Andy Card, Sununu: Blame Obama for Iraq

Monday, 16 Jun 2014 04:53 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Two of the highest-ranking advisers to Presidents George W. and George H.W. Bush say President Barack Obama's lackluster foreign policy is directly responsible for the  explosion of bloody violence in Iraq.

"President [George W.] Bush indicated that if we didn't do things right in Iraq in terms of maintaining some order, that things were going to deteriorate basically to what's happening today,'' Andrew Card, George W. Bush's deputy chief of staff, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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"It is a more dangerous Iraq, more dangerous for America today that it was when President Bush left office [and a] direct result of the policies that President Barack Obama put in place,'' he said Monday.

Both Card and John Sununu, former chief of staff for George H.W. Bush and ex-governor of New Hampshire, said one of Obama's most serious mistakes was not obtaining a Status of Forces Agreement that would have allowed the U.S. to keep an important presence in Iraq.

"The failure to really execute a Status of Forces Agreement, which meant we could not keep our 10,000 troops there . . . [is] having this whole series of consequences,'' Sununu said.

"Each little domino of consequences is moving forward, and a horrible domino is to have Iran be able to claim that they are a partner of the U.S. in the Middle East.

"I assure you that all of our friendly Arab countries that have stood with us in conflicts in the past, like Saudi Arabia, are not going to be thrilled if that kind of a situation comes to be.''

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Their comments came as the members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria continued a takeover of cities all over Iraq. On Sunday, ISIS released disturbing photos said to depict the mass executions of members of the Iraqi army.

Obama has said sending U.S. ground troops to Iraq is not an option for now.

But ABC News reported on Monday that about 100 Marines and Army troops have deployed to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Secretary of State John Kerry told Katie Couric in a Yahoo! News interview that the U.S. will give "a very thorough vetting of every option that is available" to stem the violence, including drone strikes and cooperating with Iran.

Kerry said he doesn't think ISIS will be able to take Baghdad, but "when you have people murdering, assassinating in these mass massacres, you have to stop that — from the air or otherwise."

Card said it's only going to get worse.

"It's likely to get much worse before it gets better because this cauldron is boiling over,'' he said.

"The administration has created a climate where there's no consequence for this kind of activity, and right now President Obama is kind of absent from the debate.''

He said one of the goals of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who leads the ISIS group, is to eventually attack the United States.

"[He is] a really, really, really bad guy . . . [and] he wants to create a place where he can mount attacks on our interests, including attacks on U.S. soil half a world away," Card said.

Sununu agreed, saying Bakr — "the worst of the worst'' — is "establishing a foundation'' in attempting to create a caliphate throughout the Middle East — one Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader.

"Frankly it is a product of a whole series of bad decisions over the last two or three years that has just allowed [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki to continue his terrible governance and create an opportunity for these really bad folks to come in and do what they've done in the last week,'' Sununu said.

"The fact is [Obama had] better get his senior advisers and get some good advice on how to deal with this mess he's created before it truly gets out of hand.''

Sununu is also worried that the five high-ranking Taliban militants that were swapped by the United States for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl last week could also play a dangerous role in ISIS' continuing rampage.

"The five Taliban leaders that we returned, I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing them somehow at least peripherally associated with what's going on in Iraq,'' Sununu said.

Sununu says former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attempt to divorce herself from the Iraq mess as she continues to mull a presidential run in 2016.

"It's going to be an interesting dance between now and when she might announce after the November 2014 elections, [and] sometime either in December, January, February give us her decision,'' he said.

"Between now and then, you're going to see what I call the salami theory of separation. A thin slice of difference here, and another thin slice of difference there until she can build it up.

"Look, I don't blame her for wanting to dissociate herself from Obama. That's the strongest condemnation of how bad this administration is, but . . . she was part of that and she's going to have to create a very clever narrative to separate herself. I don't think she's going to be able to do it.''

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