Don’t Blame Iraq on Obama Alone
Some Republicans are indulging in revisionist history.

I’ve just written Faithless Execution, a book positing that there is such a solid legal case of high crimes and misdemeanors committed by the president that the time is ripe to build a political case for his impeachment. I have argued, moreover, that the president’s policy of appeasing and empowering Islamic supremacists has been a national-security catastrophe, catalyzing a jihadist resurgence across the Middle East.

It is pretty safe to say I am no fan of Barack Obama’s. But it is just as safe to say that for Beltway Republicans to blame Obama alone for the implosion of Iraq — which is now being overrun by the same Sunni jihadists those Republicans have championed in Syria and Libya — is shameful.

Look, I will stipulate that the president’s signature recklessness is abundantly evident in Iraq. He heedlessly withdrew U.S. forces, making no effort to preserve the security gains they achieved in routing al-Qaeda, even as it became obvious that the withdrawal had evaporated those gains and invited the terror network to return with a vengeance.


Still, it was not Obama who agreed to the withdrawal schedule. It was President Bush. And it was not Obama who turned Iraq into an Islamic-supremacist state seething with anti-American and anti-Semitic hatred. Long before Obama came to power, Iraq was an Islamist country, rife with Sunni and Shiite militants who agreed on little else besides their devotion to sharia and their abhorrence of the West.

In late 2008, several weeks before Obama entered the Oval Office, I wrote here about the status of forces agreement (SOFA) the Bush administration was then entering into with the ingrate Shiite government of Nouri al-Maliki. Even then, Iraq was pulling ever closer to the terrorist regime in Iran while American troops continued fighting to protect Maliki’s fledgling government from al-Qaeda jihadists — jihadists that the insidious mullahs were also supplying with money, training, and IEDs.

In the SOFA, the Bush administration agreed to strict withdrawal deadlines that invited al-Qaeda to catch its breath, wait out the United States, then resume the jihad as Americans were leaving — the better to make it look to the world like they were chasing us out. All American combat operations were to cease in mid 2009; and, at the end of 2011, all American forces would pull out of Iraq. The 2008 SOFA is the basis for the American withdrawal that Obama so anxiously consummated. It is what promised a resumption of Islam’s eternal, internecine bloodletting between Sunnis and Shiites that now has Iraq on the verge of collapse.

To listen to Republicans and those who foolishly repeat their revisionist history, you would think Obama inherited the Iraq so delusionally envisioned by Islamic-democracy-project devotees: a free, pluralistic democracy that would be a reliable counterterrorism ally and a thorn in totalitarian Iran’s side.

In reality, Iraq remains an incorrigible sharia society in which the persecution of religious minorities and homosexuals is routine. Far from democratizing the country in any cultural sense, Bush officials fortified these tendencies by encouraging Iraq’s adoption of a constitution that enshrined Islam as the state religion and sharia as a primary source of law. Under American occupation, Iraq continued to shun diplomatic relations with Israel and to cheer the “resistance” waged by Hamas and Hezbollah. It sought closer ties with Tehran, a desire the Bush administration indulged on the fantasy rationale that Iran had a strong interest in a stable Iraq — even as everyone knew Iran was fueling anti-American terrorism in Iraq by both Shiite and Sunni jihadist cells.

Why did President Bush agree to the SOFA on his way out of office (under the pressure of a December 31, 2008, expiration of the U.N. mandate approving U.S. military operations there)? Because it was the best deal he could get in an Islamist country that despises America.

Beginning in 2003, fatwas calling for violent jihad against American forces in Iraq were issued by influential sharia jurists, including Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi and Sheikh Abdulla bin Bayyah (who are now Obama administration consultants). Because our government eschews the study of Islamic-supremacist ideology, most Americans remain unaware that these fatwas represented a mainstream interpretation of sharia in the Muslim Middle East: If Western forces occupy Islamic territory, and especially if they are peddling concepts like Western democracy, they must be driven out — even if, in their own minds, they are do-gooders trying to make life better for Muslims.

The Iraqi mindset was obvious in public polling: In 2008, four in ten Iraqis continued to see Americans as legitimate terror targets — and the figure had recently hovered close to six in ten. Fully 80 percent of Iraqis said they wanted Americans to vacate their country. In the one vestige of Iraqi democracy about which the Bush administration could brag, the nation’s holding of popular elections, candidates competed with each other over who could most strenuously condemn the United States and demand that our troops leave yesterday.