The June 12 editorial “The Iraq ‘success’ ” asserted: “In Iraq, Mr. Obama chose not to leave a residual force that might have helped keep the nation’s politics on track.” This ignores the facts.
As The Post extensively reported at the time, during lengthy negotiations on keeping U.S. forces in Iraq, the Iraqi government insisted that all remaining U.S. personnel be subject to Iraqi law. This was a demand to which the United States would not, and could not, agree, and U.S. negotiators made this point time and again to their Iraqi counterparts. Thus, no agreement.
The “choice” to have no residual U.S. force in Iraq was, in truth, a fully informed decision made by Iraq — not by the president. This choice also served as a demonstrable “lesson learned” by current Afghan decisionmakers.
David E. Graham, Charlottesville
The writer is executive director of the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School.
I can only surmise that The Post has a very different definition of “ending war responsibly” than do most Americans. Still, kudos to the editorial board for its faithful adherence to neoconservative doctrine long after it has been decisively discredited.
President Obama did not set the 2011 deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq. President George W. Bush did. Moreover, it was Baghdad’s adamant refusal to grant immunity to our forces that precluded any possibility of an extended U.S. troop presence.
The editorial board has not explained how that stance was the White House’s fault, nor how a U.S. military deployment could have prevented or rolled back the current insurgency.
Steven Alan Honley, Washington
The Post editorial faulted the Obama administration for the success of the Sunni extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria against the Iraqi government. It offered little advice on what to do other than to keep some unspecified number of U.S. troops in that country: “Mr. Obama chose not to leave a residual force that might have helped keep the nation’s politics on track.”
It is telling that the only solution offered was the presence of U.S. ground forces to shepherd Iraqi “politics,” not aiding the Iraqi central government with arms and money. Of course, the Iraqi regime is largely Shiite and aligned with Iran. One suspects The Post’s real interest is not combating terrorists but again inserting our army into Iraq to “keep the nation’s politics on track” — against Iran.
Brendan Martin, Arlington
The unfolding events in Iraq are nightmarish. What I find striking is that “U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces” had all of the tools of war, yet there was apparently little conviction to engage with the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Does President Obama’s disdain for military action mean the American people must accept the incursions of ISIS? No. If Iraq is indeed on the brink of disintegration, the voices of the American people will be heard loud and clear in the 2016 presidential election.
Mark M. Spradley, Chevy Chase