On Monday night, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney had an exchange about ending the war in Iraq. While Obama and his campaign surrogates have taken credit for winding down this unnecessary war, Romney noted that the administration wanted to leave about 5,000 troops as part of a “status of forces agreement” with the Iraqi government. Obama denied it.
Did Obama really end the war in Iraq and is Romney right when he says that the administration wanted to leave troops? Over at AntiWar.com, John Glaser sets the record straight on the exchange and what the Obama Administration really wanted in Iraq (emphasis mine):
President Obama has consistently claimed in this campaign that he “ended the war in Iraq.” But this couldn’t be further from the truth: his administration tried desperately for months to establish a new Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq which would have left thousands of US troops there, perhaps indefinitely. Only when this effort failed, did Obama fall back on the Bush administration’s policy of pulling all troops out in 2011.
Romney correctly insisted President Obama had the same preference as he did to sign a new Status of Forces Agreement on Iraq, leaving thousands of US troops there, but failed to get Baghdad to agree to it.
“With regards to Iraq,” Romney said, “you and I agreed I believe that there should be a status of forces agreement.”
Obama balked and tried to deny this accurate charge, because it conflicted with his attempts to claim he ended the war in Iraq, and to highlight Romney’s recent statement that the US should still have up to 20,000 troops in Iraq.
Written by Justin Logan, Director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Imagine a world in which the Iraq War had gone exactly as marketed. The United States invaded in March 2003. The Iraqis, with the help of Ahmed Chalabi, rapidly transitioned to become a stable, liberal democracy allied with the United States against Iran. The marvelous and smooth transformation had ripple effects throughout the region: a handful of Arab states followed suit, and the United States had drawn down to under 30,000 troops in country by September 2003, setting up a basing agreement with the new Iraqi government to stay indefinitely. Few American lives were lost, the swamp of terrorism was drained, and an oil pipeline has just been completed running from Iraq to the Israeli port city of Haifa.
Imagine, at the same time, that opponents of the war, despite having gotten every major judgment about the prudence and consequences of the war comically wrong, had been vaulted to positions of power and prestige in foreign affairs commentary. Meanwhile, the war’s proponents, despite their support for a strategy that yielded huge strategic dividends for the United States at a low cost, were banished to the wilderness, heard from sporadically on a few blogs and at a think tank or two.
It would be strange, wouldn’t it?
And yet that situation is roughly analogous to the one in which we find ourselves today, except in real life the war was an enormous disaster, just as its opponents predicted, and the proponents of the war are the ones in denial about its implications. Foremost among the salespeople for war who have yet to come to grips with the facts are the members of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board.
Seeking to score some points in the aftermath of the disaster in Libya and ahead of two debates that will touch on the subject, Mitt Romney gave a speech yesterday in Virginia outlining his foreign policy viewsin the Middle East, notes the Washington Post:
In what was billed as a major foreign policy address, Mitt Romney blasted President Obama’s leadership in the Middle East on Monday, saying that a withering of American resolve had made the region a more dangerous place where the United States has less leverage.
“Hope is not a strategy,’’ Romney said.
Romney said he knows “the president hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States. I share this hope.”
But he added: “We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds.”
The address mostly repackaged things Romney has said before, sometimes with greater precision. The Republican offered few specific ways he would change the Obama administration’s current approach.
Although he made broad critiques of Obama’s “passivity,” Romney did not call for any new armed intervention in any Mideast conflict.
During an interview on Face the Nation, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley was asked by Bob Schieffer if the country was better off today that it was four years ago. O’Malley, who is thought to be looking at a presidential run in 2016, stunningly admitted that it’s not:
No,” replied O’Malley, a prominent Obama surrogate, adding “but that’s not the question of this election.”
“Without a doubt, we are not as well off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses, the Bush recessions, the Bush deficits, the series of desert wars, charged for the first time to credit cards — the national credit card,” he added, according to a transcript.
At least part of his initial response was honest, that being that the country isn’t better off. He’s since backed off that statement. But look, there is not question that Bush is responsible for huge budget deficits, but President Obama hasn’t exactly done anything to put an end to the river of red ink flowing from Washington. If fact, with four years of $1 trillion budget deficits, he’s made it worse.
The anti-war movement has all but disappeared. You would think that with both major party conventions coming up, they would take the opportunity to demonstrate, especially with the media being concentrated at the conventions. However, there are no plans to demonstrate and in fact you don’t hear a whole lot about the war in Afghanistan anymore. Short of putting Cindy Sheehan’s face on a milk carton, we really need to find where the anti-war movement has gone because 2,000 American soldiers have now died in Afghanistan. If war was bad when George W. Bush was president, why isn’t it bad now that Barack Obama is in the Oval Office?
Not only has Obama expanded the war in Afghanistan and kept Bush’s Iraq withdrawal timeline; he even started a new war in Libya. Plus, the Obama administration appears to heading down the road to war with both Syria and Iran. Obviously, the wars have not stopped. American soldiers have not stopped dying overseas and drone strikes certainly haven’t stopped all over the world. Why has the press and so-called anti-war activists ignored the ongoing wars?
The only unfortunate conclusion to make is that the anti-war movement were either at best pawns of the Democratic Party or they really don’t have a problem with war in general, but only with wars launched by Republican presidents. This isn’t just a phenomenon confined to the left, because the right only generally believe in limited government when a Democrat is president. All this means is that when a Republican is elected president and decides to go to war, it will be easy to dismiss war opponents as partisan hacks. It will be just a way to silence debate and opposition by the War Party.
MSNBC weekend show host Chris Hayes made some comments about heroism and the military on Sunday. He said:
I feel… uncomfortable, about the word [hero] because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don’t want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that’s fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism, you know, hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers, and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I’m wrong about that.
Hayes has since apologized. Personally, I take Hayes at his word that he did not intend to insult American soldiers and veterans. I think he was trying to make a point about militarism and war in general, but said it poorly. I think it’s certainly a legitimate discussion to have and Memorial Day
Gov. Gary Johnson’s team has released a new web video promoting a message of peace as polls show a war weary nation. In the video, Johnson’s team labels Republicans as “Thelma” and Democrats as “Louise,” noting that both parties “have a death wish” because they seem to want perpetual war:
As Mitt Romney has moved into “presumptive nominee” status, the focus has shifted to whom he might choose to be his running mate. The conventional wisdom states that Romney would pick someone to his right, in order to shore up support from conservatives who distrust him. While it is still only April, the name that I see popping up the most is Senator Marco Rubio from Florida.
It’s not hard to see his appeal to the Republican base. Rubio is a child of Cuban immigrants. He is charismatic, smart, and attractive. He has a beautiful family, has connections to both Protestant and Catholic churches, and speaks openly about his faith. His positions are largely in line with the conservative base - strongly pro-life, anti-ObamaCare, and hawkish on foreign policy.
But for those of us hoping the Republican Party can take a new direction, Rubio poses a number of problems. As Jason Pye blogged earlier this week, Rubio proudly declared that George W. Bush was a “fantastic President”. One has to seriously question what exactly he thinks was fantastic about Bush. Was it his wild spending and vast expansion of government in the form of Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind? Perhaps it was the unnecessary Iraq War which cost thousands of lives? Or maybe it was his mistreatment of prisoners? It’s troubling that Rubio considers these things “fantastic.”
Are you pro-peace or pro-war? This is a question not only every politician should have to answer but also every American should ask themselves.
Most Americans would answer that question by saying that in their daily lives they are Pro-Peace and as a corollary they would agree that Force should only be used to defend a person’s life or Property. Why is it then when these same Americans, whose daily lives are built upon Peaceful interactions with their fellow human beings vote for politicians who are decidedly Pro-War?
Everyone around the world is just trying to live the best they can. That includes those folks in this country who not only advocate for Collectivism but also advocate for war. In this country the citizens who advocate for war overseas and “Obamacare” at home really believe that this is the best way to better their own lives and the lives of their families.
“To subsist to better one’s condition to bring up a family are not affairs of time, or place, or taste, or opinion, or choice, they are the daily constant and unavoidable concerns of all men at all times and in all countries” Frederic Bastiat
There are only two ways to gain what you desire in this world, that is from free and voluntary exchange or by appropriating it from others by force. Those who are Pro-Peace believe hat the best way for them and everyone else in the world is to improve their lot in life is through peaceful Free Trade. Those who are Pro-War believe in forcibly taking what another has produced by force or as Bastiat called it “spoliation” or “plunder”.
George Will, easily the best conservative writer out there, penned a great colum at the Washington Post explaining why Republicans need to whining about proposed reductions in defense spending and withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan:
The U.S. defense budget is about 43 percent of the world’s total military spending — more than the combined defense spending of the next 17 nations, many of which are U.S. allies. Are Republicans really going to warn voters that America will be imperiled if the defense budget is cut 8 percent from projections over the next decade? In 2017, defense spending would still be more than that of the next 10 countries combined.
Do Republicans think it is premature to withdraw as many as 7,000 troops from Europe two decades after the Soviet Union’s death? About 73,000 will remain, most of them in prosperous, pacific, largely unarmed and utterly unthreatened Germany. Why do so many remain?