Unchallenged on talk radio, Coffman blames Obama for ISIS; calls for “boots on the ground” against ISISThursday, February 19th, 2015
When U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, Rep. Mike Coffman called it a “great day,” but in the ensuing years, he’s complained that America shouldn’t have withdrawn all its forces from Iraq. This line of thinking reached a crescendo Saturday, when Coffman appeared on a Denver radio stationand blamed Obama for creating “the situation with ISIS in Iraq” by withdrawing American troops too early.
Coffman: The fact is, the President has created the situation with ISIS in Iraq, because what he did against recommendations of the Pentagon was he left no residual force whatsoever in Iraq in 2011 because he was so desperate for the political narrative going into the 2012 election that he’d ended the war in Iraq. And by not having any residual force, we lost that military-to-military relationship with the Iraqi security forces. And in doing so, we also lost that government-to-government relationship. And we had no influence. And as a result, the roots of representative government weren’t deep enough. And the Al-Abadi government out of Baghdad reverted to their worst sectarian tendencies, pushed the Sunnis out of the government, and essentially created the opening for ISIS, for this jihadist element to come in and fill that void. And they did.
KNUS host Jimmy Sengenberger missed a chance to make things interesting by arguing that, if anything, Bush is responsible for ISIS. But Obama? Even if you accept the premise, which I don’t, that the absence of a U.S. “residual force” in Iraq created ISIS, the fact is that Obama actually tried to negotiate an agreement allowing U.S. forces to remain. Respected New York Times reporter Michael Gordon summarized what happened:
Mr. Obama sought to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement that would have allowed United States troops to stay in Iraq after 2011. Initially, the Obama administration was prepared to keep up to 10,000 troops in Iraq. Later, the Obama administration lowered the number to about 5,000. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki indicated that he might be willing. But the Iraqis did not agree to an American demand that such an agreement be submitted to their Parliament for approval, a step the Obama administration insisted on to ensure that any American troops that stayed would be immune from prosecution under Iraqi law…. After the talks broke down, the Obama administration withdrew the remaining American troops in December 2011, the deadline set for withdrawing all American forces from Iraq under the Status of Forces Agreement.
Blame game for ISIS aside, Coffman is so mad about the situation he’s ready to put “boots on the ground” in the war against ISIS–even though about a year ago he was for U.S. advisers in Iraq but dead set against the boots idea, telling KNUS’ Dan Caplis, “I would say, in terms of regular troops on the ground, absolutely not.” Now Coffman is saying U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq are required:
Coffman: Certainly, as an Iraq war veteran, I wouldn’t want to see U.S. forces on the ground as the maneuver ground element. I want I want to see indigenous forces on the ground, but we’re going to need special operators from time to time to take out high-value targets. We are going to need to give them air logistical and advisory support, and that is going to take some elements of boots on the ground. That’s just the way it is. And he’s trying to make everything fit into a political narrative. And it’s insane…I’m going to fight him on closing Guantanamo Bay as well.
(CORRECTION: This blog post previously stated that Coffman wanted to “boots on the ground” in Iraq. Actually, he wants the boots in the war against ISIS.)