"Let's be clear. McCain is there legitimately getting credit for being one of the advocates for the single biggest mistake the American government has ever made in foreign policy." (Former Rep. Barney Frank)
As an al-Qaeda-linked, Sunni army under the ISIS banner sweeps across Syria into the heart of Iraq and the US considers how it might effectively intervene, Sen. John McCain, launched a broadside against the Obama administration from the Senate floor earlier yesterday. McCain demanded the immediate resignation of the entire White House national security team, advising Pres. Obama that he has been “ill served” by their advice and their decisions. McCain urged that anyone who declared the withdrawal from Iraq a good idea should be canned, which would (by inference0 include Obama himself. He suggested that Obama restore a Bush era Team to do it right.
In Greek Tragedy it is Hubris that lie at the heart of great failure and destruction. Hubris refers to extreme pride, overweening, arrogance and unwarranted self-confidence. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality. Sen McCain has long been the personification of Hubris.
October 18, 2001 McCain links anthrax threats in U.S. to Iraq. WRONG!
March 13, 2002 McCain predicts that in Post War Iraq will be grateful to the U.S. for its role as liberator. WRONG!
February 21, 2003 McCain explains how Iraq will pay for its post war recovery and development and will require no U.S. aid. The war will be brief with very limited U.S. losses and it will be conclusive. And Hannity confidently backs him up WRONG!
April 23, 2003 McCain claims that the Sunnis and the Shias have no history of conflict in Syria and will be able to get along in the post war. WRONG!
McCain in his speech on the Senate floor quotes from a New Yorker article making the point that the invasion of Iraq destabilized the country AND then he goes on to say that those who made decisions that did this should be accountable for them. Bizarrely, he is thinking of the "failure" of the White House to get an agreement that would have left significant U.S. forces in Iraq that would have U.S. Forces standing "with" Maliki's forces (who are deserting by the hundreds) today.
The Case for Blaming Bush: Open and Shut
1) The Bush administration fabricated a set of reasons and the evidence to support it to justify an invasion that destabilized the entire region.
2) The Bush administration began a war without a realistic strategic or tactical plan for the conduct of that war and it aftermath.
3) The Bush administration never understood how deep the rift was between Sunnis and Shiites, and how Christians and Kurds fit into that space between them.
4) The Bush administration did all of this to advance a geopolitical neocon agenda that in its desire to create an Islamic client state, secure oil resources and complete the so-called unfinished business of the Gulf War.
What he misses, and misses spectacularly, is that it is Bush foreign policy that created the mess and it was an Iraqi decision that left Maliki without U.S. support.
Yes, someone should be accountable. Bush, Cheney, Rusmfeld, Wolfowitz and warhawks like McCain who wanted a war in Iraq to "finish the business of the Gulf War" and to make the most of the opportunity created by a war culture in the U.S. after 9/11 should be held accountable.
What about the "failure" of the Obama administration
to get a Status of Force Agreement.
Again, we begin with Bush.
In one of his final acts in office, President Bush in December of 2008 signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Iraqi government that set the clock ticking on ending the war he’d launched in March of 2003. The SOFA provided a legal basis for the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq after the United Nations Security Council mandate for the occupation mission expired at the end of 2008. But it required that all U.S. forces be gone from Iraq by January 1, 2012, unless the Iraqi government was willing to negotiate a new agreement that would extend their mandate. It was not what the Bush administration wanted but it was all they would get. They took it and handed that mess, among many, off to the Obama administration.
Middle East historian Juan Cole has noted, “Bush had to sign what the [Iraqi] parliament gave him or face the prospect that U.S. troops would have to leave by 31 December, 2008, something that would have been interpreted as a defeat… Bush and his generals clearly expected, however, that over time Washington would be able to wriggle out of the treaty and would find a way to keep a division or so in Iraq past that deadline.”
But as it turned out that extension would only be granted by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Parliamentary coalition he headed if Iraqi authority over U.S. troops was extended beyond the norms that were common in all such agreements. The fact is that resistance in the Iraqi Parliament was so great that Maliki was unable/unwilling to challenge the leadership of opposition parties that wanted all U.S. forces gone or constrained by Iraqi legal oversight.
Ending the U.S. troop presence in Iraq was an overwhelmingly popular demand among Iraqis, and Maliki appears to have been unwilling to take the political risk of extending it as he moved to shut the Sunnis out of his government. While he was inclined to see a small number of American soldiers stay behind to continue mentoring Iraqi forces, the likes of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, on whose support Maliki’s ruling coalition depended, were having none of it.
Even the Obama Administration’s plan to keep some 3,000 trainers behind failed because the Iraqis were unwilling to grant them the legal immunity from local prosecution that is common to SOF agreements in every country where U.S. forces are based. Iraq said to the U.S.: We do not need you.
The Bush legacy continues to grow. Like a cancer.