The American people have long been sick and tired of our occupation of Iraq, and on Friday President Obama called ally-ally-in-free.
You’d think there’d be little cause for dissension; as Glenn Greenwald noted, the deadline was agreed to in the Bush era.
But you know how it is with rightbloggers and Obama; anything the President does must be portrayed as nefarious. And the Iraq War — why, that had to be defended; democracy, whiskey, sexy and all that!
So they pulled their old warblogging armor back on, and tried once again to rally America to the cause of Operation Eternal Occupation.
Key Republicans, as you might expect, also denounced the decision in their traditional reflexive and incoherent way (e.g Mitt Romney, “unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice blah blah blah”). Rightbloggers, being the intellectual shock troops of the conservative movement, had to at least make up something that sounded like reasons.
For example: it became known that, before the announcement, the Obama Administration had asked the Iraqi government for U.S. troop immunity from prosecution after 2011, which was not granted. (Whether the Administration asked out of real eagerness to stay in Iraq, or to demonstrate to the world the Iraq government’s resolve to have us gone, we must leave to the reader’s judgement.)
The less nuanced among the brethren were pissed that we actually let the Iraqis decide whether we should be in Iraq. “A DEFEATED ENEMY TELLS US WHAT IT WILL AND WON’T DO!” hollered the Blogmocracy. “Way to go America!” ”
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey, carefully misreading a New York Times story, claimed neither side really wanted us to leave Iraq, but Obama’s “incompetence” made it impossible to achieve the mutually-desired status quo — sort of like when two people don’t want to run into each other at a party, so they both skip it, or something.
Morrissey also said, “I find it difficult to believe that Obama will send troops back into Iraq in the middle of an election cycle,” as if that were a bad thing.
“This is not the Obama administration’s own decision,” said Patrick Brennan at National Review. “…The U.S. had little choice but to abide by the existing Status of Forces Agreement ratified under the Bush administration and by the Iraqi government…”
Having thus explained that it wasn’t Obama doing, Brennan explained that it was nonetheless his fault: “it seems that the Obama administration’s prodigious reputation for negotiation and diplomacy has failed, again, to protect the security interests of America and her allies.” Well, maybe “explained” is the wrong word.
“I must have been absent in strategy class the day they taught that you can declare a war over unilaterally,” said Longtabsigo at Blackfive, and asked, “Will the President at least allow our returning forces the honor to walk up 5th Ave in NYC in a victory parade?”
Obviously not, because Obama hates our fighting men, just as Jerry Ford hated the victorious soldiers of the Vietnam War and refused them their parade.
And you know how much Obama hates soldiers? While he “fulfilled his campaign promise to pull U.S. forces from Iraq” in a “subdued briefing” held in the equally subdued “dark blue White House press podium,” reported the Daily Caller’s Neil Munro, “less than two hours later” Obama celebrated some pencil-necked geeks — winners of the National Medals of Science, whatever those are — in “the bright and gilded East Room of the White House.”
Dark, bright — get it? Also Obama had the nerve to be cheerful about the scientists! “The president’s tone was markedly different as he announced the troop withdrawal,” said Munro, “focusing more on regret than on victories won.”
True, Obama had said in his Iraq remarks that “The last American soldier[s] will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops.” But he was subdued! If he’d been smiling and laughing when he announced the end, you know rightbloggers would have loved him for it. Water’s edge and all that.
The schoolier rightbloggers took more and bigger words to get to the same place.
At the American Enterprise Institute, Fred Kagan went with the usual AEI laugh-lines — the move “effectively throws Iraq into the arms of Iran,” there is “an elaborate Iranian plot to conduct attacks on American soil,” “How can we claim to be taking a firm line against Iran while giving Tehran the single most important demand it has pursued for years” — in brief, without the Iraqi toehold, how will we get that war with Iran of which the AEI has been dreaming for years?
“While every American shares the conviction that we don’t want any U.S. troops stationed in a Middle East country a day longer than they need to be,” said James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation… wait for it… “it is tragic to see a premature exit of U.S. troops that might jeopardize the progress that has been made in Iraq.” We remind readers that America has been in Iraq for eight years.
“In part,” continued Phillips, “Obama and his Obama Doctrine are to blame for the Iraqi government walking away from U.S. support,” because “Iraqi leaders, sensing the Obama Administration’s eagerness to head for the exit, are reluctant to take political risks to give U.S. troops immunity from prosecution… by Iraq’s politicized police and judicial authorities.”
A reader not fully initiated into the Heritage worldview might wonder why, if we have made such great “progress” in Iraq, its officers of justice hate us so much.
Phillips also told us that the Iraqi Prime Minister “timidly” refuses to stick up for us, and indeed “many Iraqi leaders are also unwilling to raise Iran’s ire, apprehensive that they could be targeted for political retaliation or even assassination.” We seem to have made quite a hit over there. Also, we are let to know this will embolden “Iran and al-Qaeda,” etc.
“If there is one constant of American military history it is that the longer our troops stay in a country the better the prospects of a successful outcome,” said Max Boot at Commentary. “Think of Germany, Italy, Japan or South Korea.” Again, the U.S. has been in Iraq eight years. We have only cursorily reexamined our postwar histories, but can’t find anything about German intransigents launching fatal rocket attacks on American soldiers into the 1950s.
Anyway Boot found the drawdown “shameful,” and predicted that “the broad majority of Iraqis who fear Iranian influence and who want their country to become a democracy will come to rue this day, however big a victory it might appear in the short term for the cause of Iraqi nationalism.” One imagines they’re too busy figuring out how to get more than a few hours of electricity a day to think about that very much. One invasion at a time, after all.
Also, “the issue of immunity could have been finessed,” he claimed, “if administration lawyers from the Departments of State and Defense had not insisted that Iraq’s parliament would have to vote to grant our troops protections from Iraqi laws.” Imagine, trying to get the consent of the governed! Good thing they don’t try that kind of thing here.
All is not lost, though, Boot said: “Once U.S. forces pull out by December 31,” he speculated, “negotiations could and should be reopened to bring back a sizable contingent — I would argue for a bare minimum of 10,000 troops…”
Indeed, Boot thought, we could be re-greeted as liberators — “By showing our willingness to pull out our troops,” he added, “the U.S. can show the Iraqis that we are serious about respecting their sovereignty and not bent on a long-term occupation of their country.”
Perhaps contemplating the ungrateful reception Iraq III would surely get from the war-weary folks back home, Boot thought better of it: “But of course pulling out all U.S. troops and then bringing some back would be costlier than simply keeping them there.” Now it’s too late to force them to accept us. Curse you, Obama!
At the PJ Tatler, Zombie brushed off the whole thing, saying “we already won the Iraq War almost three years ago” — which was, he hastened to remind readers, “before Obama even took office.”
Three years ago? How’d Zombie figure that? Because he’d declared so himself, in November 2008 — you can look it up! At that time Zombie urged readers to “make a post on your blog announcing that the war is over, and declaring Saturday, November 22 to be Victory in Iraq Day. That’s it.”
Surely you remember? It was celebrated by “a number of bloggers!” There’s even a Wikipedia entry on it — whoops, wrong Victory in Iraq Day: that one’s for when Bush came out in a flight suit in 2003 to declare Mission Accomplished. (He saw his shadow, and we had eight more years of occupation.)
Despite Zombie’s declaration, “pundits whinge and bloviate about the end of an era and the significance of this historic moment” just because some so-called “President” declared our Iraq adventure over, huffed Zombie. But he and his buddies know better, and will continue to celebrate every November 22 with cookouts and fireworks. (Or maybe that’s for the Kennedy assassination — well, two for one, then.)
While their Iraq chatter was, as we have seen, up to their usual standards of logic, it wasn’t quite as full-throated as usual. It’s almost as if they were aware that no real people gave a shit about the subject, so they just quickly wrote their harebrained essays and called it a day. How galling it must have been for them — just eight years ago they were denouncing their fellow Americans as traitors for disagreeing with them on Iraq; now they they were watching a black Democratic President clear the troops out, yet no crowd mobbed the streets in outrage!
Or maybe they were just distracted. After all, this week they also had to cope with the death of Muammar Gaddafi — or, as National Review‘s Victor Davis Hanson preferred to call it, Gaddafi’s “horrific murder.”
Also deeply affected by this dastardly act was The Virginian: “Who is next on the hit list?” he asked. “Are those war drums beating for Iran part of the Obama re-election strategy? I would not want to be and Iranian — or Syrian — leader right now, a dead Ahmadinejad or Assad could be a great boost for Obama’s second term.” The Virginian should have a talk with Fred Kagan.
At TownHall, Bill Tatro was inspired by the event to write “Obama the Bounty Hunter,” in which he recalled “when I took my grandson to the beach one day” and helped the lad built a sandcastle. “Yes, Poppa, look what we built,” said the tyke then; “It’s beautiful, and it will last forever so people will see it every time they come to the beach.” “I didn’t have the heart to tell him or show him the next day,” mourned Tatro, “that all our efforts would be swept away by the tide. It was inevitable. So to it will be for the Middle East.” Very poetic, but where was this philosophical POV back in the days of shock and awe?
Making lemonade out of bullshit, Walter Russell Mead said the death of Gaddafi showed that “the Bush agenda in the Middle East is alive and well.” (The actual Bush agenda, as it pertained to Gaddafi, was to cut deals with him, send him senior U.S. advisers, and call and thank him, in contrast to the Obama agenda, which was to have him captured.)
“Does Qaddafi’s death make the Libyan war a success?” asked Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Surprise, he didn’t think so. “It may not even matter a lot who or what replaces Qaddafi in terms of long-term security… there is ample reason to believe we will regret our intervention in the long run.” Perhaps some enterprising liberal blogger should just declare Victory in Libya Day!
Cheer up, fellas — we hear that military contractors will be sticking around Iraq. They will be well-placed in case the economy sucks bad enough next year that the Republicans return to power, and we can again have noble, long-lasting, highly-unpopular foreign adventures, instead of all this Arab Spring nonsense. There’ll be plenty of whiskey and sexy — democracy, not so much.