Today President Obama announced that all U.S. troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year, a policy that is in line with the agreement that President Bush signed with the Iraqis in 2008 and, keeping his campaign promise to end the war. While some Republicans are rushing to credit Bush, GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, however, sees it differently. Romney released a campaign statement today attacking Obama for leaving Iraq and blaming him for, essentially, not being able to change the Iraqis’ minds on keeping American troops in their country past 2011:
“President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women. The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq.”
While it’s unclear what Romney means by failing “to secure an orderly transition in Iraq” (this process has been underway for years now), by asking to know what “our military commanders in Iraq” recommended, Romney doesn’t seem to understand that it was ultimately up to the Iraqis to decide whether U.S. troops stayed in Iraq past the 2011 deadline, not the U.S. military.
The Obama administration reportedly planned to keep upwards of 5,000 U.S. troops or “trainers” in Iraq past 2011 but the Iraqis refused to grant American soldiers immunity from Iraqi law.
Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) took a similar tone in a statement, saying he’s “deeply concerned” about the decision, and not offering any consideration to the Iraqis views. “The President was slow to engage the Iraqis and there’s little evidence today’s decision is based on advice from military commanders,” Perry said.