Obama team refused to meet with Iraqi tribal leaders seeking help against ISIS, until George Bush started making phone calls
A huge caveat before I get started here: This is based on reporting by Politico, the worst web site in the world and the work of complete hacks who can’t tell truth from lies and honestly don’t even care. Politico is the finger up America’s nose, the soiled underwear in America’s laundry, the plumber’s buttcrack popping out from under America’s leaking pipes. They are a horrible organization and they do horrible work.
That said, I’m running with this for two reasons: 1. Reporter Mark Perry actually named his source, and it’s hard for even the worst media cesspool to make crap up when it names the source; and 2. It’s extraordinary in what it reveals about the emptiness of the Obama Administration’s pronounced commitment to defeat ISIS, as well as the character of the man whose presidency we didn’t really appreciate while it was going on.
The long and short of it is that Iraqi tribal leaders from the Anbar Province, which is under a serious threat from ISIS, sent a delegation to Washington seeking an audience with Obama Administration officials in the hope that they might persuade them to supply some firepower to use in the fight. The usual Obama line is that they have to get the weapons from the Iraqi government, but that’s a dodge because they know full well the Iraqi government is corrupt and beholden to Iran. If the folks from Anbar are going to have any hope of defending themselves, they’re going to have to get the weapons directly.
But the Obama Administration stonewalled them. No one was willing to grant them an audience. Finally, tribal leader Abu Risha received a call at his hotel in Washington D.C. from someone who was willing to help. And that someone was George W. Bush:
It’s startling enough for a Sunni tribal leader to get a call from a former U.S. president—and even more so from Bush, who has been especially reluctant to interfere in world affairs since leaving office. But Iraq, after all, was Bush’s baby. He knew about the tribesmen’s difficulties as Islamic State fighters continued to make inroads against the Iraqi military, and he had been alerted to the delegation’s visit in Washington by his contacts in the U.S. policymaking community.
Abu Risha, the president of the powerful Anbar Awakening Council, said Bush listened carefully as the sheik explained in a 20-minute conversation that the Anbar tribesmen were unlikely to get any weapons from the Iraqi government, which, as Abu Risha claimed, is notoriously corrupt, beholden to Tehran and more interested in arming Shia militias than Sunni tribesmen. Bush urged Abu Risha to extend his stay and meet with retired Gen. David Petraeus, as well as with Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham. According to Abu Risha, Bush pledged that he would “do everything I can” to help him get a hearing in Washington.
Now I know you all hate McCain and Graham. Put that aside. Because of their status in the Senate, these are the guys who have the influence to open some doors. Bush and McCain hardly have a positive history of their own, but Bush didn’t worry about that. He just focused on who could get things done.
So Bush, McCain, Graham and Petraeus went to work, and before long White House doors started opening up. That alone represented some very heavy lifting. Unfortunately, Bush is out of office (and I can’t even begin to describe how unfortunate that is), and the others can’t force the White House to supply the weapons. They could only pressure certain people in certain positions to open their doors and listen.
What the Iraqis experienced once they finally got their meetings was kind of like the experience the rest of us have living under the Obama Administration. You listen to a lot of smooth-sounding bullshit and it amounts to nothing:
“There were a lot of smiles, a lot of nodding heads, but that was it,” one of the delegation’s members told me. “It’s clear the administration has made up its mind. Abadi’s their man, and that’s that.” Another delegation member agreed, but was even more outspoken. “We appreciate the meetings we had, they were fine,” he said, “but it’s obvious that U.S. officials were going through the motions. I wouldn’t call it the ‘cold shoulder,’ but it certainly was a cool one.”
No one was going through the motions more than Vice President Joe Biden, according to several of the Anbar delegates. Biden surprised the delegation on the afternoon of January 22 by dropping in on their White House meeting with Phil Gordon, the administration’s coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region. The voluble Biden was at his best, smiling broadly and accompanying his handshake with his patented shoulder grip. Biden reassured the delegation that Abadi’s government was working hard to restructure Iraq’s military, and he urged them to cooperate with him. “The Vice President encouraged the delegates to continue to work constructively with Prime Minister Abadi and the Iraqi government . . .” a “read out” from the Vice President’s office concluded.
On the record, Anbar’s delegates said they were pleased by Biden’s visit. (“We’re honored that vice president took the time to see us,” Abu Risha told me.) But off the record they were bitterly disappointed. “We’re interested in fighting ISIL [Islamic State] and the administration is interested in restructuring the Iraqi government,” a delegation member said. “In the meantime, ISIL is killing our people.” (The vice president’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the meeting.)
Bitch all you want about the things Bush failed to accomplish as president. The guy always had the courage to give his best and try to make the right things happen, and even in a post-presidency that has seen him very reluctant to get involved in the political scene, he still feels a commitment to the people of Iraq and he’s willing to lay it on the line to try to help.
Let’s never forget this either: Bush’s surge in 2007 – over the objections of the entire political class and the media – won the Iraq War. By 2009, the country was peaceful and the government was stable. In 2011, Barack Obama refused to negotiate a status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government because it was more important to him to keep his campaign promise to get out of Iraq. That is what set the stage for ISIS to overrun so much of the country and create the problem we face today.
The popular media narrative is that Iraq was George W. Bush’s disaster. No. Bush won Iraq. Obama lost it. And Obama is continuing to lose it, willingly, to this very day by refusing to help the people whose lives are in danger because of his negligence.
Mister, we could use a man like George W. Bush again. Oh and Dick Cheney too.
Kudos to Bush for making those calls and for not ignoring them like O did. The cold shoulder is exactly the reaction I would have expected from him. I’m not sure if O’s in over his head, or doesn’t understand the situation, or doesn’t care, or perhaps Valerie wasn’t available to advise him on what to do. Maybe all of the above.
The bottom line is that for all the talk of how Bush lied and mismanaged things in Iraq initially, he and those Iraqi leaders learned from their mistakes and were able to stabilize Iraq. That stability came about on Bush’s watch, but O with his know it all attitude didn’t learn a thing from those mistakes. He couldn’t – he’s on the wrong side.