The GOP presidential candidates came out swinging at President Obama after he announced last week that he would follow through with President Bush’s 2008 agreement to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of this year. Further validating the point that the Republican party is completely lost on foreign policy issues, their attacks haven’t really made much sense. Rick Santorum said Obama lost the Iraq war and Michele Bachmann charged that Obama is a failure because the Iraqis don’t respect him.
Newt Gingrich took the charade a bit further this weekend. On Friday, Gingrich told a reporter in Florida that Obama’s decision was the right one:
“This is not about Obama,” he continued. “This is about the general effort that far transcends Iraq. That we have to really reassess our strategies in the region and what we think we’re accomplished. The president is right. You can’t just leave 3,000 or 5,000 troops there. They would simply become targets. If you’re not going to occupy the country, you have to withdraw.”Yet two days later, in a speech at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition’s presidential candidate forum, Gingrich suggested that Obama is ushering defeat by withdrawing:
GINGRICH: The president has announced what will be seen by historians as a decisive defeat for the U.S. in Iraq. … After eight years, thousands of lives, hundreds of billions of dollars, we will leave in defeat. Don’t kid yourself, it is defeat. Iran is stronger.
In 2006, Gingrich decided that it was an “enormous mistake” to occupy Iraq after taking Baghdad in 2003, despite the fact that up until that point, he’d been a vocal supporter of the war. And now, Gingrich is again trying to have it both ways, staking out the popular position in saying that Obama was “right” to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq, but then pandering to the right-wing base, suggesting that his decision means defeat.