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Who could have predicted the mess in Iraq?

Who could have predicted that terrorists groups like ISIS would overrun Iraq if America pursued a precipitous withdrawal of troops? It turns out that this result was entirely predictable and was in fact predicted by previous commander-in-chief in 2007. In a remarkably accurate warning, President Bush said this:

I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we’re ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaida. It’d mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It’d mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It’d mean we’d be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.

All of this has happened and is happening right now. (HT: Brit Hume)


  • James Stanton

    Denny, are you aware that it was President Bush that signed a binding Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Iraq that committed the United States military to withdraw all troops from Iraqi soil by the end of 2011?

    You need to reconcile President Bush’s words here with his later action if you going to present him a source of wisdom on the likely future of Iraq.

    I’m not even going to go into how President Bush started this whole mess in the first place but I think it’s fairly relevant.

      • Roy Fuller

        No, the withdrawal of US forces, which under the Status of Forces agreement was to take place by Dec. 31, 2011, was not contingent upon the Iraqis doing anything. The agreement was more about providing some safeguards for US troops from prosecution in Iraqi courts. Bush’s quote above (from 2007) was much more about his concern that the US public was growing weary of war (they were), and his concern at that time (2007) that his administration would not be able to stabilize the political situation, or at least bring an end to the horrific violence. As James has indicated, in 2008 Bush signed the agreement to regulate the relationship between our military and the Iraqi government (from 2008-2011), at the the end of which time all American forces were to be withdrawn. The agreement could have permitted the US forces to withdraw before Dec. 31, 2011. Many people in the Bush administration were hoping for another agreement which would have permitted a US military presence in Iraq after 2011, but that did not happen, because the Iraqi government did not want it. The Obama administration had continued the effort to secure a long term agreement, but that failed, again because the Iraqi government would not agree, so the Obama administration, following the agreement put in place by the Bush administration concluded our troop withdrawal in Dec. 2011.

        With regard to Bush’s prophetic voice, anybody who understood the situation could have predicted what would happen, especially in light the the Maliki government’s refusal to include Sunnis in the government. Knowing something would likely happen does not mean that the US was in a position to alter the situation where we now find ourselves. If we do believe in democracy, and believe that people should have a right to self-determination and self-government, the decisions of the Iraqi government, which we helped put into place, needed to be respected. They have gotten burned (by Sunni insurgent group ISIL) and have made changes to their government, and have asked for outside help to squash this insurgency. Innocent life needs to be protected, but the US, while helping the Iraqi government, cannot become (or become again) the military of Iraq. Ultimately, the solution will be political, not military, even as their will be a need for a military action against ISIL.

  • jimwillingham

    It might help to know something about the New World Order of which the Bushes spoke frequently. Seems that the Report from Iron Mountain and Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope and Dodd’s School of Darkness and a host of other works spelled it our for us that some folks think they control it all and now they are moving to show us that they do. The Guidestones in Georgia tell us that they plan to get rid of the excess population, anywhere from 5.5 billion to 6.5 billion. A school that exists to snag bright students for the one world government put the question to our 11 year sold son in 1983, “If you were an official in a world government and had an over population problem with a country in Africa, how would you handle it? a. Have a war and kill them off. b. Use an infectious agent, germ, or disease, and kill them off. c. Let them starve.” That same question was on a state department exam taken by a personal friend, now a retired navy chaplain. You might try reading stuff outside the box on why these things get started. Of course, it helps, if you are not too brain washed, to know people who know about the conspiracy that runs things. One illustration. A friend had a member in his church who kept telling him about the evil. He even gave his pastor a copy of the Quigley work (Mr. Clinton’s mentor, prof. of International Relations at Georgetown, recommended Clinton for the Rhodes to Oxford. Anyway he told his pastor (my friend) about his family being a part of the thing and how they had kicked him out (they do that if you don’t go along to get along, to use a common expression of the old South long ago. My pastor friend never bought it until it was way too late to do anything about it, and he still would have problems, if he did not have Alzheimers. O yes, and you can even go back to Washington who had something interesting to say about the Illuminati, like he knew they were already in America.

  • Matt Martin

    Everyone predicted it. It doesn’t matter if we were to pull out of Iraq 50 years from now. With each occupation/war and drone strike, a new breed of terrorist grows that will outdo their fathers. The only solution is to stay out of the Middle East.

  • buddyglass

    Maintaining a permanent and significant military presence in Iraq was never an option. The writing was probably on the wall as soon as we took out the Ba’ath government. I do wonder, though, whether after removing Hussein the coalition might have profited from dividing Iraq into separate Sunni, Shia and Kurdish countries. I suppose the concern would have been that the new Shia state would end up a vassal of Iran.

    • Roy Fuller

      You raise a point that other have also raised. Iraq is a somewhat artificial state, in that it was formerly at least 3 partial provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Iraq’s borders were drawn by Europeans under the Sykes–Picot Agreement in 1916. From an ethnic and religious perspective, Iraq is somewhat unique in the Muslim world, in that it is almost evenly divided between Sunni and Shia, which Shia holding a majority. It is possible that your suggestion might yet play out, as the Kurds are more than ready to establish Kurdistan in the north. Turkey has resisted that move, but might be more accepting as a Kurdistan would be a buffer between them and extremists insurgents (think ISIL and others). Any Shia state in the region will have some connections to Iran, as Iran is the center of Shia culture and education.

    • Chris Ryan

      I think the big concern was that the oil revenues don’t neatly divide up among sectarian lines, so that you might have a circumstance where the Shia would get less than their per-capita share of oil.

      • James Stanton

        This is one of the pitfalls of tribalism. It’s almost impossible to remain objective and properly contextualize events.

        As Roy said, Bush gave this quote in the middle of the surge when he was facing increasing domestic opposition to the state of the war in Iraq. There is a clear contradiction with his intent in the quote and with his later administrative policy,

        If only he had uttered these thoughts prior to making the decision to invade Iraq with a pretext for pre-emptive war. That would have been a truly prescient statement.

  • Bill Hickman

    1. Start U.S. war in Iraq over the objections of the international community and based on cherry-picked intelligence.
    2. Watch as U.S. war puts Iraq on the brink of chaos.
    3. Correctly predict that chaos will ensue if U.S. war ends.
    4. Enjoy praise for your judgment and foresight!

  • James Bradshaw

    I was not a fan of Bush and I did not support the invasion because I believed (and still do) that the claims of WMDs were trumped up and that Hussein never posed a direct threat.

    Having said that, Bush had good reasons to believe that a Hussein-free Iraq would prove a stabilizing influence in the Middle East. Iraq was a mostly secular country which permitted some degree of religious freedom for Christians and non-Muslims and even extended a great deal more freedom to women than even Saudi Arabia (our supposed “allies”). They even permitted the sale of alcohol.

    Who would have known the degree of control Hussein had over Muslim fanatics in the region who, from the looks of it, are even more bloodthirsty and ruthless than he was?

    Many believed that the moderate populations of the Middle East would embrace democracy and fight to retain it once it was given to them. That has not been the case. Instead, the removal of tyrants only allows violent and fanatical sectarian groups to rise and flourish.

    I’m not sure what the answer is at this point. We can’t withdraw from the region entirely without diminishing the already eroding presence of peace-loving men and women in the region.

  • Robert Karl

    Bill Hickman—you are wise and concise. Why did we go over there in the first place.

    Denny–where is the outrage on your blog on the Christians who are getting killed and displaced in Iraq. These Christians are from the first generation of Christians. Look at their faith and how they worship-compared to that in the USA–who are the truly authentic Christians.

  • Chris Ryan

    Buddy hits the nail on the head above. Bush/Cheney’s preference to leave 250K troops fighting in Iraq until the end of time is no real option. The problem isn’t with Obama’s decision to pull out troops, the problem is with Bush’s decision to invade. That’s what let the genie out of the bottle. Leaving troops there didn’t even make sense in a cost-benefit way. ISIS has killed what, 3 Americans? Meanwhile leaving troops in all this time would’ve resulted in hundreds of Americans KIA.

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