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Clinton Fends Off GOP Critics of U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq Clinton Fends Off GOP Critics of U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq

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Sunday show blog

Clinton Fends Off GOP Critics of U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq

Bachmann warns of looming Iran, McCain says U.S. failed to "engage," and Graham calls full withdrawal a "serious mistake."

11:36. Bachmann: Iraq Should Reimburse U.S.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said on Sunday that Iraq should pay back the United States for the cost of its military involvement there.


“We put a lot of deposits into this situation with Iraq,” she said on CBS News’ Face the Nation, calling on Obama to return to the negotiating table in order to reach an agreement to keep troops in the country to keep the peace.

“I believe that Iraq should reimburse the United States wholly for the amount that we have spent to liberate these people,” she said. “They’re not a poor country, they’re a wealthy country.” 

-- David Kent


10:37. Bachmann: Iraq Withdrawal, Libya Overthrow Leave Instability

Presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann said on Sunday that a full withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the removal of Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya left the door open for instability in their respective regions.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, the Minnesota Republican said that although Iraq is a sovereign nation, troops should have been left there to “secure the peace,” and the Obama administration now leaves little legacy of success there. “They got absolutely nothing.... We have nothing to show for it,” she said.

She cautioned that once the U.S. military leaves, Iran will be given a “clear hand ... for more forays in that area,” and noted the U.S. has more troops in Honduras than will be left in Iraq.


Bachmann also said NATO’s U.S.-backed overthrow of Qaddafi has created “more instability in the region, not less,” adding that while she is glad the dictator is no longer in power, “we knew who the devil was” under his regime. Left unaccounted for, she said, chemical weapons and shoulder-fired missiles might make their way into the hands of Libya’s neighbors.

-- David Kent

10:30. McCain: ‘We Didn’t Engage’ With Iraq

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Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is emerging as one of the foremost critics of President Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East. Friday’s announcement of the United States’ troop withdrawal from the country has put him in attack mode.

On ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour, he made that point very clear. “It’s a serious mistake and there was never really serious negotiations” with Iraq to allow troops to remain, he said on Sunday. “It is viewed in the region as a victory for the Iranians, and I don’t there’s any doubt there is.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is making the rounds of the TV talk shows for the express purpose of tamping down statements like this, reminding everyone that the troop withdrawal was negotiated by President George W. Bush years ago. But she also used the television opportunities to send a message to Iranians: “No one, particularly Iran, should miscalculate about our continuing commitment with the Iraqis going forward,” she said on CNN’s State of the Union.

-- Fawn Johnson

10:05. Clinton Stresses Continued Iraq Involvement

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has two messages for anyone questioning how the United States’ troop withdrawal from Iraq will change things: First, this isn’t a surprise and shouldn’t be taken as one. And second, the United States isn’t abandoning Iraq.

“We are continuing a training mission in Iraq. That has been agreed to,” Clinton said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “This was a decision put into motion back in the Bush administration.”

Clinton also had some pointed words for Iranians who might view the United States withdrawal as an opportunity to move in. “It’s also important to underscore that Iran would be badly miscalculating if they did not look at the entire region and all of our presence in many countries in the region, both in bases, in training, with NATO allies like Turkey” she said. “I’m used to the president of Iran saying all kinds of things, but I think it’s important to set the record straight.”

Twice, she mentioned the strong NATO and United States presence in Turkey.

On ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour, Clinton issued a similar warning to Iraq. “We’re going to be present in Iraq, supporting the Iraqis and continually discussing with them what their needs are. And no one should miscalculate our commitment to Iraq, most particularly Iran,” she said.

There’s no question that the troop withdrawal will alter the relationship between Iraq and the United States. But Clinton’s appearances on a round of Sunday news programs, while she is on the job in Uzbekistan, are designed to tamp down any unnecessary furor resulting from the announcement. “We will not have combat troops and bases,” she said on CNN. “The support and training mission [in Iraq] is in addition to the usual marine contingent, the defense attaché and the other normal relations between our diplomats and the Department of Defense.” 

-- Fawn Johnson

9:49. Graham: Full Withdrawal From Iraq a ‘Serious Mistake’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Sunday criticized the Obama administration for failing to reach an agreement with Iraq for a long-term military presence there.

On Fox News Sunday, Graham called the full withdrawal from the country “a serious mistake” and dismissed the argument that the decision of a withdrawal was made under George W. Bush.

“It was ... the Obama administration’s decision to end this well. They failed,” he said, adding that had Obama decided to leave 10,000 to 15,000 peacekeeping troops in Iraq, he would have defended the president’s decision.

The senator also said he supported the Obama administration’s removing Muammar el-Qaddafi from power in Libya, but said the decision came too late to ensure lasting stability in the region.

“It was right to take Qaddafi down. It was right for the president to be involved,” Graham said, but added that the dictator stayed in power longer than he should have. “If you go to war, go to win. Don’t lead from behind.”

-- David Kent

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