When former President George W. Bush makes a rare visit to Washington today, he won’t criticize President Obama for the bloodletting Obama unleashed with his withdrawal from Iraq. After leaving office, Bush promised Obama his silence. He is a man of his word.
But if Bush did speak out, here is what he ought to say:
I told you so.
In the summer of 2007, Bush warned of the dire consequence of pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq against the advice of our commanders on the ground. All of Washington was telling Bush that the surge he had launched would fail and that the time had come to withdraw from Iraq and accept defeat.
At a White House news conference on July 12, 2007, Bush declared: “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-Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would 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.”
He had no idea at the time how prophetic his words would be.
In 2010, Obama did precisely what Bush warned against and withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq — overruling his commander on the ground, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, who had recommended that Obama keep 24,000 troops. And since then, everything that Bush warned would happen has come to pass.
Bush warned that withdrawing against the advice of our military commanders would result in “mass killings on a horrific scale.” Check. We’re now seeing mass killings on a horrific scale — summary executions, women and children buried alive, people being crucified, the attempted genocide of the Yazidis and two American journalists beheaded.
Bush warned that withdrawal would “allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan.” Check. The Islamic State now controls a safe haven the size of Belgium.
Bush warned withdrawing too soon would “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.” Check. The Islamic State is far more dangerous now, the United States is back carrying out airstrikes in Iraq and Obama will address the nation on Wednesday to lay out a new military strategy to defeat the Islamic State.
That’s not all. In a July 14, 2007, radio address, Bush also warned that U.S. withdrawal would allow “terrorists to . . . gain control of vast oil resources they could use to fund new attacks on America.” Check. The Islamic State now controls vast oil resources, which are bringing the group an estimated $3 million a day — helping it to become the wealthiest terror network in the world.
In a Sept. 13, 2007, Oval Office address, Bush warned that “Iran would benefit from the chaos” after U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Check. Just last week, the United States provided air cover for Iranian-back Shiite militias as they took back the town of Amerli — which means we are now serving as the de-facto air force for the same Iranian-backed militias who were responsible for many of the U.S. casualties in Iraq.
Can you say victory?
In an April 24, 2007, news conference Bush warned that U.S. withdrawal “could unleash chaos in Iraq that could spread across the entire region.” Check. After the United States withdrew from Iraq, the Islamic State moved into Syria, killing thousands and using that country as a staging area to recruit jihadists and plan its re-invasion of Iraq.
In other words, since Obama withdrew U.S. troops all of these warnings have come true. In Iraq, we are seeing what happens when the United States cuts and runs and allows evil to run rampant. The results were entirely predictable.
Indeed, they were predicted — by George W. Bush.