George Graham

No Sense of Decency, Sir?


casualtiesI was agog last night when I heard Jeb Bush (above) reinvent the history of his brother’s war, and I was even more agog when none of the TV pundits set him straight.

According to Jeb, here’s what happened:

Heroic American troops, deployed in a brilliantly conceived and executed surge, had beaten back the insurgents in Iraq and eliminated the al Qaida threat, but this glorious achievement was undone by Hillary Clinton and President Obama who prematurely withdrew American troops from Iraq, and it was this blunder that created ISIS.

Really, Jeb? Is that the way you remember it?

Here’s how I remember it:

After shamefully manipulating America into the disastrous adventure in Iraq, George W. Bush discovered (to quote his own words) that “a successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations.”  But he agreed (after he was badgered relentlessly by hawks like Senator McCain) to significantly increase the number of troops in 2007 – a maneuver that became known as “the surge.” Bush said the deployment of extra troops was intended  to protect Baghdad and Al Anbar Province, buying time for the warring factions within Iraq (Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds) to iron out their differences (which never happened).

The “surge” did not “win” the Iraq war. Bush may have thought his “mission accomplished,” but later events proved him sadly mistaken. And that “surge” had absolutely nothing to do with al Qaida or its monstrous offspring, ISIS.

Fuirthermore, surge or no surge, it was President Bush who negotiated the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. President Obama did his best to expedite it, of course, but he ended up following the Bush timetable after all was said and done.

The 2008 Status of Forces Agreement was negotiated between the Bush administration and the Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki. That agreeement set the deadline of December 31, 2011, for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq. In October 2011, President Obama announced that all U.S. troops would be out of Iraq “before Christmas.”

President Obama tried to renogiate the agreement to let 10,000 US troops remain in Iraq but al-Maliki refused to provide the customary immunity for the soldiers that would be based there so Obama had no choice but to bring them home.

As for Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State at the time, I can find no record of her involvement in the timing of US troop withdrawals from Iraq.

I vaguely remember that General George Casey and General John Abizaid conducted a campaign against al Qaida and killed offf some of the terrorist group’s leaders (as the Obama Administration has continued to do). But they did not succeed in eliminating al Qaida. And  President Bush certainly did not succeed in bringing stability, peace and democracy to Iraq.

George W. Bush will forever be remembered for initiating and prosecuting the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and for creating the instability that has resulted in today’s horrors. Investigative journalist and author Robert Parry sums up Bush’s bleak legacy this way:

In the final accounting of the neocon adventure of conquering Iraq, nearly 4,500 American soldiers had died; some 30,000 were wounded; and an estimated $1 trillion was squandered. What was ultimately left behind was not only a devastated Iraqi nation but an authoritarian Shiite government (in place of Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian Sunni government) and an Iraq that had become a regional ally of Iran (rather than a bulwark against Iran).

For Jeb Bush to twist the facts so grossly is to add insult to injury. Someone should have asked him – as Special Counsel for the Army Joseph N. Welch famously asked Senator Joseph McCarthy back in the early Fifties:

 Have you no sense of decency, sir?

Click for Jeb’s rewrite of history.

Click for a more realistic view of “the surge.”

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for