U.S. President Barack Obama applauds as former president George W. Bush arrives on stage at the dedication ceremony for the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, April 25, 2013.
Jason Reed/Reuters

Put Iraq blame where it’s due

Updated
For most of the last week, as Republican presidential candidates have been asked whether they would have invaded Iraq and started a disastrous war, the GOP line has been simple: blame it on the intelligence community.
 
The Republican message, predicated on short memories, is that George W. Bush was a responsible leader, trying to do the right thing, who based life-or-death decisions on the best available information. As we discussed on Monday – and as Rachel explained in a segment I hope you saw on Monday night – this line isn’t even close to being true.
 
All of which leads us to Republican Talking Point #2: blame President Obama.
Blame President Barack Obama, not his predecessor, for the turmoil in Iraq, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told New Hampshire’s WMUR.com. […]
 
“I blame Obama for Iraq, not Bush,” Graham said as he toured New Hampshire.
Graham, an unannounced Republican presidential candidate, said the same thing on CNN this week: “At the end of the day, I blame President Obama for the mess in Iraq and Syria, not President Bush.”
 
Kristol brought his preternatural ability to always be wrong about everything to Twitter this week, arguing that when Bush/Cheney left office, Iraq was “calm.” Then that rascally Obama screwed everything up.
 
James Woolsey, the former CIA director and war proponent, told TPM this week that the only thing that could have changed his mind about the invasion – even with the benefit of hindsight – was President Obama. “ ‘I should have said in ‘03, ‘No, I don’t want us to go to war under Barack Obama,” Woolsey said.
 
David Kurtz, mocking the Republican line, paraphrased the nonsense this way: “We had a good thing going in Iraq, then boom, six years after the invasion, Obama took office and messed the whole thing up.”
 
To be sure, as truly insane as these arguments sound, it’s clearly become an arrow in the GOP’s rhetorical quiver. When Republicans aren’t blaming intelligence agencies for what transpired in 2003, they’re blaming President Obama – the one who was right about Iraq from the start – for the war they apparently find tough to defend.
 
Reality paints a very different picture. Bush/Cheney lied the nation into a disastrous war, mismanaged it in every way possible, strengthened U.S. foes, and destabilized the entire region. All of this transpired, of course, before Obama even launched his national campaign. Indeed, the catastrophe began unfolding when Obama was still a state senator.
 
The crux of the bizarre talking point is that the Democratic president withdrew U.S. forces in Iraq, consistent with the Status of Forces Agreement reached between the two countries. And which bleeding-heart pacifist thought it’d be a good idea to endorse this withdrawal plan? That would be George W. Bush, who negotiated the SOFA in 2008.
 
But there’s no reason to accept the premise – the Status of Forces Agreement was not responsible for creating a disaster in Iraq. Invading the country in the first place created a disaster in Iraq.
 
If we’re creating a list of who’s most deserving of blame, there’s simply no coherent way to make the case that President Obama belongs on the list.
 
I can’t wait to see Republican Talking Point #3.
 

Barack Obama, Bill Kristol, Foreign Policy, George W. Bush, Iraq and Lindsey Graham

Put Iraq blame where it's due

Updated