Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey reports on a conversation between Dexter Filkins and Hugh Hewitt. (Via Maggie’s Farm)
Filkens covered Iraq, among other things, for The New York Times. Now he does the same at The New Yorker. He has been a critic of the Iraq War, but has reported honestly and objectively about the situation in that country.
Morrissey introduces him:
… in 2008, while at the NYT, he wrote extensively about the success of the surge just a few months before the presidential election. A month later, Filkins wrote again about the “literally unrecognizable” and peaceful Iraq produced by the surge. Six years later, Filkins was among the skeptics reminding people that the Iraqis’ insistence on negotiating the immunity clause for American troops was more of a welcome excuse for Obama to choose total withdrawal — and claim credit for it until this year — rather than the deal-breaker Obama now declares that it was.
The last line should not be news. Yet, the Obama administration continues to harp on the notion that the Iraqis made it impossible for us to stay, thus to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement.
Here is Filkins’ description of the results of President Obama’s withdrawal policy. He told Hewitt:
We left, the United States left in 2011. We went to zero, and we left. I mean, we packed up and left. So when you drive around Baghdad now, there is not a trace that the United States was ever there, and I mean apart from the American weapons, but in terms of like American presence and projects and guidance, gone. And I think that we spent almost a decade there. We paid with a lot of lives and a lot of blood, and building, essentially, rebuilding the Iraqi state that we destroyed. And I don’t think it was ready. I mean, it just wasn’t ready to function on its own. And it couldn’t function without us. And actually, Ambassador Crocker, who was on your show, had a really good description of it. He said you know, we build ourselves into the hard drive of the place, and so we, the United States, were the honest broker. We were the only people that could sort of bring all the Iraqi factions together, and then we left. You know, and so the thing doesn’t work without us. And you can see that in Iraq at a micro level, like when I talked to that deserter, who said as soon as the Americans left, the commanders started stealing all the money and everybody left, and everything fell apart. Or you can see it at the macro level. I mean, that’s what’s happened to the Iraqi state.