President Obama’s announcement Friday that U.S. troops in Iraq will draw down to zero by the end of the year was met with swift criticism from GOP presidential candidates, who criticized the president’s decision as political and premature.
GOP presidential front-runner and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney questioned whether Obama’s decision was “the result of naked political calculation or sheer ineptitude.”
“The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government,” Romney said in a news release. “The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq.”
“President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women,” Romney continued.
Texas governor Rick Perry also questioned the motives of the president’s decision.
“I’m deeply concerned that President Obama is putting political expediency ahead of sound military and security judgment by announcing an end to troop level negotiations and a withdrawal from Iraq by year’s end,” Perry said in a statement. “The President was slow to engage the Iraqis and there’s little evidence today’s decision is based on advice from military commanders.”
Minnosata Congresswoman and GOP candidate Michele Bachmann struck a similar tone, calling the announcement “a political decision and not a military one.”
“It represents the complete failure of President Obama to secure an agreement with Iraq for our troops to remain there to preserve the peace and demonstrates how far our foreign policy leadership has fallen,” Bachmann said in a news release. “In every case where the United States has liberated a people from dictatorial rule, we have kept troops in that country to ensure a peaceful transition and to protect fragile growing democracies.”
The only GOP candidate so far to praise the president’s decision is former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. “Troops out of Iraq by the holidays — Good news, but LONG overdue,” Johnson said in a tweet.
The deadline for complete troop withdrawal by end of 2011 was set during former President George W. Bush’s term in office. The agreement was signed by Iraq and the U.S. during the Bush administration and called for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops by Dec. 31, 2011. However, the document also left the door open for further negotiations that could postpone the deadline.