The claim that Obama could have produced a different outcome if he had wanted to is very tenuous. It’s true that the president and his senior aides have been disingenuous in claiming to be content with the situation in which they now find themselves. The White House wanted a small force to remain behind to train Iraqi soldiers, to deter terrorist attacks, and perhaps to help keep the peace along the internal border between northern Iraq and Kurdistan; many Iraqis wanted this as well. But the Obama administration was never going to permit troops to remain without an offical pledge of legal immunity from Iraqi courts, and Iraq’s leadership was unanimous in refusing to grant that right. The Iraqis wanted their sovereignty back more than they wanted that extra layer of protection. “It became increasingly clear to us that the politics were not going to allow Iraq to get to that point,” a senior White House official said to me. “They made it crystal clear that they wanted a clean break with the past; the so-called occupation was over.”…

There is something fishy about the right-wing obsession with the Iranian threat to Iraq. Today’s sabre-rattlers are, of course, the same folk who urged President George W. Bush to go to war in Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein’s Sunni regime, and to prevent Saddam from joining forces with the Sunni extremists of al Qaeda. None of the hawks warned then that toppling Saddam could embolden Iran, and yet Iran has turned out to be the greatest beneficiary of that massively botched undertaking. Now the war’s biggest boosters are blaming Obama for a problem created by Bush, and magnifying Obama’s alleged failure with whatever rhetorical tools may be available. It’s a switcheroo of breathtaking proportions.