Thursday, July 28, 2011

Neocons' Iraq Criticism Rings Hollow

While Washington gets ready to default, another deadline looms on the horizon: December 31, 2011, when all American forces are due to be out of Iraq. The dysfunction of Iraqi politics has made it impossible for Baghdad to do what most people think is the rational thing—to request that some American forces remain to assist the Iraqi government in strengthening both its internal and external security capabilities. The Obama administration has signaled repeatedly that it is willing to do so, but that has not stopped neoconservative critics and former Bush administration officials from blaming Obama for Iraq’s failure to get its act together. The irony, of course, is that the democracy they were so proud to give Iraq (at such great cost to both Americans and Iraqis) is the reason that their preferred policy of continued American military presence in the country is not working out.

The neocon criticism of the Obama administration for not doing enough to bring the Iraqis to their senses is shot through with internal contradictions. Frederick and Kimberly Kagan wrote in the Weekly Standard in April that “[t]he ball is not in Maliki’s court. It is in Obama’s court,” contending that a lack of serious American commitment to Iraq was forcing Maliki into Iran’s arms. They called on the president to “stand by Iraq’s leaders as long as those leaders stand by the democratic processes now tenuously in place.”

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