GOP candidates criticize Obama Iraq decision
October 21st, 2011
03:06 PM ET
11 years ago

GOP candidates criticize Obama Iraq decision

(CNN) - Some of the Republican presidential candidates were sharply critical Friday of President Barack Obama for his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year. Read their statements below.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney:

"President Obama's astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women. The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq."

(See Obama 2012 response at the bottom of this post, following candidate statements.)

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota:

"Today's announcement that we will remove all of our forces from Iraq is a political decision and not a military one; it represents the complete failure of President Obama to secure an agreement with Iraq for our troops to remain there to preserve the peace and demonstrates how far our foreign policy leadership has fallen. In every case where the United States has liberated a people from dictatorial rule, we have kept troops in that country to ensure a peaceful transition and to protect fragile growing democracies. We will now have fewer troops in Iraq than we have in Honduras – despite a costly and protracted war."

"President Obama's decision represents the end of the era of America's influence in Iraq and the strengthening of Iran's influence in Iraq with no plan to counter that influence. We have been ejected from a country by the people that we liberated and that the United States paid for with precious blood and treasure. The administration claims that we got exactly what we needed, but today's announcement demonstrates otherwise. The United States needed a working democratic partnership in Iraq and we should have demanded that Iraq repay the full cost of liberating them given their rich oil revenues. I call on the president to return to the negotiating table with Iraq and lead from the front and not from weakness in Iraq and in the world."

Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain

"Whether or not it’s the right thing to do, I would consult with the commanders. The thing I wouldn't do that the president is doing is telling the enemy how many troops you're going to bring out and when you are going to bring them out. I don't think that's a good strategy."

Former Utah Gov. and U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman

"On the occasion of the announcement that U.S. forces will withdraw completely from Iraq by the end of the year, we should take a moment to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform. We are forever grateful for their service to America, and are eager to welcome our troops home.

"President Obama’s decision, however, to not leave a small, focused presence in Iraq is a mistake and the product of his administration’s failures. The president's inability to reach a security agreement leaves Iraq vulnerable to backsliding, thus putting our interests in the region at risk. An ideal arrangement would have left a small troop presence that could have assisted with the training of Iraqi security forces and vital counter-terror efforts."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

“I'm deeply concerned that President Obama is putting political expediency ahead of sound military and security judgment by announcing an end to troop level negotiations and a withdrawal from Iraq by year's end. The President was slow to engage the Iraqis and there's little evidence today's decision is based on advice from military commanders.

"America's commitment to the future of Iraq is important to U.S. national security interests and should not be influenced by politics. Despite the great achievements of the U.S. military and the Iraqi people, there remain real threats to our shared interests, especially from Iran.

“The United States must remain a firm and steadfast ally for Iraq, maintaining an ongoing diplomatic, economic, and military to military partnership with this emerging democratic ally in the Middle East.

“As a veteran and commander-in-chief of national guard forces, I cannot express enough appreciation for our military service members who have protected and defended American interests in Iraq. Our Iraq war veterans made enormous sacrifices to make our nation and world safer, and I know all Americans will welcome them home with great pride and appreciation.”

Obama 2012 Campaign Reaction to Romney criticism

"The President kept his pledge to the nation to end the war in Iraq in a responsible way, he has promoted our security in Afghanistan and eliminated key Al Qaeda leaders while strengthening American leadership around the world. Mitt Romney didn't lay out a plan to end the war in Iraq in his foreign policy agenda – he barely even mentioned Iraq – but he is apparently willing to leave American troops there without identifying a new mission. Mitt Romney's foreign policy experience is limited to his work as a finance executive shipping American jobs overseas."
–Press Secretary Ben LaBolt

Filed under: 2012 • Iraq • Michele Bachmann • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (140 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Interesting. So half the GOP/Teatroll army will be incorrectly screaming that Obama gets no credit "because this was all planned years ago by Bush through SOFA" and the other half will be regurgitating Mittens' nonsense about this being spurious, rash, disorganized, ill-timed and poorly planned. Gotcha. Can we have fries with that?

    Make up your hive-mind, imbeciles. The least you could do is foam at the mouth and lie and conflate and misinform in a consistent non-self-contradictory manner.

    October 21, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. mk1

    This guy is a total ignorant fool. For one thing, did he ever serve? No, I didn't think so. Second, with the Iraqi parliament refusing to grant immunity to American troops still in Iraq past December, only an idiot would leave our troops there. Iraq left us no choice. I have a son currently serving on active duty and it would be a dereliction of duty for a commander in chief to leave our troops there unprotected. What a crock Romney is.

    October 21, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  3. earl fey

    MORE REPUB. no no no no bo

    October 21, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. Tony Z

    This shows again the Romney is not ready to lead. Obama has show us that he has a strong handle on foreign policy. This is a good move and potential result is stronger relationships.

    October 21, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. wblanco85

    "Obama wore a suit today as a campaigning strategy"

    October 21, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. NVa Native

    Of course he does, the twisted tea-baggers won't crown him drama queen unless he declares everything Obama does or says is wrong and dangerous. How else will he spread the GOP fear and loathing?

    October 21, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. Lillie

    Oh Willard....pleez. This guy talks out of both sides of his mouth and now that he thinks he's the front-runner. he's going after Pres. Obama!'s decision on Iraq Good luck, Willard!

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    October 21, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. Dreamer96

    If the troops stayed they could have been arrested by the Iraqi's for any number of reason's off the bases, and not have any protection under the Iraqi, U.S. agreement...Our troops are done there, get our troops out....

    October 21, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. vet in texas

    I pity any of the fools whom have given any of these fools their hard earned dollars, I wonder how many of the usual posters on these blogs of CNN have actually donated to SarahPac, I'll bet they won't speak up

    October 21, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. Lillie

    Willard can send his sons and Michelle can send some of her fosters and biologicals to assist in the extended drawdown they'd llike to see!!!! LOL

    October 21, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Inrealityhere

    Perhaps pulling all our troops is the only way to clear the path for The Muslim Brotherhood. Hmmm... we'll see.

    October 21, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. sam

    the same folks that want to cut, cut and cut the deficit and spending are the same folks who advocate open-ended spending on foreign policy. Ignoramus!

    October 21, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "President Obama's decision represents the end of the era of America's influence in Iraq and the strengthening of Iran's influence in Iraq with no plan to counter that influence"

    How to sound like an imperialist AND an uninformed moron in two easy steps:

    1. Claim that it is essential for the USA to plant large military forces in other countries to exert some sort of god-given right to influence how a sovereign people govern themselves.

    2. Talk as though there are no deep-seeded cultural and religious differences and long-standing feuds between Sunni and Shiite, Iraqi and Iranian, etc.

    October 21, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. Andy

    Bush agreed to timeline for withdrawal from Iraq

    Iraq and U.S. agree that all U.S. forces will withdraw "no later than December 31, 2011." On November 17, 2008, US and Iraqi officials signed a Security Agreement, often referred to as a Sta...tus of Forces Agreement (SOFA), stating that "All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011." The agreement also called for all U.S. combat forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities "no later than June 30, 2009." [U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, 11/17/08]

    And with the great leadership of this President, we can now actually say “Mission Accomplished.” I’ll give Bush the credit for setting the withdrawal date and I’ll give Obama credit for executing the Bush agreement and stabilizing Iraq so our Military could come home proud (unlike the defeat in Vietnam).

    October 21, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  15. TEAliban/TEAhadists

    None of you degenerate TEApublicans have any credibilty. The President is abiding by the SOFA set by Bush and is holding true to a campaign promise. He's ending the war of deceit and revenge.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012
    E. WARREN 2012

    October 21, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  16. waikikijohn

    It's about time we get our boys home from this mess we got ourselves into. Almost 5,000 lives lost and so many young men and women injured and lives in a mess and for what. Now time to get the hell out of Afghanistan and let the drones do the work.

    October 21, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  17. TXJim

    More of the same from the predictable GOP....

    Blah Blah Blah... Obama fail... blah blah blah... I support leaving the troops there since Obama wants to pull out.. blah blah blah.. I would leave them there 'til we sucked out all the oil ... blah blah blah.. If I were president I wouldnt do what Obama does.. blah blah blah.. you lie! ... blah blah blah... tar baby ... blah blah blah..

    October 21, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  18. Clephas

    Geez... Of course he had to get our troops out of there, since the Iraqi's refused to grant them immunity to Iraqi law. It's not in any way his fault that the Iraqi government wants the right to trump up charges against American troops...

    October 21, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  19. Jake

    It was the village idiot bush who sent troops into iraq in the first place under the premise of nothing but lies. It is the usa who should pay back iraq for the thousands of murders committed by troops in this illegal action taken on by the village idiot bush. this is the republicans fault and it falls fair and square on the feet of the villige idiot bush.

    October 21, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  20. mike moore

    They're just upset because they haven't used the "war still continues" mantra yet. The vast majority of Americans are more than ready for these wars to be over!

    October 21, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  21. Ed DFWTX

    Romney and Bachmann are criticzing Obama purely for political reasons. His decision was based on Iraq's governments desire to have the US out of the country and policies puts our troops in an environment where they will no longer be protected. Romney and Bachmann seem to care more about political power reasons than those of whats best for our troops and their families. Obama is cleaning up the mess George Dubya got us into and neither candidate want to admit it.

    October 21, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    I guess the critics choose to ignore the Status Of Forces Agreement that authorized a US military presence. Without it, that would make the US military an occupying force. The Iraqi government asked the US military to leave their country, which believe it or not was the sentiment on the street immediately following the fall of Baghdad. (Why do you think that Bush had such a feeling of mission accomplished?)

    Suggsting that the US should have ignored the request of a sovereign government, who is supposedly our new ally, would have been major mistake. If Iran wishes to come invade, let them. When the Iraqis ask the US military for assistance, send them an estimate for the cost and they can hire us.

    You would think that the war-mongerers would see the value in allowing Iran to attack first, then go in after them.

    October 21, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    The Repubs are all idiots, and Obama will win. He is racking up one foreign policy victory after another, here, getting (or helping to get) the bad guys that DUHbya could not, and the economy is improving. Also, with millions baby boomers and those just a bit older than they are (like my husband) now starting to retire, that is going to start opening up millions of jobs for the unemployed and for new graduates this year and next. Removing our troops from Iraq, where we never should have gone in the first place, as Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, can only help. Go, Obama! And congrats on Gadhafi. Another tyrant bites the dust, thanks in part to your wise moves. Obviously, your critics were and are wrong.

    October 21, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  24. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    ... Correction: millions of baby boomers

    October 21, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  25. SecedingfromTexas

    Exactly. No immunity, no troops. Amen.
    Prime examples of speaking that of which they no nothing about.

    October 21, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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