Fox News’s serial fabricator, Bill O’Reilly, came up with another whopper on March 17, saying that the Iraq War was won until President Obama “mucked it up.”
O’Reilly plays a clip of the president’s interview with Vice News, in which he says:
ISIL is a direct outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq, that grew out of our invasion. Which is an example of unintended consequences, which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.
O’Reilly breaks down what he considers to be the “facts” about Iraq, and gets things almost completely wrong.
O’Reilly “fact” #1:
When it [the Iraq troop surge] ended, Iraq was a fairly stable situation.
But [General Raymond] Odierno — for whom I served as chief political adviser — understood that the surge had not eliminated the root causes of conflict in Iraq.
If you have not eliminated the causes of violence, you have not created a “stable situation.” You have created a temporary cease fire.
O’Reilly “fact” #2:
President Obama went against nearly every General and national security official, and withdrew all our combat troops from Iraq.
It has become an item of faith on the right that President Obama should have left troops in Iraq longer. But his hands were tied by the Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA) negotiated by the Bush administration. Again, from Foreign Affairs:
Iraqi officials bargained tenaciously during the SOFA negotiations and extracted significant concessions from the United States. They insisted on and won greater control over the actions of U.S. forces and secured a promise of their departure from population centers by the end of June 2009 and their total withdrawal by the end of 2011.
O’Reilly calls the troop withdrawal, “perhaps the biggest error he [President Obama] has made.” But, as Emma Sky observes, the U.N. Security Council resolution that authorized American troops in Iraq expired in December 2008. That was why the Bush administration negotiated the SOFA. To have remained there in violation of the SOFA would have made the U.S. appear to be conquerors, not liberators. Talk about your terrorist recruiting posters!
O’Reilly “fact” #3:
Analyzing this [the violence created by ISIS] the president comes to the conclusion that it was president Bush’s fault.
O’Reilly continues that thought by saying that President Obama apparently believes that terrorism “flourishes to this day” because of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
In 2005, a Council On Foreign Relations report said that there were terrorist groups that were allowed to operate inside Iraq prior to the war, but those were largely groups that could attack Saddam Hussein’s enemies in the region, like Iran.
According to CNN, the Pentagon concluded in 2008 that there was no relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. So, it was exactly the removal of Saddam Hussein that has allowed terrorism to flourish in the region.
O’Reilly concludes his nonsense by saying, “If 10,000 U.S. forces had remained in Iraq, ISIS could not have gained a foothold there, and Iran would not be running the show.”
Once again, the SOFA that was negotiated by the Bush administration, and which the Iraqis had no interest in changing, did not permit that number of American troops to remain in Iraq.
And Iran? They are helping in the fight against ISIS. Given that O’Reilly, like most conservatives, despises Iran, you might think that he would see Iranian troops getting killed, as opposed to American troops, as a good thing. But no, he wouldn’t want to say something like that, when he could use the topic as another way to bash President Obama.
Here’s the video of O’Reilly’s comments, via Media Matters:
Image via screenshot from Media Matters