Last week a group of jihadis so violent that they were expelled from al-Qaida swarmed from Syria into Iraq, captured Mosul (remember the U.S. sacrifices made in that city?) and Tikrit and marched on Baghdad. When President Obama finally addressed the matter on Friday, he might have communicated America’s disengagement more effectively had he given his news conference poolside, with a cocktail in his hand. To the Iraqis watching, the presence of Marine One sitting directly behind the President, waiting to be boarded, communicated the message well enough.
Dexter Filkins, who spent years covering Iraq for The New York Times, wrote last week that in securing Iraq, “(b)y 2011, by any reasonable measure, the Americans had made a lot of headway but were not finished with the job. For many months, the Obama and Maliki governments talked about keeping a residual force of American troops in Iraq,... The negotiations between Obama and Maliki fell apart, in no small measure because of a lack of engagement by the White House.”
We saw that same lack of engagement on Friday. With Iraq, his goal was not to end the war or protect the people, but to end U.S. involvement so he could use the money for his personal priorities.
It was a stunning abdication of American leadership, and its awful, bloody consequences play out as Obama basks in the California sun.