President Barack Obama, on Dec. 12, 2011, called Iraq "self-reliant and democratic." He praised that country, calling it a "new Iraq that's determining its own destiny -- a country in which people from different religious sects and ethnicities can resolve their differences peacefully through the democratic process." Obama said, "I have no doubt that Iraq can succeed."
He campaigned to end the war in Iraq. He did -- at least he ended America's military involvement in the war. He pulled out all the troops, without leaving a residual force behind as we did, for example, in South Korea, where we have stationed troops for over 50 years.
Iraq fell off the front pages. By 2008, even Sen. Obama, a harsh critic of the war and of the "surge" that turned it around, said: "I think that, I did not anticipate, and I think that this is a fair characterization, the convergence of not only the surge but the Sunni awakening in which a whole host of Sunni tribal leaders decided that they had had enough with al-Qaida, in the Shia community the militias standing down to some degrees. So what you had is a combination of political factors inside of Iraq that then came right at the same time as terrific work by our troops. Had those political factors not occurred, I think that my assessment would have been correct."
The lack of media interest reflected, in part, their contempt for the war -- why we fought it, why we were there. But another factor is this: Iraq, as of 2011, was surprisingly calm -- the opposite of what the George W. Bush-hating media predicted. Even those who opposed the Iraq War were surprised at the level of relative peace and security, after a decade of expending blood and treasure. The relative calm in Iraq in 2010 and 2011 explains why Obama and Vice President Joe Biden decided to snatch some credit, with Biden calling Iraq "one of the great achievements of this administration."
Today YouTube shows videos of "infidel" Iraqis being beheaded and mowed down with automatic weapons. What went so horribly wrong?
Into 2007, then-President Bush talked about the importance of negotiating a long-term status of forces agreement that would allow U.S. troops to remain in Iraq to help with security. He warned that if the U.S. didn't stay the course in Iraq, the country could become a terror state or a recruiting ground for terrorists.