President Barack Obama now says predecessor George W. Bush and his administration were responsible for the 2011 withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, according to The Washington Times.
Despite couching the "full removal of U.S. forces from Iraq" as the White House’s having made good on a 2008 Obama promise to do just that — it was a key talking point in his campaign speeches — the president is now back-stepping, according to the Times.
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"Now, however, with the terrorist force the Islamic State running roughshod through Iraq, capturing key territory, slaughtering Christians and promising to 'raise the flag of Allah at the White House,' Mr. Obama has begun to adjust the narrative," Ben Wolfgang of the Times wrote.
On Saturday, the president presented reporters with the newest iteration of his story, the Times said, when asked if he had any second thoughts about pulling all ground troops out of Iraq.
"What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision," Obama said, according to the newspaper. "Under the previous administration, we had turned over the country to a sovereign, democratically elected Iraqi government.
"So let’s just be clear: The reason that we did not have a follow-on force in Iraq was because the Iraqis — a majority of Iraqis — did not want U.S. troops there, and politically they could not pass the kind of laws that would be required to protect our troops in Iraq. So that entire analysis is bogus and is wrong. But it gets frequently peddled around here by folks who oftentimes are trying to defend previous policies that they themselves made."
The Weekly Standard
’s John McCormack wrote that Obama made troop withdrawal a key platform issue in his 2012 re-election bid, quoting from a foreign policy debate between Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Obama "told the American people he didn’t support leaving any troops in Iraq," wrote McCormack.
"Every time you've offered an opinion, you've been wrong," Obama scolded Romney in that debate. "You said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day."
The National Journal’s Ron Fournier took to Twitter to mock Obama’s malleable position on the troop withdrawal, first posting Obama’s words in 2011, and then Saturday’s statement in which he denied responsibility for the decision.
"A promise he kept, and he’s running from it?" Fournier tweeted
, adding the hashtag #Ownit.
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