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Obama Claims to Have Ended 'Decade of War,' But Wanted Troops to Stay in Iraq Longer

7:59 PM, Oct 22, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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In Barack Obama's latest ad, the president's campaign claims, "A decade of war that cost us dearly and now for president a clear choice. President Obama ended the Iraq war. Mitt Romney would have left 30,000 troops in Iraq and called bringing them home tragic. Obama’s brought 30,000 soldiers back from Afghanistan and has a responsible plan to end the war. Romney calls it Obama’s 'biggest mistake.' It’s time to stop fighting over there and start rebuilding here."

Official portrait of Barack Obama

But the truth is, Obama himself wanted troops to stay longer in Iraq. It was, in fact, the Iraqis who would not allow American troops to stay. 

According to Josh Rogin's reporting at the time, almost exactly a year ago, "The Obama Administration Bungled The Iraq Withdrawal Negotiations." That is why troops were not able to stay longer in Iraq

The exact issue of contention was whether American troops could stay in Iraq with immunity from Iraqi courts. "But what about the extensive negotiations the administration has been engaged in for months, regarding U.S. offers to leave thousands of uniformed soldiers in Iraq past the deadline? It has been well reported that those negotiations, led by U.S. Ambassador James Jeffrey, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and White House official Brett McGurk, had been stalled over the U.S. demand that the remaining troops receive immunity from Iraqi courts,” reported Rogin.

“For more evidence that the administration actually wanted to extend the troop presence in Iraq, despite today's words by Obama and McDonough, one only has to look at the statements of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. In July, Panetta urged Iraqi leaders to, ‘Dammit, make a decision’ about the U.S. troop extension. In August, he told reporters that, ‘My view is that they finally did say, “Yes.”’ On Oct. 17, he was still pushing for the extension and said, ‘At the present time I'm not discouraged because we're still in negotiations with the Iraqis.’” 

And the New York Times reported that the Obama administration wanted to leave as many as 10,000 troops in Iraq. “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.”

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