Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer and the Washington Post’s Colby King got into a heated debate on PBS’s Inside Washington Friday over who’s to blame for Iraq spinning out of control now that the United States is no longer there.
Not surprisingly, King was opposed to laying any of the blame on President Obama for failing to negotiate a troop withdrawal that left some of our forces there (video follows with transcript and commentary):
COLBY KING, WASHINGTON POST: This is our Iraq. Our Iraq.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: It’s not our Iraq.
KING: It is our Iraq. We created it.
KRAUTHAMMER: Obama washed his hands of Iraq.
KING: We created it.
KRAUTHAMMER: But he washed his hands of it in 2011.
NINA TOTENBERG, NPR: Iraq is a good lesson in what we don’t want to have happen in Syria, in some ways.
GORDON PETERSON, HOST: Let me hear from Mark on this.
MARK SHIELDS, PBS: Just a fact, and that was the architect, advocate, champion of going to war in Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz, undersecretary of defense, made the case that if we went, the war would be paid for with Iraqi oil funds. News? Iraq is producing oil. The biggest consumer or Iraqi oil is China. So we went to war so that China could have oil, and anybody who talks about status of troops agreement with the Iraqi government, which is now in bed with and joined at the waist to Iran, is delusional. Delusional.
TOTENBERG: We started talking about Syria.
KRAUTHAMMER: The reason it’s now under Iranian influence is because the American presence there. For example, Iraq has no air force. We were the ones who were going to train them. We had complete control of Iraqi airspace. It is now under Iranian control, essentially. It’s because Obama washed his hands.
KING: No. He did not.
KRAUTHAMMER: No, you’re wrong about that.
KRAUTHAMMER: You can make your argument about whether we should have been there…
KING: No, no, Charles. The U.S. presence…
KRAUTHAMMER: When Obama got into office in 2009 the war was won and he walked away.
KING: He didn’t walk away.
KRAUTHAMMER: And in the vacuum Iran walked in.
KING: He wanted to stay but we needed to have a status of forces agreement to protect U.S. troops there. If he had agreed to stay there without a status of forces agreement, he would have been impeached. He would have been impeached for that.
KRAUTHAMMER: I’m not saying he should have done it without a status of forces agreement.
TOTENBERG: And the Bush administration couldn’t get one either.
KING: It’s Maliki that did not, was not able to deliver. It was the Iraqis that couldn’t deliver that agreement. We were ready to sign.
KRAUTHAMMER: Obama offered, what the generals said is we needed a presence of 20,000. Obama said three, and Maliki said, “You're not serious.”
Of course, Krauthammer was right, and what's playing out in Iraq right now is exactly what many predicted when Obama failed to negotiate an agreement with Maliki that left some American troops there.
It was expected that the resulting vacuum would lead to Iran having a tremendous impact on that nation, and that's exactly what's happening.
Fortunately for Obama he has foot soldiers like King in the media here at home to deflect any blame he should be taking for the mess over there.
Must be nice.