We’ve known for awhile that the Iraq war was based on a series of massive lies. The 9-11 Commission Report showed that, along with various declassified documents and other investigations and reports. The CIA, however, has now declassified most of the primary report that Bush & Co. used to justify invading Iraq, and it further destroys their talking points, and some conservative talking points now. If we invaded Iraq based on lies, then the truth is, we should have stayed out. How is ISIS Obama’s fault?
Well, the simple answer to that, which we’ll no doubt keep hearing, is that he should have cleaned up Bush & Co.’s mess properly by keeping our troops there until the region was “stable.” However, we also have this issue: If we hadn’t invaded Iraq to begin with, what would be happening there now?
According to Vice, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that Bush & Co. kept citing as their justification for invading Iraq, and that the CIA “released” before but redacted nearly everything in it, shows conclusively that our intelligence on weapons of mass destruction was not especially trustworthy. The same is true of Iraq’s connection to Al Qaeda.
As Vice reports, as the NIE went up the chain of command, its shaky conclusions were increasingly treated as concrete. In other words, it sounds like the higher it went, the more officials read or listened only to the parts they wanted. In fact, former CIA analyst Paul Pillar said that very few officials and members of Congress actually read the report itself. Most of them just read the five-page summary.
Pillar also said the NIE didn’t influence Bush & Co.’s decision to invade Iraq. They’d already made that decision.
Even so, the NIE itself was deeply flawed. It was thrown together too quickly. Despite the flaws, as Vice puts it, “[T]he magnitude of the questionable evidence had the effect of making the NIE more convincing and ominous. The basic case that Saddam had WMDs seemed more plausible to analysts than the alternative case that he had destroyed them.”
In other words, not only did we not take the time to do our homework properly, but we also put forth a massively flawed report that admitted its conclusions were questionable as concrete fact. Now, the vacuum left when we pulled out of Iraq gave rise to a group that, according to USA Today, is too extreme for even al Qaeda.
Kirsten Powers pointed out a pertinent fact in USA Today, which is that if we needed to keep troops there for more than a decade to maintain stability, then Iraq was anything but stable. All the cries of upsetting Iraq’s newfound stability are ridiculous in the face of that.
General Michael Hayden spoke to Newsmax, and said the vacuum was Obama’s fault as well. Obama, he says, didn’t continue to mentor the new Iraqi Prime Minister the way Bush did. The implication is that the mentoring would have helped to continue stabilizing Iraq, and may have caused Nouri al-Maliki to sign a new Status of Forces Agreement in 2011. The fact that we pulled out then was because al-Maliki refused to sign a new agreement, so we had no choice but to pull out.
Former Secretary of State and CIA Director Leon Panetta also criticized Obama for pulling out of Iraq too soon. CBS News reports that he “feared” the situation was still too unstable there. In fact, everyone who believes that ISIS is Obama’s fault says something about pulling out of Iraq too soon, or failing to support and supply Syrian rebels in a timely manner (as Hillary Clinton has said).
The fact remains, however, that as terrible as Sadaam Hussein was, he was pretty secular, particularly for the region. ISIS may never have gained a foothold in Iraq if we’d left bad enough alone, and concentrating on fighting against those who were actually responsible for 9-11.
Instead of working to find solutions to ISIS, the war hawks who hate having a peacenik in the White House are busy laying blame. Perhaps they should look at the full history of the situation, and make decisions accordingly, instead of playing the blame game.
Featured image by Helene C. Stikkel for the Department of Defense. Licensed under Public Domain from DoD website