Obama flip-flops on Iraq: Not having residual forces ‘wasn’t a decision made by me’

During a press conference on Thursday, President Obama maintained American troops will not return to combat in Iraq – even though he is sending 300 “military advisors” to the country on top of the 275 troops deployed last week to provide security at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The most noteworthy thing Obama said, however, came in response to a question posed by CNN’s Jim Acosta, who pressed the President on his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011.

ACOSTA: Just real quickly, do you wish you had left a residual force in Iraq? Any regrets about that decision in 2011?

OBAMA: Keep in mind, that wasn’t a decision made by me. That was a decision made by the Iraqi government. We offered a modest residual force to help continue to train and advise Iraqi security forces. We had a core requirement which we require in any situation where we have U.S. troops overseas, and that is that they are provided immunity, since they are being invited by the sovereign government there so that if, for example, they end up acting in self-defense, if they are attacked and find themselves in a tough situation, that they’re not somehow called before a foreign court.

That’s a core requirement that we have for U.S. troop presence anywhere. The Iraqi government and Prime Minister Maliki declined to provide us that immunity. And so I think it is important, though, to recognize that despite that decision, that we have continued to provide them with very intensive advice and support and have continued throughout this process over the last five years to not only offer them our assistance militarily, but we’ve also continued to urge the kinds of political compromises that we think are ultimately necessary in order for them to have a functioning multi-sectarian democracy inside the country.

Watch the exchange below courtesy of Real Clear Politics:

“It’s staggering the fact that he has, on every issue, never taken responsibility,” Pat said on radio this morning. “He said he has, as he pushes it off and says it is not his responsibility.”

At this point, we have come to understand President Obama has never and will never take responsibility for anything. But it is the media’s failure to point out his blatant flip-flop on this particular issue that is most frustrating.

On radio this morning, Glenn played a portion of the October 2011 speech in which the President accounted the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and an exchange from one of the 2012 presidential debates between Obama and Mitt Romney, in which the President touted his record.

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On October 21, 2011, President Obama held a press briefing to announce the end of the war in Iraq. During his speech, he reiterated his commitment to bringing all of our troops home.

OBAMA: As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end — for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world. After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011.

As Commander-in-Chief, ensuring the success of this strategy has been one of my highest national security priorities. Last year, I announced the end to our combat mission in Iraq. And to date, we’ve removed more than 100,000 troops. Iraqis have taken full responsibility for their country’s security.

A few hours ago I spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. I reaffirmed that the United States keeps its commitments. He spoke of the determination of the Iraqi people to forge their own future. We are in full agreement about how to move forward.
So today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.

About a year later, President Obama doubled down on those remarks:

ROMNEY: Number two, with regards to Iraq, you and I agreed, I believe, there should have been a status of forces agreement.

OBAMA: No. What I would not have done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down, but that certainly would not help us.

“So he calls it untrue,” Pat said. “Then he changes the subject from status of forces to ‘what I wouldn’t do is leave 10,000 troops there.’”

“It’s funny. Listening to him in his attempt to evade and be dishonest during the Romney debate, he actually makes his dishonesty worse today,” Stu concluded. “He’s sitting there trying to get out of the status of forces question to talk about number of troops, [which is] the question he’s trying to get out of currently. This is what happens with every liar. He’s put such a web of lies together, he can’t keep track of them anymore. Luckily, he has no one to call him on it.”

Front page image courtesy of the AP