapidly reversing their positions.
Arizona senator John McCain released a scathing statement in response to Obama’s planned withdrawal, blaming domestic politics — a clear shot at the president — for jeopardizing the outcome of the war.
“Domestic political considerations in each country have been allowed to trump our common security interests…All of the progress that both Iraqis and Americans have made, at such painful and substantial cost, has now been put at greater risk. I hope I am wrong, but I fear I am not. It did not have to be this way, and the fact that it is has everything to do with a failure of vision, commitment and leadership both in Washington and Baghdad.”
This is remarkably different from what McCain said about the Status of Forces Agreement in 2008, when President Bush was in the White House.
I am pleased that, following the surge strategy led by General David Petraeus and our brave men and women in uniform, security in Iraq has improved to the point at which we can responsibly talk with our Iraqi allies about U.S. troop withdrawals. Because of the hard-won success of this strategy, the Iraqi security forces are able to take on ever greater responsibility for security in their country.
Considering that U.S. troop casualties have declined from 314 in 2008 to just 53 in 2011, it is hard to understand why McCain thought that the country was secure enough for a withdrawal then, but it isn’t now. Perhaps McCain simply believes that Iraqis — like McCain’s Republican colleagues in Congress — will only be able to accomplish anything while a Republican is in the White House.
Along the same lines, Liz Cheney — the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney — ranted against Obama’s foreign policy on Fox News Sunday. Video of Cheney’s appearance is below, courtesy of Media Matters.
“[Obama,] right now, as commander in chief, is performing abysmally with respect to Afghanistan and Iraq,” Cheney says in the video. “He’s about to snatch defeat from what was a victory in Iraq, by pulling everybody out…We’ve got these two wars that have been incredibly important and in which we have sacrificed tremendous lives and treasure. This president’s performance means that we may well lose both wars.”
Cheney’s comments are perhaps even more hypocritical than McCain’s, considering that she served in the State Department (and her father served as Vice President) in the administration that wrote the timeline for withdrawal that Cheney is upset about. Furthermore, it’s hard to figure how anyone could consider the Iraq War to be a victory from 2003 to 2008, and a defeat thereafter. Cheney was apparently paying attention when President Bush declared that the Iraq War was a“mission accomplished,” but not when he signed the Status of Forces Agreement which paved the way for the end of the war.