Obama spurns Iraqi prime minister’s congratulatory phone call on re-election

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama on Tuesday spurned a congratulatory phone call from Iraq’s elected prime minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, and instead asked Vice President Joe Biden to take the call.

Obama’s refusal to talk with Iraq’s elected leader highlighted his efforts to distance himself from former President George W. Bush’s Iraq campaign.

During that campaign, which was authorized by the U.S. Congress, U.S. and coalition troops deposed a fascist dictator in 2003, smashed an al-Qaida counter-offensive, fended off Sunni and Iranian death squads, helped build a new army and established an elected government in an Arab country with a population of roughly 30 million.

Almost 4,500 U.S. soldiers were killed in the campaign, which deeply damaged the Arab public’s support for al-Qaida after its successful Sept. 11 jihad strike in New York.

“Future historians will regard Obama’s precipitous abandonment of Iraq — after we really did achieve victory — as one of the most foolish, shameful and strategically inept actions taken by an American president,” former Army officer Ralph Peters told The Daily Caller.

“After a decade of bloody sacrifice, Obama essentially turned Iraq over to Iran” by failing in 2011 to leave even a small contingent of U.S. forces in the country, he said.

“Vice President Biden today spoke by phone with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki,” a White House statement said Nov. 13.

“Maliki congratulated the Vice President and President Obama on their re-election … [and] agreed that the coming years presented an opportunity for both nations to enhance our strategic partnership across a range of issues of mutual concern and pledged to continue the close consultations conducted in recent months by a series of senior U.S. visitors to Baghdad,” said the formal White House statement.

Maliki heads Iraq’s Shia-led government, which straddles vast oil reserves, bitter conflicts among the country’s three large Kurdish, Sunni and Shia factions, traditional patterns of bribery and corruption, continued pressure from Iran and the much-weakened alliance of al-Qaida and Sunni tribal gunmen.

In contrast to the back-door reception given to Maliki, Obama welcomed congratulatory phone calls from the elected Islamist, semi-theocratic leaders of Egypt and Turkey, and from the autocrats in charge of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, all of whom opposed the U.S. campaign to remove Iraq’s dictator.

“This morning the President was able to return some of these messages personally, by phone,” said a Nov. 8 statement from the White House. “In each call, he thanked his counterpart for their friendship and partnership thus far and expressed his desire to continue close cooperation moving ahead.”

Obama also allocated time to chat with several European allies, as well the leaders of Russia, Jordan, Spain, Australia, Colombia, and Italy.

Since Obama’s inauguration and the 2011 departure of U.S. forces from Iraq, next-door Iran has consolidated its political influence in Iraq by funding friendly political movements and murder squads.

Iran has also used its influence to move troops and supplies through Iraq into Syria, where the Iran-backed government is using substantial firepower to suppress a widespread revolt in Syria’s cities and countryside.

The revolt is becoming increasingly bitter as Arab jihadis migrate to fight the Syrian government. The increased ferocity of Syria’s civil war, which includes small-scale massacres, may further escalate into a jihadi war against the country’s population of Christians, which amounts to roughly 850,000 people.

Obama’s refusal to support Iraq’s elected government has been matched by his failure to support a wave of Iranian street protests during 2009. Those Iranian protests were prompted, in part, by the emergence of Iraq’s democracy, but were crushed by the Iranian government security forces amid silence from Obama.

Since then, Iran’s theocratic government has pushed ahead with the development of nuclear weapons, and has launched a series of terror plots and strikes against its overseas enemies. Those plots included a foiled plan to blow up a restaurant in Washington D.C.

“This president never took an interest in history or foreign policy; now his incompetent foreign policy is making ugly history,” Peters said.

“The abandonment of Iraq was meant to chastise the Bush administration; instead, it punished our country, our troops, and our allies.” (RELATED: Obama warm to scientists, cold to soldiers)

Obama’s effort to distance himself from the Iraq campaign was also echoed by his campaign-trail support for veterans, not soldiers.

“It’s time to use the savings from ending the war in Iraq, from transitioning out of Afghanistan, to pay down our debt, rebuild America. … If you fought for this country, you shouldn’t have to fight for a job when you come home,” he declared Oct. 5 during a speech in Columbus, Ohio.

“That’s my commitment.  That’s what’s at stake in this election,” he added.

He repeated the same themes in his 2011 Veterans Day speech, in which he allocated fewer than 100 words to describe some of the soldiers’ accomplishments. “You toppled a dictator and battled an insurgency in Iraq.  You pushed back the Taliban and decimated al-Qaida in Afghanistan. You delivered justice to Osama bin Laden,” he said.

But he allocated more than 1,000 words to describe the various aid and welfare programs that his government offers to veterans.

“If you find yourself struggling with the wounds of war –- such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries -– we’ll be there as well, with the care and treatment you need,” he declared, continuing his practice of portraying soldiers as victims to be supported by progressives, not as successful soldiers and nation-builders that merit respect from progressive activists.

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Neil Munro