Daily Archives: December 25, 2011

Andrew Sullivan on Iraqi Imperialism

Another Big Lie

via The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan by Andrew Sullivan on 12/24/11

Leave aside the insanity of still believing that the Iraq war was some kind of success. I guess some have to cling to that absurdity. But look at the argument now being made by the neocons:

President Obama missed the boat on tax reform. He put politics above entitlement reform. He worsened already-tense relations with Israel. But the worst error, in large part because it was both avoidable and is not irreversible, was to pull all troops out of Iraq.

This was agreed by president Bush years ago. It was insisted upon by a sovereign Iraqi government, that includes the Sadrite faction that made withdrawal of all US troops its non-negotiable demand. And yet Jennifer Rubin can simply state as fact that this was Obama’s decision and his alone. You could argue, I suppose, that Obama should have fought harder to keep troops there – but at the most, there was a plan for a few thousand pushed by the neo-imperialists at the Pentagon. Does anyone seriously believe that a token training force of that magnitude would have made any difference to the long-predicted outbreak of sectarian warfare, which the invasion created and never resolved. Here’s Pete Wehner, who surely knows better:

Obama was handed a war that was largely won. What America had given to Iraq is what the Arab scholar Fouad Ajami called “the foreigner’s gift.” But Iraq being Iraq, maintaining an American troop presence there, separate from engaging in combat operations, was necessary if Iraq was ever to become whole again. President Obama has undone much of what had been achieved there, almost in the blink of an eye. And when the history of his administration is written, it increasingly looks as if he will be fairly judged to have been the man who lost Iraq.

This is deranged. The “foreigner’s gift” was a raging sectarian war that claimed up to a hundred thousand lives and did not achieve the removal of WMDs, since they did not exist. The war in Iraq, depirved of its original WMD justification, was never “won” in the broader, subsequent sense either. There was no final reconciliation of the sectarian factions, no meaningful inclusion of Sunnis into the government apparatus, no final settlement with the Kurds, no oil-sharing deal, not even a framework for regional autonomy. What was achieved was a face-saving exit strategy which miraculously worked.

And Bush handed Obama a December 2011 formal, legal, binding deadline for the withdrawal of all US troops. The Iraqi government decided to stick to the deadline. That’s it. And notice the implication of Rubin’s and Wehner’s argument: the US should have kept troops in Iraq against the wishes of the Iraqi government. They really think Iraq belongs to America.

That is the definition of imperialism. And it is alive and well at the Washington Post.