Posted at 04:23 PM ET, 10/21/2011

Mitt Romney calls Obama Iraq withdrawal decision an ‘astonishing failure’

The 2012 Republican field largely slammed President Obama’s decision, which the president announced Friday, to end the Iraq war and bring U.S. troops home by the end of 2011, suggesting that the move was a purely political one.


Mitt Romney gives a foreign policy address to cadets at the Citadel on October 7, 2011 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Richard Ellis - GETTY IMAGES)
Republicans have suddenly found themselves running against a president who has notched clear foreign policy victories over the last year, among them the May killing of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki last month. But the narrative among Republicans is of a president who’s an apologist for American foreign policy, of a commander-in-chief who is weak and ineffectual.

On Friday, shortly after Obama announced that by the end of the year, tens of thousands of U.S. troops “will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home,” leading Obama rival Mitt Romney released this statement:

“President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women,” Romney wrote. “The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq.”

It didn’t take long for the Obama campaign to slam Romney for his lack of a plan to end the Iraq war.

“Mitt Romney’s foreign policy experience is limited to his work as a finance executive shipping American jobs overseas,” LaBolt slammed.

“The President kept his pledge to the nation to end the war in Iraq in a responsible way. He has promoted our security in Afghanistan and eliminated key Al Qaeda leaders while strengthening American leadership around the world,” LaBolt said. “Mitt Romney didn’t lay out a plan to end the war in Iraq in his foreign policy agenda - he barely even mentioned Iraq - but he is apparently willing to leave American troops there without identifying a new mission.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-N.H.) also weighed in Friday, sounding a similar note. She called on Obama to “return to the negotiating table with Iraq and lead from the front and not from weakness in Iraq and in the world.”

Bachmann’s statement:

“Today’s announcement that we will remove all of our forces from Iraq is a political decision and not a military one; it represents the complete failure of President Obama to secure an agreement with Iraq for our troops to remain there to preserve the peace and demonstrates how far our foreign policy leadership has fallen,” she wrote.

“President Obama’s decision represents the end of the era of America’s influence in Iraq and the strengthening of Iran’s influence in Iraq with no plan to counter that influence. We have been ejected from a country by the people that we liberated and that the United States paid for with precious blood and treasure.”

Jon M. Huntsman’s also commented on Obama’s Friday announcement:

“On the occasion of the announcement that U.S. forces will withdraw completely from Iraq by the end of the year, we should take a moment to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform. We are forever grateful for their service to America, and are eager to welcome our troops home.

“President Obama’s decision, however, to not leave a small, focused presence in Iraq is a mistake and the product of his administration’s failures. The president’s inability to reach a security agreement leaves Iraq vulnerable to backsliding, thus putting our interests in the region at risk. An ideal arrangement would have left a small troop presence that could have assisted with the training of Iraqi security forces and vital counter-terror efforts.”

By  |  04:23 PM ET, 10/21/2011

 
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