An Op-Ed piece in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times by John P. Hannah, who served as Vice President Dick Cheney’s national security advisor from 2005-2009, got my attention and my dander up.
On the eve of U.S. troops leaving Iraqi cities in accordance with a formal U.S.-Iraq agreement, Hannah seems to lament–almost as much as his ex-boss does–the implementation of the very agreement, and timeline, on U.S. troop withdrawals negotiated and agreed upon by President Bush and, I assume, by Cheney, too.
Hannah attempts to discredit President Obama’s grasp of U.S. objectives and policies, and his prestige abroad, with statements such as:
Although President Obama has largely endorsed the Bush timeline for reducing the U.S. military presence in Iraq, far less clear is the extent to which he has also adopted his predecessor’s appreciation for the importance of achieving America’s strategic goals there.
Obama risks fueling the reverse dynamic. Iraqis listen to his speeches and hear that withdrawal, not victory, is his highest priority.
Glossing over the many, colossal Bush-Cheney misrepresentations and mistakes leading up to and during the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Hannah claims, “Under Obama, Bush’s commitment to winning in Iraq has all but vanished.”
Hannah recites a litany of would haves and could haves and alleged “accomplishments” by the Bush-Cheney team, including:
Bush also understood that fulfilling our commitment to help Iraq establish a stable democracy could dramatically advance long-term U.S. interests.
The Arab Middle East…would get a powerful example of a successful, modernizing democracy.
The United States would secure a strategic foothold in one of the Muslim world’s historic centers of political, religious and cultural power.
A democratizing Iraq — aligned with the U.S. and endowed with vast oil reserves, water resources and a large, industrious population — could transform their region for the better, bolstering the forces of progressive reform at the expense of Sunni and Shiite extremists.
But Hannah’s most grievous distortions come when he claims that “Iranian influence operations had escalated significantly since the Obama administration entered office, manifested most obviously in a surge of high-level Iranian visitors to Iraq.”
Wow, a “surge of high-level Iranian visitors to Iraq.”
Perhaps, Hannah has forgotten the three “highest-level” visits made by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and members of his government to Iran during the Bush-Cheney administration, or when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made history in March 2008 by becoming the first Iranian president ever to visit Iraq—still during the Bush-Cheney administration.
As to those “Iranian influence operations” escalating, how soon we forget.
How soon we forget that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi’ite, and his Shi’ite dominated government have been working very hard to cultivate and strengthen Iraqi-Iranian political, economic and cultural relations years before the Obama administration was even a glimmer in the Bush-Cheney eyes.
Such Iraq-Iran rapprochement even included al-Maliki allaying Iranian fears over the planned U.S.-Iraq security agreement and assuring Iran that Iraq’s intended to develop its relations with Iran and other regional countries based on cooperation and mutual respect.
It thus appears that Hannah, just like his ex-boss, is intent on rewriting history and on legacy salvaging by maligning the intentions and the performance of the Obama administration when it comes to Iraq.
The apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the political tree.