NYT: Iraq withdrawal outcome of Obama negotiating failure

posted at 12:30 pm on October 22, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

When Barack Obama announced yesterday that all US troops would return from Iraq, he framed it as a campaign promise kept, although Obama promised to pull the troops out in 16 months and ended up sticking with the timeline set by George Bush instead.  He also neglected to mention that his administration had spent the last several months trying to avoid the outcome he proudly proclaimed.  This morning, the New York Times makes clear that neither side wanted a full withdrawal from Iraq, and that the collapse in negotiations came as a result of bungling by the White House:

President Obama’s announcement on Friday that all American troops would leave Iraq by the end of the year was an occasion for celebration for many, but some top American military officials were dismayed by the announcement, seeing it as the president’s putting the best face on a breakdown in tortured negotiations with the Iraqis.

And for the negotiators who labored all year to avoid that outcome, it represented the triumph of politics over the reality of Iraq’s fragile security’s requiring some troops to stay, a fact everyone had assumed would prevail.  …

This month, American officials pressed the Iraqi leadership to meet again at President Talabani’s compound to discuss the issue. This time the Americans asked them to take a stand on the question of immunity for troops, hoping to remove what had always been the most difficult hurdle. But they misread Iraqi politics and the Iraqi public. Still burdened by the traumas of this and previous wars, and having watched the revolutions sweeping their region, the Iraqis were unwilling to accept anything that infringed on their sovereignty.

Acutely aware of that sentiment, the Iraqi leadership quickly said publicly that they would not support legal protections for any American troops. Some American officials have privately said that pushing for that meeting — in essence forcing the Iraqis to take a public stand on such a controversial matter before working out the politics of presenting it to their constituents and to Parliament — was a severe tactical mistake that ended any possibility of keeping American troops here past December.

In other words, Obama wants to make a little political hay on the Left thanks to what looks like incompetence.  That may come back to bite Obama, however, as some of the same troops whose return Obama wants to hail may have to make a U-turn in the next few months:

On Friday evening, an American official in Iraq, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are confidential, said that negotiations would now center on arrangements that would begin next year, after all United States troops leave.

Possibilities being discussed are for some troops to return in 2012, an option preferred by some Iraqi politicians who want to claim credit for ending what many here still call an occupation, even though legally it ended years ago.

Really?  As part of his “mission accomplished” speech yesterday, Obama insisted that we need to focus on rebuilding our own country.  How exactly will he sell the return of thousands of American troops to Iraq?  The only people he impressed with yesterday’s announcement are the people who adamantly insist we don’t belong in Iraq at all, not that we need to check off a box and then return to build some permanent bases.

We needed to keep a presence in Iraq, not just to provide a balance on Iranian ambitions in the region but also to assist Iraq in strengthening its own internal and external security.  That’s why we needed to negotiate a continuous presence, not pull a yo-yo act that reduces our credibility and costs us time and money for no good purpose at all.  And after we pack up and leave, I find it difficult to believe that Obama will send troops back into Iraq in the middle of an election cycle.

Smart power, indeed.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Smart Power!

Vera on October 22, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Leading from behind.

Knucklehead on October 22, 2011 at 12:40 PM

When will the Iraqi’s start shipping us their oil for $50 a barrel?

Seems like they are saying FU instead of thank you for all we have done for their country.

fogw on October 22, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Uh..no, Obama didn’t ‘bungle’ anything. He got exactly what he wanted.

Those year long negotiations were done by DOD and State; Obama could care less. Sure, go ahead and negotiate all you want, but Obama was pulling the troops out anyway.

Skandia Recluse on October 22, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Just when we thought they had reached the zenith of their incompetence…..

4Freedom on October 22, 2011 at 12:41 PM

This tips our hand to our enemies. Sadly, Obama’s probably doing this for his own political purposes — he said he campaigned on bringing the troops home, and now he’s doing it. Not on the merits of the withdrawal, but to make himself look good.

Paul-Cincy on October 22, 2011 at 12:41 PM

No mistakes! A++

29Victor on October 22, 2011 at 12:45 PM

In other words, Obama wants to make a little political hay on the Left thanks to what looks like incompetence. That may come back to bite Obama, however, as some of the same troops whose return Obama wants to hail may have to make a U-turn in the next few months:

The reality is most of them will now be deployed to Afghanistan “troop rotation” after a few months of returning home. So I don’t get the big deal they are still going to be fighting in a war zone.

Dr Evil on October 22, 2011 at 12:45 PM

So, from what I understand, the Obama admin “negotiated” with Iraq in an “attempt” to convince them to let us leave some troops behind for security purposes by demanding something the admin knew would never happen (a grant of troop immunity through the Iraqi Council of Representatives), and didn’t even need to happen (they could have gotten the troops immunity by placing them on the embassy’s diplomatic rolls), and now Obama can exploit the failed “negotiations” for his own political purposes (“I kept my promise to bring the troops home”). Sound like a familiar strategy to anyone else? American Jobs Act anyone?

cschande on October 22, 2011 at 12:49 PM

This is vintage Obama. His foreign policy in Iraq has been a miserable failure on every front. He failed to secure permanent bases (which we have in every other conquered country), failed to secure an agreement on training force presence, failed to get an immunity deal (which would simply mean we would try soldiers for alleged crimes instead of handing them over to Iraqi courts), and failed to reach any long-term economic agreements. In the face of his failure, he runs out and spikes the ball and declares victory and promise kept!

stvnscott on October 22, 2011 at 12:49 PM

A complete, total, 100% failure by Obama.
A complete, total, 100% setback to keeping the momentum of democratic reforms in the area and keeping Iran in check.

This is the top highlight of foreign policy failure of Obama…so far.

(The question is, did Obama bungle it on purpose to weaken America’s influence in the area???)

albill on October 22, 2011 at 12:53 PM

[Comment removed for off-topic trolling, as well as others by this user – Ed]

Spathi on October 22, 2011 at 12:53 PM

cschande on October 22, 2011 at 12:49 PM

this.

ORconservative on October 22, 2011 at 12:53 PM

@Spathi
Wrong topic dude.

albill on October 22, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Sound like a familiar strategy to anyone else? American Jobs Act anyone?

cschande on October 22, 2011 at 12:49 PM

The triumph of appearance over reality. Or image over substance. Though in Obama’s case, there’s little if any actual relationship between the appearance and the reality, the image and the substance. Usually there’s some kind of relationship. Not for Obama.

Obama, the guy pushing jobs, is asked if the flurry of regulations since he was elected might be hurting jobs. Some say that, he says. Duh. He says he’s pushing jobs, but the reality is regulation and taxes are hurting job creation. No relationship between what he says and the truth of the matter, reality.

Paul-Cincy on October 22, 2011 at 12:54 PM

But but Herman Cain has no foreign policy experience. So don’t vote for him.

What does victory in Iraq look like, This is what victory in Iraq looks like.

tjexcite on October 22, 2011 at 12:56 PM

(The question is, did Obama bungle it on purpose to weaken America’s influence in the area???)

albill on October 22, 2011 at 12:53 PM

When, in the back of your mind, America is not an exceptional country, so neither is its use of power in the world exceptional, then, sure, the diminishment of American power around the globe isn’t a red flag to you. It might not be a goal, but it’s not important to you either. If it happens, it happens. We screwed up negotiations. Ah, well. At least I can claim all of our troops are coming home. No harm, no foul.

Paul-Cincy on October 22, 2011 at 12:59 PM

“Iran won”:

“Iran Won.” That is how LTC (ret) Ralph Peters led off his segment on the Fox Morning Show today. He said this in response to the lead-off question of what went wrong in Iraq that led to the U.S. being unable to have a contingent of troops remain behind after our major withdrawal.

Good job, champ.

petefrt on October 22, 2011 at 1:11 PM

Solid B+

Scotsman on October 22, 2011 at 1:11 PM

wow, the nyt bashing dear leader?

who’da thunk it

cmsinaz on October 22, 2011 at 1:12 PM

ended up sticking with the timeline set by George Bush instead.

miss me yet?

cmsinaz on October 22, 2011 at 1:13 PM

In Iran they will probably make the day that Obama announced that ALL (and I mean all) American troops are out of Iraq a national holiday…Maybe call it the “Those Americans Are Stupider Than We Thought” Holiday.

Where is Congress on all this?
Why does Obama get the final negotiation and decision on this???

albill on October 22, 2011 at 1:13 PM

What a complete fool.

Barry obviously doesn’t have a clue about the logistics of deploying. Leave and then possibly come back? That is pure insanity.

I can’t even laugh about him taking credit for following Bush’s timeline and ignoring his own promise.

reaganaut on October 22, 2011 at 1:15 PM

but, but, but
he got osama and aliki (sp) and ghaddafi
-msdnc

ALL HAIL DEAR LEADER

cmsinaz on October 22, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Why does Obama get the final negotiation and decision on this???

albill on October 22, 2011 at 1:13 PM

because when we have to send more troops back there, its ALL HIS FAULT

cmsinaz on October 22, 2011 at 1:16 PM

There still will be a couple hundred troops at the embassy and there will be around 5000 civilians there to protect American diplomats. Even his claimed withdrawal is barely that.

CW on October 22, 2011 at 1:17 PM

Mr Malaki, here is the invoice for our work here in your country for $700 Billion. We accept cash or oil in repayment. Thank you. The tankers will be docking in the red sea for a couple of years, fill em up please.

maineconservative on October 22, 2011 at 1:17 PM

I am sooooooooo tired of Obama.

capejasmine on October 22, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Incompetent. Marxist. Spendthrift. Illegal. Lazy.

BetseyRoss on October 22, 2011 at 1:29 PM

Obama and the left are allergic to an american presence, they really believe we bring evil and anger, whereas the reality is one where the very behavior of us troops can uplift whole societies.

rob verdi on October 22, 2011 at 1:31 PM

you can put lipstick on a pig, but its still a pig….
/great orator once said that.

ted c on October 22, 2011 at 1:36 PM

Leading from behind.

Knucklehead on October 22, 2011 at 12:40 PM

I think you mean Leading from his behind.

Ann on October 22, 2011 at 1:37 PM

And after we pack up and leave, I find it difficult to believe that Obama will send troops back into Iraq in the middle of an election cycle.

If he does, he’ll sell it as another ‘economic stimulus package.’ I’m sure that’ll go over well/

ted c on October 22, 2011 at 1:41 PM

I can’t wait for the Republican nominee to rake Obama over the coals over this. I don’t much like the candidates but I think Newt Gingrich would probably do the best job and basically annihilate Obama in any debate.

thinkagain on October 22, 2011 at 1:46 PM

This tips our hand to our enemies. Sadly, Obama’s probably doing this for his own political purposes — he said he campaigned on bringing the troops home, and now he’s doing it. Not on the merits of the withdrawal, but to make himself look good.

Paul-Cincy on October 22, 2011 at 12:41 PM

..Al Queda marking their calendars. This will oprobably blow up in Obama’s face; I’m thinking a pig’s breakfast in Iraq by mid-Summer and the bitter stink of recriminations wafting its way to our shores by September/October 2012.

And they call Romney a limp-dick sock puppet. This man is an incompetent and unserious child. I hope he rots in hell.

(..figuratively, of course.)

The War Planner on October 22, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Incompetent. Marxist. Spendthrift. Illegal. Lazy.

BetseyRoss on October 22, 2011 at 1:29 PM

You must be a dem because you think so much more highly of him than I. /

Laura in Maryland on October 22, 2011 at 1:52 PM

[Comment removed for off-topic trolling, as well as others by this user - Ed]

Spathi on October 22, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Thank You!

Del Dolemonte on October 22, 2011 at 1:54 PM

[Comment removed for off-topic trolling, as well as others by this user - Ed]

Spathi on October 22, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Hahaha. Nice.

Wear that shame with pride spathi.

ted c on October 22, 2011 at 1:57 PM

because when we have to send more troops back there, its ALL HIS FAULT

Who is worried? After Nov. 2012 it won’t be Obie’s problem. He can either blame the Republicans for undoing what he did in removing troops or he can just laugh it off since he won’t be running for a 3rd term.

katablog.com on October 22, 2011 at 2:00 PM

OT: Libya, costly victory
a good article about dear leader and his mistake of not going to congress for approval…

cmsinaz on October 22, 2011 at 2:02 PM

I don’t think we belong in Iraq at all yet I still know Obama is trying to make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear. We running away due to a complete failure at diplomacy, not because it’s the right thing to do.

Heckuva job Barry.

MarkT on October 22, 2011 at 2:02 PM

I spent six years in Iraq and now…

EPIC FAIL by the current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania!

Currently in AFG and the same script will happen here unless we elect a new POTUS…

GO ROMNEY! He has been the only candidate to consistently for years to talk about beefing up Defense, the one thing demanded by our Constitution, and neglected by this Admin.

g2825m on October 22, 2011 at 2:14 PM

[Comment removed for off-topic trolling, as well as others by this user - Ed]

Spathi on October 22, 2011 at 12:53 PM

God bless you, Ed!!!

stefanite on October 22, 2011 at 2:20 PM

His speech yesterday was embarrassing, and CNN has been embarrassing themselves by covering it as if Obama was truly doing this to fulfill his campaign promise.

MayBee on October 22, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Just put the troops in Okinawa! Problem solved!

- some dead jackass Dem congressscum

hamnj7 on October 22, 2011 at 2:31 PM

the collapse in negotiations came as a result of bungling by the White House:

Again.

GarandFan on October 22, 2011 at 2:39 PM

“Reagan Saw This Coming”:
Pamela Geller…

http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/10/reagan_saw_this_coming.html

tencole on October 22, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Voting present on the World Stage since 2009.

skanter on October 22, 2011 at 2:45 PM

I read this simewhere, I’ll see if I can find it. Back in 2010 Obama had redefined combat troops to non-combat and then eventually planned to change that to trainers. Now combat troops are given blanket immunity but the Iraqis claimed that trainers didn’t receive that same immunity. And since the remaining troops would not have combat missions they would be trainers. The Iraqis pretty much made fools of the admin.

Deanna on October 22, 2011 at 2:45 PM

And when the US leaves those lovely, empty bases behind there will also be a sucking sound in the local economies that grew up to support those bases. That is what got Germany stuck on the wanting part of US bases: their people didn’t want them until it was pointed out what would happen to local businesses and employment.

Gotta love that.

Now with Turkey feeling its oats and seeing the long-term demographics change, it will have a chance to get a free hand to start reversing that change by force against the Kurds.

Iran will be pressuring Iraq and, also, doing some work against the Kurds who support their cousins across the border.

Meantime Syria is going into chaos which might give the local Kurds a chance to break free from the country.

Wouldn’t a Greater Kurdistan be a fun thing to get out of all the bungling? The Kurds are a relatively martial people being related to the Afghans, and they feel a bit slighted by the Big Powers denying them a place of their own after WWI (grudges die hard there) and they feel they are owed such a place. They made their peace within Iraq for quite some time… now without US restraint and seeing pressures from north and east, while a power vacuum forming in the west, just what will the Kurds do?

Fun times ahead for all!

Any guesses on the body count in the Middle East over the next decade? I’m betting that it makes the paltry amounts we’ve seen in the last decade seem like a walk in the park.

ajacksonian on October 22, 2011 at 2:46 PM

This complete, total, 100% failure of Obama is really a complete, total, 100% success to Obama.

esnap on October 22, 2011 at 2:54 PM

CW on October 22, 2011 at 1:17 PM

But will they be able to protect or will they have to pull a “Carter” when Sadir’s troops storm the embassy?

chemman on October 22, 2011 at 3:08 PM

We elected Potsie Weber to be POTUS?

What were we thinking?

percysunshine on October 22, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Back when The One was still just starting his reign as Doofus-in-Chief, I predicted (on another blog) that what he and his cronies dreamed of was a Vietnam-style “last helicopter out” scenario for the U.S. military in both Iraq and AFPAK. Mainly due to their Beatles-and-the-Maharishi/ Sir Richard Francis Burton-level case of over-romanticising all things “Eastern”.

This looks like the beginning of the “endgame” for that. Expect attempts by the MSM to paint Iran (once more), and/or Turkey (now that it’s going full-tilt Islamist- RIP Mustafa Kemal), as the “real reformers” and “stabilizing influences” in the region, probably coupled with tales of corruption and confusion in any government foolish enough to not side with them or some other radical Islamist state.

If The One wins re-election, I see a high probability of full-scale regional war. Because the Islamist states will believe they can attack not only Israel, but any state not “on their side” with impunity. Counting on The One to stand on the sidelines and tell everyone “it’s not all that bad, really”.

It was said that Carter’s attitude toward NATO and other Western countries re the Communist world was rather like the old Russian boyar gag of carrying peasants on the sleigh in the winter-so they could be thrown off the back to divert the wolfpacks.

The One seems to be following the same policy regarding the Islamic states he is utterly incapable of admitting are determined to destroy the non-Islamic world. Probably because he, and his minions, dream of a world run on Eastern mysticism, where “feelings” trump everything, rather than “cold, unfeeling” Western logic, and think that such a sea change will give it to them.

They probably wish the Persians had defeated and enslaved the Greeks in the 4th Century B.C., too. Now there was a seriously “mystical” culture for you. And it even came from what’s now called “Iran”.

clear ether

eon

eon on October 22, 2011 at 4:57 PM

percysunshine on October 22, 2011 at 4:11 PM

lol
:)

cmsinaz on October 22, 2011 at 5:01 PM

Wondering what Europe would have looked like if the Americans (British and French) had totally withdrawn their military bases from Germany, Italy, etc, etc, etc about 2 years after WWII was over in 1945?

Think the Soviet Union would have been happy with with just the eastern slice of Germany after WWII? With not Americans there to stop them the Soviet Union would have rolled over all of Europe.

Think that there would not be have been a resurgence of Nazism in Germany?
Think that Germany would have built a democratic style parliamentary style government?

Obama’s bumbling of Iraq (or was it intentional?) could go down in history as the turning point to a dark era of fundamentalist Islam sweeping the Middle East.

albill on October 22, 2011 at 5:15 PM

@Spathi
Wrong topic dude.

albill on October 22, 2011 at 12:54 PM

For Spathi, there is only one topic.

stvnscott on October 22, 2011 at 5:59 PM

American troops tried in Islamic/Shariah courts? The HELL with that! How could any real American even discuss that?

InkyBinkyBarleyBoo on October 22, 2011 at 6:04 PM

ISLAMABAD — Afghanistan would support Pakistan in case of military conflict between Pakistan and the United States, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in an interview to a private Pakistani TV channel broadcast on Saturday.

And where would Maliki stand in a war between America and Iran? With Iran, of course.

Why do some people want Uncle Sam to keep wearing a “Kick Me” sign?

InkyBinkyBarleyBoo on October 22, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Islam is as Islam does.

profitsbeard on October 22, 2011 at 7:31 PM

This complete, total, 100% failure of Obama is really a complete, total, 100% success to Obama.

esnap on October 22, 2011 at 2:54 PM

And to the Obamamedia. And, when the media is done spinning this, to a majority of the American people, too.

Rational Thought on October 22, 2011 at 7:40 PM

We needed to keep a presence in Iraq, not just to provide a balance on Iranian ambitions in the region but also to assist Iraq in strengthening its own internal and external security

Ed, I think you are brilliant, but respectfully disagree. I know you love and respect our troops. But conditions in Iraq have took a downhill slide since I was there at the start of OIF and I am privy to first hand accounts of what is really going on there now, specifically the Rules Of Engagement. That alone paints a target on every single man and woman who wears our uniform in that country.

Iraq has had 8 years to get their act togather, if it hasn’t happened by now, I doubt it ever will.

If Iran needs to be dealt with, let’s deal with them with our servicemembers on the offensive. Not sitting in a base, that will employ many muslims who have daily access to our troops, who can be set up as easy targets.

And after we pack up and leave, I find it difficult to believe that Obama will send troops back into Iraq in the middle of an election cycle.

Nor should he or any President that follows. We have fought two wars in this country in 20 years. If the population and government of Iraq cannot keep secure the freedom we gave them with the lives our servicemembers, they don’t deserve it.

Hog Wild on October 23, 2011 at 12:27 AM

I’ll say it again:

Arab Spring: Persian Summer, Ayatollah Autumn.

Good job, Jugears.

GD flop-eared failure.

hillbillyjim on October 23, 2011 at 3:05 AM

Obama’s decision to announce this withdrawal before Qaddafi’s body had even hit room temperature indicates that he say this as a ‘twofer’ victory and vindication of his campaign promises to his lefty base. Unfortunately, even the NYT notes that the withdrawal without strings attached (military bases, economic payback, etc.) is no victory whatsoever. Obama tried to hide by tieing it to Qaddafi’s demise, but it’s not working. He’ll find out that in November 2012, his strong stance in foreign policy was totally thin air; and he’ll be tied with the ‘Who lost Iraq?’ tag, too boot.

Bob in VA on October 23, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Just put the troops in Okinawa! Problem solved!

- some dead jackass Dem congressscum

hamnj7 on October 22, 2011 at 2:31 PM

But not Guam! That island is ready to tip over at any moment.
Additional troops would seal its fate, for sure.

Solaratov on October 23, 2011 at 1:16 PM

International diplomacy is a State Department function. Thus the principal responsibility for failure lies with Hillary Clinton, who is not even mentioned. A failed policy is a Presidential failure; a failed agreement is a State failure, and that would be Hillary.

This is just another in a long line of her failures as SoS that are being misrepresented by the MSM. The media is struggling mightly to keep her image pristine in order to preserve her future political options and ambitions.

OzzieMan on October 24, 2011 at 9:27 AM