The Corner

Bush Ended the War in Iraq; What Obama Ended Was Our Influence There

By the time I got to Iraq in July 2007, the surge operations had utterly defeated the insurgency in Anbar province, Baghdad and most of the surrounding environs, and most of the Shiite heartland; and the Kurdish areas remained at peace. Basra remained restive (the central government of Iraq would take care of that the following year), but the only major pockets of resistance were in Diyala province and in the far north around Mosul. In most of Iraq, American casualties had dropped to levels commensurate with peacetime activities and attacks on coalition forces had virtually vanished.  

In the course of 2008, these gains were consolidated with elections that returned strong victories for pro-American, anti-Iranian, and anti–al Qaeda parties in Iraq, and were further consolidated with the strategic-framework agreements negotiated by the Bush administration. 

It was President Bush who ended the war in Iraq — by winning it. For Obama to claim that he ended the war in Iraq by bringing the troops home is as ridiculous as if he claimed credit for ending World War II by bringing troops home from Germany and Japan.

All Obama ended in Iraq was our position of strategic influence there, a priceless position gained after a horrifying sacrifice. Just imagine what the fate of Germany and Japan (and of democracy) might have been if we had abandoned those countries’ nascent democratic institutions at the start of the Cold War? We learned in the years after World War I that democracies are most vulnerable to subversion and demagoguery when they are youngest. It was the long-term presence of U.S. troops that allowed stable institutions of democratic politics and flourishing commerce to sink deep roots in Japan, South Korea, Germany, and elsewhere on the periphery of the free world. A long-term presence in Iraq would have allowed us to do much the same, standing as bulwark against Iranian influence and guiding Iraq to a role of democratic leadership in a part of the world that desperately needs modern democracy to succeed.

Instead Obama utterly neglected Iraq, and made no effort to maintain the strategic position that the Bush administration bequeathed to him. As elsewhere in the Middle East, the Obama administration has merely presided over the erosion of American influence, leaving us far less able to safeguard our most vital interests, or ensure the future peace and prosperity of the Middle East. 

And that’s a “responsible end” to the war in Iraq? Please.  

Mario Loyola — Contributing editor Mario Loyola is senior fellow and Director of the Center for Competitive Federalism at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. He began his career in corporate ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Origins of Progressive Agony

What has transformed the Democratic party into an anguished progressive movement that incorporates the tactics of the street, embraces maenadism, reverts to Sixties carnival barking, and is radicalized by a new young socialist movement? Even party chairman Tom Perez concedes that there are “no moderate ... Read More

How Will the Senate Races Break?

How will the Senate races break? We have less public polling to go on than in recent years, so answering that question is harder than ever. But the news is more optimistic for Republicans than it was a month ago.   Waves and Breakers Four years ago, I projected in mid September that if “historical ... Read More
PC Culture

Warren Is a Fraud

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has been telling a story for years. It’s a deeply romantic story about her parents and their young love, fraught with the familial bigotry of an earlier time. Here’s how she told it this week in a video she released in preparation for her 2020 run: My daddy always said he ... Read More

Two Minnesota Republican Candidates Assaulted

Two Republican candidates for state office in Minnesota have been physically assaulted in recent days, leading prominent Republican lawmakers to caution their Democratic colleagues against employing inflammatory rhetoric. Republican state representative Sarah Anderson was punched in the arm last week after ... Read More
Law & the Courts

A Christian Man Receives Justice

A good man’s legal ordeal is at an end. Yesterday, my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom announced that former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran had reached a $1.2 million settlement, ending a case he brought after the city fired him for writing -- and distributing to a select few ... Read More