Barack Obama Did Not End the War in Iraq

Among the reasons to re-elect President Obama repeated by speakers at the first night of the Democratic Convention in Charlotte was that Obama “ended the war in Iraq.” Some speakers tacked “ending the war in Afghanistan” onto that as well, though that claim wasn’t made as universally.

President Obama, of course, is not ending the war in Afghanistan. One of his first decisions about Afghanistan was to authorize a troop surge. Additional U.S. troops helped secure portions of the country, but there was no parallel political process to take advantage of the troop surge and U.S. troops are scheduled to remain in Afghanistan through at least 2024.

But what about the Iraq war? Does Barack Obama deserve the credit for ending a war he opposed from the outset, when he was a state senator?

The last U.S. troops left Iraq in December 2011, while Barack Obama was president, but the “status of forces agreement” that governed the departure of U.S. troops was actually negotiated between Iraqi and U.S. officials in late 2008, under the auspices of President George W. Bush.  In fact, none other than the Huffington Post actually pointed out that as president, Obama was actually interested in keeping troops in Iraq past the agreed-upon 2011 deadline, explaining that “the president ultimately had no choice but to stick to candidate Obama's plan -- thanks, of all things, to an agreement signed by George W. Bush.” Just six months before the Bush deadline, Obama tried to foist 10,000 U.S. troops on the Iraqis past 2011.

Warmongering Republicans, of course, blast the president for ending the war in Iraq and ignore that it was a departure set in motion by the Bush Administration—during the Republican presidential primaries only Ron Paul and Gary Johnson declined to pillory the president’s announcement of a withdrawal. In that way, by divorcing the withdrawal from the Republican president who negotiated it, Republicans help Obama reinforce the myth that he actually ended the war in Iraq and get to call themselves more pro-war than the president, a win for both sides if not for the truth itself.

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  • John||

    Obama tried to foist 10,000 U.S. troops on the Iraqis past 2011.

    But Reason says we were an occupation. You mean Iraq had a sovereign government that was asked us to leave and the US complied? Well knock me over with a feather.

  • Fluffy||

    The substance of the GOP criticism of the withdrawal boils down to "Obama didn't just ignore the SOF agreement, as we would have done."

    So that means, logically, that the GOP beef is that Obama treated the legal and diplomatic smokescreen of the SOF agreement as if it was actually worthy of respect.

    When you have a puppet regime, all you have to do for it to stop being a puppet is stop treating it as one. The nominal government then becomes the actual government. You need no new legal or institutional machinery, since the distinction between a colony and a puppet is the existence of a nominal local government that's being dominated from outside.

  • John||

    The GOP is wrong in that criticism. They were not a puppet regime. They never were one. When push came to shove and we couldn't agree on a SOFA, we left. And that is as it should be. It is their country. They won't be sponsoring attacks against us or invading any other countries any time soon. It is up to them to figure out what we want to do.

    The fact that we did leave when they asked, means it was not an occupation and had not been for a long time.

  • Fluffy||

    It definitely indicates that it was no longer an occupation, but we don't have enough information about the day-to-day workings of Iraqi governance to know how long that had been the case.

    It might not be possible to put an exact date on it, frankly. Too much of the distinction lies in the actions we take or refrain from taking, and our reasons for doing so or not doing so. Honoring the SOF agreement makes for a nice Treaty of Paris moment, but it's probably not the true moment.

  • John||

    But the only reason it ever was an occupation was because the Iraqi government wasn't mature enough to function. We spent billions of dollars and countless lives in pursuit of one goal; to create an Iraqi government that could function on its own. So it is not exactly like we wanted to stay there and act in lieu of Iraq's government as colonial masters. We wanted to and spent a lot of time and effort ensuring just the opposite. And in the end we succeeded.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    There was an Iraqi govt that could function on its own in 2002.

  • Randian||

    See, Fluffy, it was never really colonialism because eventually the British left.

    Duh.

    Let me know if I can John-ify any other history or dictionary definitions for you.

  • John||

    No Randian, it was never really colonialism because Iran had a sovereign government that was recognized by the UN and the world community from June 2004 on. And when that sovereign government asked us to leave, we did.

    The occupation lasted from March of 03 until June of 2004. After that we were there by the authority of the UN and the sovereign Iraqi government. That is not colonialism. It kills Libertarians to admit that because they so desperately wanted it to be colonialism. But it wasn't. Get over it.

  • Randian||

    it was never really colonialism because Iran had a sovereign government that was recognized by the UN and the world community from June 2004 on. And when that sovereign government asked us to leave, we did.

    The Sudan was never a British colony because the British eventually agreed to leave.

    I got it.

  • John||

    Randian,

    Are you capable of reading or are you just dishonest? The Sudan never had a sovereign government while the British were there. Iraq did. That is why Iraq was not a colony.

    So for the second time, The Sudan was never a British colony because the British eventually agreed to leave. is not the argument I am making and does nothing to respond to my point.

    Now would you like to try again and say something intelligent or do you just want to make the same meaningless and stupid point because you have lost the argument and don't like it?

  • Cytotoxic||

    B-b-but occupation! Imperialism! {insert snide but historically worthless snark about the British} /randian

  • Randian||

    Look out, the alleged Objectivist warmonger has gotten into the conversation.

    Anyway, John, we're talking past each other on this. The only reason Iraq is sovereign is because we agreed it was sovereign, which doesn't sound much like true sovereignty to me.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I love being called an alleged Objectivist by someone with foreign policy views almost antithetical to Objectivism -and thinks circumcision is okay.

  • Randian||

    Quick quiz: which wars did Ayn Rand support in her life?

  • SugarFree||

    Quick quiz: which wars did Ayn Rand support in her life?

    The War On Brevity.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Quick quiz: which wars did Ayn Rand support in her life?

    The War On Brevity.

    O.K.; that shit was funny. Well done.

  • John||

    Randian,

    From day one we agreed Iraq was to have a sovereign government and the UNSC gave them recognition as soon as they had elections and there was anything resembling a government.

    We didn't grant them a sovereign government.

  • Fluffy||

    I think you can set up pretty simple tests of whether we were dealing with an occupation:

    1. If the "sovereign government" Iraq supposedly had in June of 2004 had announced immediate union with Iran, would we have acknowledged that and left, or would we have prevented it? If the latter, that's an occupation.

    2. If the "sovereign government" of Iraq had demanded Iraqi trials for US service members accused of acts of violence, would we have turned our personnel over? If not, that's an occupation.

    3. If the "free" parliamentary elections had returned an Al Qaeda majority, would we have allowed that government to take power, or would we have scrapped the results and started over? If the latter, that's an occupation.

    Putting up a handful of guys in a secure zone in Baghdad and calling them the sovereign government doesn't make it so. They have to have autonomy of action, including actions that harm the interests of the power making up the other end of the protectorate.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    What Fluffy said.

  • ||

    Come on Fluffy.

    Leaving the legitimacy of whether we should have been there in the first place OR the wisdom of our actions out of it. We did EXACTLY what we said we were going to do. We stayed until the new Iraqi government was capable of running the county on its own.

  • The Hammer||

    So many fucking typos. Between John calling Iraq Iran and Francisco calling Iraq a county, you idiots are making me look illiterate by association. Stop it.

  • ||

    Sorry.

    *r

    Now fuk offf n dye in a fyre!

  • Tulpa Doom||

    "sovereign" means something, John. You can't just declare a government to be sovereign.

    Did the Iraqi govt have a say in our military operations within their supposedly sovereign territory? If bin Laden had been discovered in a cafe in downtown Baghdad, and the Iraqi govt said, no, you're not allowed to arrest or kill him, would we have had to respect their "sovereignty" and let him be?

    If not, guess what: they're not sovereign.

  • ||

    Is Pakistan sovereign? Did we respect their sovereignty when we killed OBL? Should we have?

    War ain't pretty and doesn't fit into neat little principled packets. That's exactly why it's something to be avoided.

  • John||

    Iraq had a sovereign government.

  • Lyle||

    Colonialism implies colonization.

    Did the United States try to colonize Iraq?

  • Cytotoxic||

    Nope.

  • Loki||

    You mean you never saw all the advertisements and posters asking for groups of volunteers to go and settle the newly discovered land known as "Iraq"? /sarcasm

  • ||

    Shit's getting confusing now.

    So we BLAME Bush for the bad economy, unemployment, the housing crisis, bailouts, PATRIOT Act, and starting the war on terror, and continuing the war on terror, but we GIVE CREDIT to Obama for any positive surge in the economy, any gains in employment, a recovering housing crisis, and ending the war on terror? Oh, don't forget Obama being the one who recorded the killshot on UBL also.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    BO also shot those 4 Somali "pirates", too. Remember that.

    Barack "Killshot" Obama.

  • Gilly||

    I have a neighbor who's bumper sticker says "re-elect President Killface"

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Remember, John (Red Tony) says that if it HAPPENS on your watch you get the blame.

    See for example the continuing $1 trillion Bush deficits. They are Obama's fault for not killing off the programs that caused those deficits.

    There is actually a grain of logic to this.

  • John||

    Yes dipshit, they are Bush's deficits even though the Dems controlled both the White House and Congress in 09 and 10 and didn't even so much as pass a budget or do anything but pass continuing resolutions that increased spending.

    You really enjoy having your nose rubbed in that little pile of shit don't you? You continue to drop it and we continue to rub your nose in it.

  • sarcasmic||

    The wise person learns from the mistakes of others. The smart person learns from their own mistakes. Stupid people don't learn.

    No matter how often PB's face gets rubbed in shit, it will not learn. It's too stupid.

  • ||

    No matter how often PB's face gets rubbed in shit, it will not learn. It's too stupid.

    Well...he is a democrat.

  • tarran||

    You really enjoy having your nose rubbed in that little pile of shit don't you?

    Why is this a surprise? Look at his handle; Shrike is quite the coprophile.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    You're really too stupid to know what drove the deficit to over a Trillion?

    None of it was due to the Dem Congress of 2007-08. TARP was a Bush/Paulson plan and was off-budget anyway.

    Keep sucking Bush cock, Red Tony.

  • Romulus Augustus||

    Yep, and what was the voting breakdown by Party of those for TARP and against TARP? Bi-partisan control of the government means both parties f...up, not that one team gets to assign the blame to the other. Same with Romney tax returns - I don't think any Dems really expect to find he illegally evaded taxes, what they expect is to find he paid a low percentage relative to many middle-class people. As I remind the Obama folks here at work - then you mean he paid his 2007,08,09 10;
    taxes according to the tax laws and loopholes that the Democratic controlled congresses in those years apparently endorsed?

  • Randian||

    TARP was a Bush/Paulson plan and was off-budget anyway.

    Let's have some honesty here: which party had the most No Votes on TARP?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    That is why I call them Bushpigs. Bush had a remarkable way of scaring the shit our of Congress with non-existent threats and getting just enough of a bi-partisan coalition to pass wars, PATRIOT Act, Medicare expansions and bailouts.

    Bush was a leader for sure - just the worst ever from an LP perspective.

  • Randian||

    you call them Bushpigs because more of them voted against TARP than Democrats?

    I haz a confuse.

  • Jordan||

    Shriek's just butthurt that Reason insulted his messiah, as usual.

  • ||

    I'd just like to point out that shriek's use of "Red Tony", which is a term used by other commenters, is pretty much a screaming indicator that it's a sockpuppet. So why do you respond to it?

    Sloppy, shriek. Sloppy.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    People pick up memes from other people. Are you suggesting anyone who uses the term "penaltax" or quotes Iron Laws is an RC Dean sockpuppet?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    So, Paul Ryan DID tell the truth, that the Janestown GM plant DID close under Obama's watch.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    That troop drawdown? You didn't make that happen...

  • Randian||

    Thread winner.

  • Brett L||

    Who gives a shit. When president(s) participate in actions we're supposed to be in favor of as libertarians, isn't the right answer to pat all of them on the head and say, "there's plenty of credit to go around"?

  • ||

    Depends on their motivations for that action. If the motivation is 100% wrong, then...no.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Nope. We can't afford. Carrot and stick must be applied liberally.

  • Brett L||

    They don't have motivations other than reelection. How will you ever get to yes?

  • ||

    I guess you won't.

  • Randian||

    I desire the truth, though, and the truth is that the President wanted to continue the Iraq war and is now taking credit for ending it.

    That's just a flat lie.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Warmongering Republicans, of course, blast the president for ending the war in Iraq and ignore that it was a departure set in motion by the Bush Administration...

    They have? I don't recall reading many calls for dumping Bush's agreement.

  • Randian||

    Just about every Republican leader stumps on that very thing.

  • Drake||

    One of the sadder aspects of the 2008 campaign was Obama prancing around calling Afghanistan "the good war" and criticizing the Bush strategy in Iraq.

    You can debate the worth of either war, but 4 years ago we had a clear path towards withdrawal in Iraq. Then and now we have nothing but an open-ended mindless commitment in Afghanistan.

    In 2002, Afghanistan was the good punitive raid. It's now Obama's mess.

  • Randian||

    The President probably could have sewn this thing up if he had just declared the Afghan War a victory when OBL was killed.

    I am still absolutely mystified as to why that didn't happen.

  • Fluffy||

    Because of the sunk cost fallacy.

  • John||

    No. It is because Obama faces the same problem Bush faced. If we left tomorrow, the Taliban would take over Afghanistan, declare victory and make the place into a training ground for terrorists again.

    No US President is going to allow that to happen no matter what party.

  • Lord Humungus||

    A more sensible suggestion: we leave. If they set up training camps, etc, then we bomb them again.

    repeat as necessary.

    There is no reason (drink!) to reinforce failure.

  • John||

    You can't just bomb. You have to have people on the ground to take out the camps. And you have to have a government that doesn't want to support such things.

    I don't think we need the number of people we have there. I would leave say 10,000 in a couple of very secure bases. And then use SF and Drones and such to prop up the Afghan government. Why we are sending 1000s of troops out onto the roads of Afghanistan to be blown up in a mine war is beyond me.

  • Rich||

    Why we are sending 1000s of troops out onto the roads of Afghanistan to be blown up in a mine war is beyond me.

    Because we *can*.

    /Bill Clinton

  • T||

    I'm absolutely confident we can carpet bomb any patch of dirt on planet earth into a smoking crater with no boots on the ground. If we want to do it clean, with less collateral damage, we need some boots.

    A wing of B-52s coming out of Diego Garcia dropping full loads will move any terrorist camp ever built into the 'non-issue' column.

  • ||

    I always wonder what would have happened if, 3 days after 911, we laid a nuke on an Afghan terrorist camp in the middle of the desert?

    Could we have spared ourselves 10+ years of bullshit?

  • T||

    If we had targeted every known and suspected terrorist camp in the 'Stan with multiple daisy cutters, I think that would have sent a better message.

  • ||

    The message that we still willing to use nukes would have sent a clear message to those contemplating similar actions and to the nations that would host them.

  • ||

    God that was horrible. Take 2:

    Letting it be known that we were still willing to use nukes would have sent a clear message to those contemplating similar actions and to the nations that would host them.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Or we could just reinforce cockpit doors in passenger aircraft and not allow boxcutters to be carried on planes.

    Just as effective, costs a lot less, and if you have any sense of morality, it also doesn't require killing people and subjugating them to a puppet regime of our choosing.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Responding to John up there.

  • ||

    When it comes to airport security, the problem fixed itself less than 60 minutes after the first aircraft hit the tower.

    The passengers realized they had to protect themselves. No additional money needed be spent. The act will NEVER be repeated.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Well, there was a lot of life lost on Flight 93 where the passengers, of course, did exactly what you propose. Passenger rebellion is a good deterrent but the cockpit doors are the biggest obstacle to such an attack IMHO.

  • ||

    Ask the shoe and underwear bombers if passengers can protect themselves.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Passenger vigilance is an important part of the protection. I'm not trying to denigrate it. The biggest protection in those two cases was the incompetence of the bomber. If either one had known what he was doing he could have blown the plane to kingdom come once he realized he was discovered.

  • John||

    Yeah Tulpa because that is the only way there can ever be a terrorist attack is a repeat of 9-11. And it is totally immoral to defend ourselves and try to kill our enemies.

    Take stupid elsewhere. We are all full up here.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    It's the only attack on US soil they ever succeeded at. And they've been trying for a long, long time.

  • Loki||

    Or we could just reinforce cockpit doors in passenger aircraft and not allow boxcutters to be carried on planes.

    Perhaps, but I think it would have been useful to send a message to any other would terrorists and terrorist enablers as well. Whether done with a nuke or a bunch of daisy cutters the message, to quote Tyler Durden, would be:

    "Do not... fuck with us."

  • ||

    I would leave say 10,000 in a couple of very secure bases. And then use SF and Drones and such to prop up the Afghan government.

    I thought propping up governments was part of the reason we were attacked in the first place. Why can't we just let them be at this point? The world is an imperfect place; there will be terrorists and dictators and little we can do about either. I'd rather live in freedom until I die than chained to an endless war.

    Space X and company need to get on this interplanetary travel shit faster, because once again the only freedom seems to be on the frontier.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Antarctica is not that hard to get to and a lot more hospitable than anywhere else in the Solar System.

  • Gilly||

    And they grow weed there.

  • Loki||

    Holy shit! [packs bags, leaves for Antarctica]

  • Tulpa Doom||

    No US President is going to allow that to happen no matter what party.

    And no US president is going to end the drug war, either. That doesn't mean the drug war is a good idea.

    Every 5 years we dump blood and treasure trying to pacify AFG is more damaging to our country than 9/11 was.

  • Drake||

    Obama's highly restrictive rules of engagement have increased the rate of American dead and wounded.

  • wef||

    How many personnel are still with diplomatic immunity and under the "jurisdiction" of the US embassy? Last year one could read of 17,000 persons and many, many private contractors. Is this still true?

  • Gilly||

    This clears up a huge
    question,,, The year was 1947. Some of you will recall that on July 8, 1947, a
    little more than 64 years ago, numerous witnesses claim that an Unidentified
    Flying Object, (UFO), with five aliens aboard, crashed onto a sheep and mule
    ranch just outside Roswell, New Mexico .

    This is a well known incident that many
    say has long been covered-up by the U.S. Air Force, as well as other Federal
    Agencies and Organizations. However, What you may NOT know is that in the month
    of April, year 1948, nine months after the historic day, the following people
    were born: Barrack Obama Sr. Albert A. Gore, Jr. Hillary Rodham William J.
    Clinton John F. Kerry Howard Dean Nancy Pelosi Dianne Feinstein Charles E.
    Schumer Barbara Boxer Joe Biden.

    This is the consequence of aliens breeding with
    sheep and jack-asses.

    I truly hope this bit of information clears up a lot of
    things for you.

    It certainly did for me. And now you can stop wondering why they
    support the bill to help all Illegal Aliens.

  • Randian||

    It's been a good long time since we have had this level of crazy.

    Thanks, Gilly.

  • SugarFree||

    Still makes more sense than o3 and Tony combined.

  • John||

    Barrack Obama Sr. was born in 1934. Other than that, it makes perfect sense man.

  • obijuan||

    Yes, Obama ended the war in Iraq. Of course Bush was the one who set a timetable, but McCain certainly wasn't going to abide by that. Hats off to Obama for sticking to the timetable.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Your standard for giving "hats off" is being better than John McCain?

  • T||

    Such is the state of American politics, Tulpy. We're clutching at straws around here.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Is it me or does BO look like a total weakling in that pic?

  • Loki||

    Republicans help Obama reinforce the myth that he actually ended the war in Iraq and get to call themselves more pro-war than the president, a win for both sides if not for the truth itself.

    It's only a win for the Republicans where the pro-war portion of their base is concerned. I'm not sure I'd call it a win for the general election though. A lot of undecided "swing voters" are not pro-war, and allowing Obama to advance the myth that he ended the Iraq war is unlikely to help Romney. So I think this is a win only for Obama. Always trust the Republicans to step on their own dicks.

  • ||

    The last U.S. troops left Iraq in December 2011, while Barack Obama was president

    Bullshit. There are still armed U.S. soldiers trained for combat in Iraq -- saying they are not "combat troops" doesn't mean there are no troops in Iraq.

    If I say John's arms are legs, how many arms does John have? 4? or 2?

  • Richard Burden||

    Watch 'Unsurvivable': larouchepac.com/unsurvivable Makes the case for immediate removal of Obama from office by Constitutional means. The Obama Administration is a repudiation of the rule of law, both domestic and international. In a nuclear-armed world, that's unsurvivable!

  • Rubberstuntbaby||

    Should be "senator" not "state senator".

  • benji||

    Obama was not a U.S. Senator before the Iraq War, he was an Illinois State Senator.

  • Make money online||

    Wow! Reason you guys are really open eyed! so Obama never ended the war? and this is the very reason i vote for him again!

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