GOP Hawks Blame Fallujah’s Fall on Obama — But Oppose Inserting US Troops

The coffin of a man killed in fighing is carried for burial in the western Iraqi city of Fallujah, Iraq, on Saturday. The Obama administration says it will not insert US troops to help take back the city. (AFP/Getty Images)

The coffin of a man killed in fighting is carried for burial in the western Iraqi city of Fallujah, on Saturday. The Obama administration says it will not insert US troops to help take back the city. (AFP/Getty Images)

The White House will speed delivery of weapons to the Iraqi military after al-Qaida fighters captured Fallujah — and congressional Republicans are eager to pin the city’s fall on President Barack Obama

Senate GOP hawks John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were quick to react to reports that extremist forces had taken the strategically symbolic city. And the duo made no bones about whom should be blamed for that state of Iraq and Fallujah’s fall.

“Reports that Al-Qaeda fighters have taken over Fallujah and are gaining ground in other parts of Iraq are as tragic as they were predictable. While many Iraqis are responsible for this strategic disaster, the [Obama] administration cannot escape its share of the blame,” McCain and Graham wrote in a Saturday statement.

“When President Obama withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, over the objections of our military leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America’s enemies and would emerge as a threat to U.S. national security interests,” McCain and Graham stated.

“Let it be clear that the administration’s narrative that Iraq’s political leadership objected to U.S. forces remaining in Iraq after 2011 is patently false,” the duo stated. “The administration’s failure in Iraq has been compounded by its failed policy in Syria.”

Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend shot down notions that Washington might deploy troops to help Iraqi forces take back Fallujah. Enter another congressional GOP hawk.

“I am dismayed by Secretary Kerry’s dismissal of the threat from al-Qaeda as ‘Iraq’s battle to fight’. It took two bloody battles to liberate Fallujah,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., said Monday in a statement.

“Many U.S., British, and Iraqi forces — Sunni and Shia — lost their lives to secure that city. When our allies fight al-Qaeda for us, and the United States sits on the sidelines, not only do our allies notice, but so do our adversaries,” McKeon said. “I note that Iran has already jumped in with offers of assistance. When terrorism is allowed to flourish abroad, when the specter of insurgency haunts democratic nations, our own security suffers.”

McKeon followed his Senate cohorts’ lead in blasting the White House’s handling of Iraq, which Obama vowed to end during his 2008 campaign — a promise on which he delivered.

“Secretary Kerry and the Obama administration must recognize that in spite of their desire to wish the threat away, al-Qaeda has metastasized and remains a shared threat,” McKeon said. “I urge the administration to demonstrate a full commitment in support of an ally fighting a common enemy.”

Republicans want Obama to help kick al Qaida out of Fallujah, what essentially would be viewed as a tacit admission his decision to end the Iraq war was unwise. Got it.

But what would, in McKeon’s own words, “a full commitment look like?” His statement, notably, featured no description of just what kind of help he is calling on Obama and his administration to provide.

Here’s what a HASC aide told Defense News when posed that very question: “There is a range of options, even short of boots on the ground, that could be helpful here and certainly would have been if we’d been providing consistent support to Iraq.”

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett