Iraq — The War Many Have Forgotten They Supported

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, when the United States and a coalition of allies began the Iraq invasion with a famous “shock and awe” bombing campaign. The mission was to remove Saddam Hussein’s murderous regime, and neutralize the threat of what was believed (by a strong consensus of the intelligence community, our political leaders, and even the media) to be an active WMD program.

As it turned out, the intelligence community, our leaders, and the media were wrong. And though Hussein was justifiably removed and later executed for his crimes, the years of blood (over 4,000 U.S. deaths and 30,000 wounded) and treasure spent on the long, grueling work of trying to bring peace and stability to Iraq and the region have been deemed by a strong majority of Americans (and the world) not to have been worth the effort.  In fact, many believe the Iraq War to be the most colossal foreign policy mistake in our country’s history.

The Left turned on the war not long after it had begun. While the invasion proved easier than most people expected, the occupation ended up being far more difficult. And with George W. Bush at the helm, every mistake and setback was eagerly amplified by the media. By the start of the 2004 election cycle, prominent Democratic leaders (including eventual presidential nominee, John Kerry) were already walking back their support. Many Democrats hung the political albatross of Iraq around the necks of Bush and the Republican party, while pretending (somewhat successfully) that they themselves had played no role in it.

In reality, nearly half of the Democrats in Congress had voted to authorize the war, and according to polls taken at the time, most Democratic voters were in favor of the invasion.

Amusingly, more recent polls show that less than 20% of Democrats now claim to have ever supported the war.

Of course, revisionist history isn’t all that uncommon in the wacky world of partisan politics. But as a conservative who was always upfront about his support of the war, it’s particularly disheartening to see how many people on my side of the political divide have chosen to follow the Left’s lead.

These days, it’s actually quite common to see righties, who’ve either disavowed or outright denied their past position on the war, openly mock and censure those of us who’ve remained honest about where we stood. It used to be that names like “neocon” and “war-monger” were hurled at us almost exclusively by the anti-war left. Today, it comes mostly from the right — specifically from Trump-era Republicans who’ve added the term “globalist” to the mix.

Sure, a lot of the rancor comes from online lightweights — folks (many of them hiding behind anonymity) who spend countless hours on social media and in website comment sections. But we’ve also seen it over the past few years from prominent media-conservatives like Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson. Both supported the Iraq invasion, yet neither seem to have any problem taking shots at conservative Trump skeptics for having the gall to agree with their conclusions back then.

Here’s a notable example from last year:

Of course, much of this trend stemmed from an inclination to prop up President Trump, who campaigned heavily on the notion that he had enough sense (unlike the GOP) to oppose the Iraq War from the beginning. Only, as Andrew Kaczynski discovered in 2016, that wasn’t quite true. At the time, Trump was actually voicing tepid support for the invasion.

On a side note, many of these same Trump defenders have turned remarkably soft on Russia. While still mocking Obama’s tone-deafness on Putin (including that snide “the 1980s are calling” comment directed at Mitt Romney during a 2012 election debate), they themselves downplay the significance of the Russian government’s interference in our elections, evening rationalizing it at times by drawing moral equivalence between Russia and the United States. They also tend to get very defensive of Trump’s weak (at times nonexistent) rhetoric on Russia, sometimes recycling the Left’s old “What do you want us to do, go to war?” response whenever critics suggest that the president needs to send a firmer message.

It makes you wonder where these people’s concerns about sabre-rattling were when Trump was literally threatening to nuke North Korea and few months ago.

Anyway, let’s get back to Iraq…

People can obviously change their minds about whether or not they believe it was a good decision to go to war there. Hindsight is 20/20, and if individuals decide that they were wrong to support the effort back then, there’s nothing wrong with them coming out and owning up to their mistake. But for goodness sake, spare us the holier-than-thou denunciations, and rants about “neocons” and “globalists.” It’s nothing but sanctimonious garbage.

The truth is that nearly everyone whose politics were right of center back in 2003 supported going to Iraq, including much of today’s America-first/nationalist/MAGA crowd. The war was backed by a whopping 92% of Republicans. Heck, 72% of Americans in general supported it. Today’s collective amnesia doesn’t change the fact that going to Iraq was a wildly popular decision at the time.

So let’s knock off the nonsense, consider that old proverb about glass houses and throwing stones, and perhaps work on preserving at least a tiny bit of humility when it comes to this topic. Okay?

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Bush is Supposed to Support the Guy Calling Him a War Criminal?

bushes“If Donald Trump literally spit in your wife’s face, would you still vote for him?”

It’s a question I’ve asked a lot of Trump supporters over the past several months, who are angry at (and can’t wrap their minds around) my NeverTrump stance.

Interestingly, none of these guys have ever answered it. They’ve all either ignored the question or called it absurd, stating that Trump would never do such a thing.

On that, they’re right. Trump’s a lot of things, but to my knowledge, he has never actually spat in someone’s face. But that’s not why I ask the question. I ask it because I want to know if there is absolutely anything Trump could possibly do to lose their vote.

After all, adopting the policy-positions and the incendiary rhetoric of the Left hasn’t done it. Lying each and every day on the campaign trail hasn’t done it. Neither has mocking American POWs for their capture, or throwing out racist and sexist remarks. Making fun of someone’s physical disabilities hasn’t done it. Comparing Republican primary opponents to child molesters, and linking their fathers to the JFK assassination hasn’t done it. Conning Trump University students out of their money hasn’t done it. Even multiple allegations of sexual assault have largely resulted in the turning of a blind eye.

Why have all of these things been ruled acceptable? It’s because the Right and a lot of independents have deemed Trump to be the lesser of two evils in this election. Believe me, I understand that sentiment.

Yet, when you narrow down the argument about Trump’s conduct, and put it in the most personal of terms (as I have with my question), even somewhat reluctant supporters can’t bring themselves to address it. It’s because they know that their honest answer to the question would be “no.” Anyone with any shred of dignity has a line that can’t be crossed, and a man spitting in their spouse’s face would be it.

Once a Trump supporter acknowledges the existence of this line, it becomes harder for them to deride those who say that Trump has already crossed theirs, with his real-life offenses.

Unfortunately, that level of self-examination doesn’t fly with much of this crowd. If you’re a conservative or a Republican, and you’re not supporting Trump, you’re called a RINO, a cuck, a traitor, an establishment-elite, a narcissist, and yes…even a liberal.

On the receiving end of a lot of this tribal anger, especially over the past few days, has been the Bush family. It was recently reported, based on some public speculation from George P. Bush (George W. Bush’s nephew), that the 41st and 43rd American presidents (both Republicans) will likely not be voting for this year’s GOP nominee.

Of course, we learned of the elder Bush’s preference toward Hillary Clinton a few weeks ago, when Kathleen Kennedy Townsend spilled the beans on social media.

A lot of Trump fans have been livid over this, and not just the scores of nameless, faceless individuals hiding behind anonymous social media accounts.

Radio host Laura Ingraham sarcastically tweeted that it “would be nice if the GOP had a beloved and willing former president to campaign for its nominee in the homestretch.”

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs declared that the Bushes are liberals, and always have been.

On Friday’s O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly had trouble fathoming the idea of George W. Bush not voting for Trump.

Speaking to presidential historian, Jon Meacham, O’Reilly said, “I can’t imagine, at this point in Hillary Clinton’s political evolution, Bush — the younger — pulling that lever for somebody who, as I pointed out in the Talking Points memo…abortion no matter when, for any reason…I just can’t imagine it.”

Meacham believed it was wrong to assume that Bush would vote for Clinton, just because he wasn’t voting for Trump.

O’Reilly stated that he believed it was Trump’s treatment of Jeb Bush during the primaries, that was instrumental in the Bush family’s decision. He voiced that conclusion again, in the following segment, with former Bush White House Press Secretary, Dana Perino.

Of course, anyone who has observed the Bushes over the years knows that they are incredibly gracious when it comes to how they respond to their detractors and political opponents. George W. and John McCain went through a bitter rivalry back in 2000, and came out of it as friends and mutual supporters. George H.W.’s affection for Bill Clinton, the man who unseated him after one term in the Oval Office, has been as admirable as anything I’ve seen in American politics.

But like everyone, the Bushes have a line that can’t be crossed. And as both Meacham and Perino eluded to with O’Reilly, that line wasn’t Trump’s harsh treatment of Jeb.

The real answer should be pretty obvious.

If we can all agree that spitting in someone’s face is unacceptable, and grounds for political opposition, how can the same not be true for calling someone a war criminal?

How can saying that someone “lied” to the world about WMDs in Iraq, and thus sacrificed thousands of American lives for nothing, not be proper justification for withholding support? How can saying that someone knew about the 9/11 attacks beforehand, and was complicit in the murders of thousands of innocent people, not be the ultimate spit in the face?

Back when Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and Code Pink were spewing such garbage, we on the Right understood how patently false, damaging, and utterly disgusting it was. We condemned it. We fought it tooth and nail. Yet, when Donald Trump ran on this very rhetoric in the Republican primary, a decade later, it was admissible to the point that he actually won the party’s nomination.

CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted the other day that “it’s astounding what’s been normalized this election season.”

He’s right, and I can’t think of a better example of it than the notion put forth by Trump fans, that party loyalty should compel individuals to relinquish every ounce of their dignity, and support the candidacy of a someone who’s essentially accusing them and their family of mass-murder.

It’s this kind of sadistic lunacy that drove me out of the Republican party a few months ago. You can only have your face spat in so many times, before you’ve finally had enough.




Obama Now Claims It Wasn’t His Decision to Leave Iraq

On Saturday morning, just before heading off on a two-week vacation, President Obama updated reporters on the progress of U.S. airstrikes against the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq. In response to a question about whether he regretted withdrawing our troops from the country in 2011, given how quickly ISIS subsequently took over parts of the country, the president delivered this whopper:

“What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision.

Well there you have it, folks… The man who campaigned fiercely for two years on withdrawing our U.S. forces from Iraq really had nothing to do with bringing them all home after all.

The U.S. president who delivered a speech in October of 2011, bragging about holding true to that campaign promise, and declaring an end to the Iraq War, was apparently just kidding.

“As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end — for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world,” Obama proudly said in that speech. “After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011… So today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.”

Granted, these excerpts were taken from an Internet transcript on Whitehouse.gov. Since I didn’t look up the actual video of the speech, it’s entirely possible that the president was crossing his fingers while he spoke, or perhaps there was a laugh-track playing in the background to signify that he wasn’t actually being serious about what he said.

Maybe Vice President Joe Biden was just being silly, as well, when he said in 2010 that the withdrawal of our troops in Iraq would be “one of the great achievements of this administration.” After all, how can something that wasn’t even President Obama’s decision be one of his great achievements?

Maybe whoever runs President Obama’s official Twitter account misquoted the president when they tweeted in November of 2012, just before his re-election: “I said that I’d end the war in Iraq, and I ended it.”

In Saturday’s address, the president tried to explain exactly why withdrawing troops from Iraq in 2011 wasn’t his decision: “Under the previous administration, we had turned over the country to a sovereign, democratically elected Iraqi government. In order for us to maintain troops in Iraq, we needed the invitation of the Iraqi government, and we needed assurances that our personnel would be immune from prosecution if, for example, they were protecting themselves and ended up getting in a firefight with Iraqis, that they wouldn’t be hauled before an Iraqi judicial system.”

The president is of course referring to the now infamous status of forces agreement which was indeed never signed by the Iraq government. The only problem is that President Obama, as the New York Times reported in 2012, had no real interest in establishing that agreement in the first place. There was never a serious attempt made. And President Obama confirmed this position in a 2012 debate with Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney:

Mitt Romney: “With regards to Iraq, you and I agreed, I believe, that there should be a status of forces agreement.”

President Obama: “That’s not true.”

Mitt Romney: “Oh, you didn’t want a status of forces agreement?”

President Obama: “No. What I would not have done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. That certainly would not help us in the Middle East.”

So there you go. The president stated in his own words in 2012 that he did not want a status of forces agreement, and defended his decision not to leave a residual force behind in Iraq.

Yet, less than two years later, he’s now claiming that he was merely a bystander in negotiations with the Iraq government, thus he shouldn’t be blamed for the very actions he repeatedly took credit for while campaigning for re-election in 2012.

Even for a man whose breathtaking dishonesty and impulse to blame others for his own failings have become legendary over the past 6 years, this really is off the rails. How many people have been murdered by ISIS in an Iraq that was relatively stable when President Obama inherited it, as a result of the administration deciding it was politically advantageous to abandon our hard-fought victory there?

While I’m glad the president is now taking some action in Iraq, it doesn’t even begin to excuse all of the painfully poor decision making, shameless doublespeak, and nauseating dodging of accountability surrounding his handling of that country. I wrote this in a previous column, but it’s worth repeating: What we’ve seen in Iraq, at the hands of ISIS, is perhaps the most predictable U.S. foreign policy blunder in my lifetime.

The media certainly held President Bush accountable for his failings on Iraq. To his credit, Bush owned the mess. Will the media do the same with President Obama, or instead let our president rewrite his own legacy once again?

Sadly, I’m pretty sure I already know the answer to that.




Lunacy Reigns

How is it that ISIS, numbering fewer than 10,000 Islamic cretins, can pretty much overrun Iraq and instill fear throughout the entire Middle East and here in America? And while we’re on the subject, why haven’t we signed them up to deal with Iran, Russia and North Korea?

As for Iraq, where Obama saw fit to squander American lives and treasure by simply packing up and walking away, I say the most sensible resolution to a problem involving Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, is to divide the one big cesspool into three smaller cesspools. In the past, the hang-up has been that each sect insisted on winding up in possession of the oil fields. My solution is to put their three names in a hat. The winner gets the oil, the other two get casinos.

I would also like to see America divided into two parts. Our part gets the Constitution and the rule of law; the other guys get Obama and liberalism. The difference between the two groups is obvious. Our side would have gotten the Christian woman out of a Sudanese prison cell and the Marine out of a Tijuana jail within 24 hours, or the bombs would have immediately begun falling on Khartoum and Mexico City.

Another illustrative failing of liberalism is that in the five years since Obama was elected, the thugs at the EPA have come up with 2,839 new regulations, every one of which was intended to destroy our economy and increase unemployment by placing stumbling blocks in the way of industry. Any business owner who still has his head above water these days is a magician. And any federal agency that comes up with nearly 50 regulations every month, nearly two-a-day, including weekends, is an agency that should be eliminated from the face of the earth.

Another tipoff that the feds shouldn’t be running a damn thing is that the private sector fires its executives at a rate six times that of the public sector. Seriously, does anyone really believe that civil servants are as smart, as capable or as honest, as those employed in the real world, let alone six times as smart, capable and/or honest.

In spite of constantly being shot down by the Supreme Court, the alleged constitutional scholar in the White House, Barack (“Mr. I’ve Got a Pen and a Phone”) Obama, in the words of my friend Steve Maikoski: “Continues to ignore his constitutional duties, not just to respect the limitations of presidential power, but to take care that the laws of the land are faithfully executed.”

With disgusting regularity, Obama and his bitch at the Justice Department, Eric Holder, refuse to enforce those laws, such as the Defense of Marriage Act or the ones dealing with illegal drugs and illegal aliens, which they happen to disagree with; and to arbitrarily re-write others, such as the Affordable Care Act.

My biggest concern isn’t even with Obama, but with an electorate that continues to approve of the job he’s doing by managing to ignore the havoc he’s wreaking. From my vantage point, it seems that while he keeps giving us wake-up calls, 40% of Americans keep hitting the snooze button and going back to sleep.

Obama lies about our getting to keep our doctors and our health insurance, lies about Benghazi, lies about the VA, lies about the IRS, and then lies about lying, and the response of most Democrats is to pull the blankets over their ears and….zzzzzzzz.

The truth is that it’s hard to find good news anywhere these days. For instance, when he was campaigning in 2012, Obama kept reminding us that Osama bin Laden was dead, but G.M. was alive. General Motors, which began being called Government Motors, thanks to Obama and the Democrats bailing out the members of the UAW with our tax dollars, has now had over three million cars recalled because of their lethal ignition systems. So a more appropriate mantra would be: Osama bin Laden is dead and so are at least 13 people who were foolish enough to buy GM cars.

You would think that UCLA would be sufficiently embarrassed to be known as my alma mater without going out of its way to make a public spectacle of itself. But such is not the case. The school recently hosted a workshop titled “Finals Can Wait, Masturbate,” where students were to receive training in the practice of what used to be called self-abuse. As if that’s not bad enough, what’s this younger generation coming to that they can’t do both at once?

Between having to spend more time with doctors than with friends and suffering the general aches and pains that go with aging, getting older is already bad enough. But what’s with the shrinking? When I was 60, I was 5’7. When I hit 70, I was a tad over 5’6. Now I’m 74 and I’m 5’5 ½. At the rate I’m going, by the time I hit 80, I’ll be able to play the Mayor of Munchkinland in a re-make of “The Wizard of Oz.” And when I die, they’ll probably be able to bury me in a shoebox like a pet parakeet.

Speaking of dying, a reader, who claims not to be a conspiracy theorist, is convinced that in 2016, Bill is going to mysteriously drop dead, resulting in Hillary’s receiving a huge sympathy vote.

I said it will all depend on how Bill goes. If he suffers a heart attack, she’ll no doubt get a sympathy vote. On the other hand, if she shoots him, she’ll get my vote.

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©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? Write BurtPrelutsky@aol.com.




Iraq is No Longer Bush’s Legacy; It’s Obama’s

isisVice President Joe Biden said in 2010 interview that he was “very optimistic about Iraq” and that he believed it was “gonna be one of the great achievements of this administration.” The statement ignited some controversy at the time, but not because anyone doubted the stability of Iraq. What many people took exception to was Biden attributing the long, hard-fought successes achieved in that country to the wrong administration.

After all, for as much as President Obama and his mouthpieces have often complained about the challenges they “inherited” from the Bush administration, a chaotic Iraq was not one of the them. The Surge strategy ordered by George W. Bush, led by people like General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and carried out by our brave American troops, achieved a relatively stable Iraq before President Obama ever took office.

What Obama was handed wasn’t the wildfire of insurgent violence that he and his Democratic cohorts reaped great political benefits from. What he was handed were some warm embers.

One would have thought that such conditions would have been good for Obama’s presidential legacy, despite him having little (if nothing) to do with achieving them. A stable Iraq throughout his presidency could have led to many great and promising things in that part of the Middle East, and those things would have gone down in the history books as having happened under Obama’s watch.

The president, however, wasn’t interested in leaving behind a peaceful Iraq. He wasn’t interested in Iraq at all. All he wanted to do was fulfill a campaign promise (one of the very few he’s actually held true to) by getting United States forces out of Iraq completely. He wanted to be recognized in the history books as the man who ended the Iraq War. Ending it the right way just wasn’t a consideration.

Obama ignored the warnings of his military advisers who told him that it was direly important to leave behind a residual force of American troops to demonstrate our country’s commitment to a sustained peace, and support the progress that had been made. He ignored the warnings that without a U.S. presence in Iraq serving as a check on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, dumb mistakes in domestic governance were more likely to be made. He also ignored the ample history of how lasting peace is maintained at the end of brutal conflicts.

President Obama just didn’t care. His naive, philosophic approach to foreign policy and his hard-left instincts wouldn’t allow him to view our troops as peacekeepers. He believed that America in Iraq was the problem – not part of a solution, despite how profoundly the landscape of the country had changed since he first contemplated running for office.

Obama seemed to believe that by magically waving a wand and making the United States disappear from Iraq, all would be good. And without Iraq to manage, he’d have one less distraction standing in the way of him pursuing his domestic, social-justice agenda here in our country.

Today, we turn on the news and we find the horrific images of mass murder, violence, and all of our military and diplomatic gains quickly vanishing before our eyes in Iraq. What we’re witnessing is shocking, but it’s certainly no surprise. These were the inevitable results of perhaps the most predictable U.S. foreign policy blunder in my lifetime.

While even some liberal news outlets are conceding that the ISIS’s march through Iraq wouldn’t have happened if Obama had left U.S. troops behind, there are many pundits and politicians who actually have the gall to blame George W. Bush for what is happening.

It’s nothing short of pathetic.

Presidents come into office taking on the world as they find it – not as they wish it would be. President Bush didn’t want to have to deal with a strong, extensive Al Qaeda network, led by Osama bin Laden, that was already planning the 9/11 attacks. President Obama didn’t want to deal with Iraq. They had decisions to make, and its those types of decisions that define presidents’ legacies.

The years-old question of whether or not we ever should have invaded Iraq will always be asked, of course, but with everything that’s going on in that country right now, a more pertinent question has emerged.

That question was recently asked by Iraq War veteran and amputee J.R. Salzman, who posted it on Twitter along with an old picture of himself standing next to President Obama. The picture was taken at theFrom a Dead Sleep by John A. Daly Walter Reed Medical Center.

“Remember when we met in 2007, Barack Obama?” Salzman asked. “You said you were proud of our sacrifices. So why did you throw them away?”

George W. Bush will forever be recognized as the man responsible for the Iraq War, but the fate of Iraq can no longer be part of his legacy.  It’s now Obama’s legacy, and Salzman’s question spells out exactly why.