How much importance did candidate Obama place on obtaining a status of forces agreement? After his election, the "Office of the President-Elect" website said: "Obama and Biden believe it is vital that a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) be reached so our troops have the legal protections and immunities they need. Any SOFA should be subject to Congressional review to ensure it has bipartisan support here at home." In the weeks following Obama's election, the Iraqis passed, and Bush signed, a SOFA agreement that would have American troops out of Iraq by December 2011.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed the Iraqis for refusing to negotiate a new, acceptable status of forces agreement that would have allowed U.S. forces to stay in Iraq past 2011. Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, however, says the Obama administration wanted to walk away from Iraq -- but didn't want it to look obvious. So they blamed it on supposedly "failed" SOFA negotiations.
Remember, Obama saw no national security interest in Iraq, even though Saddam Hussein was presumed to have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction; was shooting at the British and American plane patrolling the southern and northern "no-fly" zones; was sending $25,000 to homicide bomber families in Israel; was stealing from the oil-for-food program; had used chemical weapons on his own neighbors and his own people; and had attempted to assassinate President George H.W. Bush. Still, Obama saw no national security interest in Iraq. Why would he now?
Obama now says he is "looking at all the options ... I don't rule out anything" -- short of combat. If, short of combat, we could have achieved our objectives in Iraq, we would not have sent in combat troops in the first place.
The Obama administration was caught flat-footed at the brutality and lethality of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a group of Islamic Sunni "extremists" said to be well-trained, well-equipped, well-financed and even more brutal than al-Qaida. And now the administration is thinking of working with Iran to help the mostly Shiite Iraqi government survive? This is, of course, the same Iran that helped kill and maim Americans soldiers with roadside bombs in Iraq? This is, of course, the same Iran that our intelligence community says is marching toward building a nuclear weapon?
Critics assailed Obama's recent West Point speech, pre-billed as a legacy-defining foreign policy doctrine. Some call the speech unclear, lacking in focus or conviction. But, no, there is, in fact, an Obama doctrine. It can be explained this way: "The 'war on terror' is over because I said so -- now go tell the enemy."