National Security Desk / September 28, 2016

Obfuscating on Iraq

Clinton’s Iraq record is of far greater significance than Trump’s musings.

Monday night’s debate saw Donald Trump face several accusations from debate moderator Lester Holt that were wanting in factualness or, with regard to one question, flat out false. One particularly striking instance was a question posed to Trump regarding his statements on the Iraq war. Throughout his campaign Trump has credited himself as one of the few to have opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, while evidence indicates that at the time Trump’s position could be better described as somewhat non-committal in his views rather than strongly opposed. That said, what was most striking is that Holt never asked Hillary Clinton about her record regarding the Iraq war.

Remember, it was then-Senator Hillary Clinton voted to grant George W. Bush the power to go to war against Iraq in the first place. She even routinely made the case against Saddam Hussein. In other words, she was in support of going to war, and used her power as a member of Congress to achieve this end. By 2004’s presidential election, it become politically advantageous to oppose the war, and she followed her fellow Democrats in doing so. Here is a woman who was a senator with a record on the decision to go into Iraq that should have been questioned for her flip-flopping views. Of the two candidates standing on the stage, the one to whom Holt should have addressed the question was Clinton, not Trump.

On a related note, Hillary Clinton’s attempt to blame Bush for the 2011 deadline on the troop withdrawal from Iraq was a classic case of passing the buck. The application of the troop withdrawal timeline was in the hands of Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Recall that Bush repeatedly refused to set a fixed timeline for troop removal from Iraq, owing to the fact that the enemy presence was still potent and the new Iraqi government was still struggling to establish itself. Hillary’s “blame Bush” excuse was quite simply a politically calculated attempt to avoid taking responsibility for the decision she and Obama made to abandon Iraq, which led to instability in the region and the eventual rise of the Islamic State. Now, ironically, there’s no status of forces agreement and 5,000 American boots back on the ground. Holt was derelict in his journalistic duty by letting this pass. But he did exactly what was expected of Clinton’s Leftmedia super PAC.

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