In December of 2011, President Obama chose to remove all the American troops from Iraq to keep his campaign pledge. He did this in opposition to the desires of the Iraqi government, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, American military commanders, and many of his own cabinet, including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
These troops left an Iraq that was, according to another former Obama Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, “in pretty good shape…because we had a presence and we had influence so we could restrain (the former Shia Iraqi Prime Minister’s) worst instincts, which were anti-Sunni, and we could ensure that the leaders of the Iraqi security forces were competent and well-trained, instead of a bunch of political hacks…”
As Secretary Gates essentially predicted, if and when the U.S. departed, things would change for the worse. The Shiite majority government in Iraq ran roughshod over the Sunni minority, prompting greater Sunni support for the former Al Qaida in Iraq organization, and the eventual creation of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).
The violent, anti-Western, anti-Semitic, and genocidal ISIL has been responsible for, or a participant in, almost continual warfare in Iraq and adjoining Syria, and is now spreading its tentacles to Libya, Afghanistan, the Sinai, Nigeria, Europe, etc. It has also executed three American journalists, taking other Americans hostage, including a female aid worker who was repeatedly raped and then killed by the ISIL leader, and worked with and/or inspired radical Muslims in America to plan and conduct attacks in the American homeland.
Even many observers sympathetic to President Obama are hard pressed to defend his decision to leave Iraq. But President Obama has a ready response – it’s President Bush’s fault!
President Obama and his partisans instead shift the blame for the current chaos and violence in Iraq (and Syria), and more specifically, the rise of the Islamic State (ISIL), to the Bush (II) Administration’s 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.
But in making their case, Obama Administration partisans seldom make much effort to more fully delve into this subject. This is unfortunate, as it is a debate worth having. For starters, here’s my take. See: Thinking it through: What if Saddam had survived in power?
There are essentially two pertinent questions here: 1) in a hypothetical world where the U.S. did not invade and occupy Iraq in 2003, would the ISIL exist?; 2) and overall, in such a hypothetical world, would the Middle East be a more peaceful, a more democratic, and a more pro-American place today? Logically, there are a number of different potential scenarios for Iraq in this theoretical world. Saddam Hussein could have continued to rule securely over Iraq from 2003 to 2015. This may be referred to as the “Strong Hussein” scenario. Or, Saddam Hussein could have continued to rule over Iraq from 2003 to 2015, but in a weakened state. This may be called the “Weak Hussein” scenario. Or, Saddam Hussein might have been ousted sometime during the past twelve years – a “Hussein Free” scenario, which could, in turn, have lead to a vast number of alternative possibilities. Each of these situations should be assessed separately.
Of course, the decision by President Obama to remove the troops might also have resulted in alternate scenarios. However, because of the shortened time span – only two and a half years from the troop removal to the declaration of the ISIL – there are far fewer possibilities to consider. And in the end, that is probably what makes former Obama officials, and current and former military officials, so confident that President Obama’s 2011 decision to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq directly led to ISIL and the chaos currently engulfing the Middle East.
I agree with them. President Obama is directly at fault for the rise of the ISIL, and the chaos in the Middle East. He really should acknowledge his mistake, and apologize for it.
Originally published on World Tribune: https://www.worldtribune.com/credit-where-credit-is-due-bush-toppled-saddam-obama-gave-rise-to-a-genocidal-nightmare/