John McCain took on Jay Carney over the President's speech tonight, and whether leaving troops in Iraq might have prevented ISIL from gaining traction.
September 10, 2014

Here we go. Just after President Obama's speech concluded, Senator and Pretend President John McCain made the rounds of all the cable networks to offer his learned opinion about what shouldda wouldda couldda happened if we had just left that small contingent of forces on the ground in Iraq.

Facts be damned. I don't know how many times we're going to have to say this, but the President rightly decided to withdraw all troops after the Maliki government would not agree to the standard and accepted Status of Forces Agreement that would have protected our troops while stationed there.

So once more, just for the record, via Media Matters:

Over the last year, in late-night meetings at the fortified compound of the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, and in videoconferences between Baghdad and Washington, American and Iraqi negotiators had struggled to reach an agreement. All the while, both Mr. Obama and the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, gave the world a wink and nod, always saying that Iraq was ready to stand on its own but never fully closing the door on the possibility of American troops' staying on.

Through the summer, American officials continued to assume that the agreement would be amended, and Mr. Obama was willing to support a continued military presence. In June, diplomats and Iraqi officials said that Mr. Obama had told Mr. Maliki that he was prepared to leave up to 10,000 soldiers to continue training and equipping the Iraqi security forces. Mr. Maliki agreed, but said he needed time to line up political allies.


This month, American officials pressed the Iraqi leadership to meet again at President Talabani's compound to discuss the issue. This time the Americans asked them to take a stand on the question of immunity for troops, hoping to remove what had always been the most difficult hurdle. But they misread Iraqi politics and the Iraqi public. Still burdened by the traumas of this and previous wars, and having watched the revolutions sweeping their region, the Iraqis were unwilling to accept anything that infringed on their sovereignty. [The New York Times, 10/21/11]

As Jay Carney said later in the segment, John McCain can keep insisting it could be done, but that doesn't make it so. The facts are that Iraq categorically rejected any US troop presence with the standard agreements. And so none were left behind.

Now will someone get that cranky old coot off the air?

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