Enough Iraq blame to go around for Obama, Bush

“Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”

When I first read that sentence in a column co-written by former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Elizabeth Cheney, I thought that they must be referring to President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2002. But, no, the Cheney duo was talking about President Barack Obama’s decision to pull American troops out of Iraq.

Actually, the decision to pull American troops out of Iraq was made by President Bush in 2008 when he signed the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement that required all U.S. forces to be out of Iraq by December 31, 2011. The final contingent of U.S. troops moved out of Iraq on December 16, 2011. For the record, in 2011, Iraq refused to negotiate an agreement allowing U.S. troops to stay longer.

Interestingly, it was President Bush, on May 2, 2003, who declared that “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed” as he stood under a “Mission Accomplished” banner on the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln. It would be another eight years, however, before the last American troops left Iraq.

Even Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly was surprised by the Cheney statement. To her credit, Kelly responded by asking Cheney, “With almost a trillion dollars spent there, with almost 4,500 American lives lost there, what do you say to those who say you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?”

Cheney’s response: “I just fundamentally disagree.”

Cheney can disagree all he wants, but history will record that he and others in the Bush administration were wrong about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, their primary reason for invading Iraq in the first place. That decision cost thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives and the destruction of the Iraqi government, including police and other security personnel. This made Iraq, in the words of Sen. Rand Paul, “a jihadist wonderland.”

Bush’s defense secretary, Donald Rumsfield, was wrong when he estimated in January 2003 that the war would cost “under $50 million.” In fact, the war cost over a trillion dollars.

White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey was wrong in 2003 when he stated that, “The successful prosecution of the war would be good for the economy.” In fact, by 2008 America fell into the Great Recession.

Cheney got it wrong when he said that American troops would be “greeted as liberators.” Instead, 4,500 Americans were killed and thousands more disabled for life.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Republicans are holding dozens of congressional investigations because four Americans died in Benghazi during the Obama administration.

Bush was wrong when he declared on May 5, 2003, that, “Al-Qaida is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated.”

Indeed, over 11 years ago, Bush declared that al-Qaida was “being decimated.” But five years later, on July 31, 2008, Bush had to settle for “al-Qaida is on the run in Iraq.” So we went from al-Qaida being “slowly but surely being decimated” in 2003 to al-Qaida being “on the run” in 2008.

Obama is also guilty of being overly optimistic about “progress” in Iraq during his presidency. In fact, no matter how many terrorists we killed in Iraq during the Bush and Obama administrations, and no matter how much training we provided for the Iraqi army, fighting among the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites remains as the heart of the problem and the cause of the current conflict there. These folks have been fighting each other for hundreds of years, and no outside force, including American advisers, troops or drones, can solve this problem for the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites.

Rarely has America been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.

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