“The alert, published on the embassy’s website on Wednesday, comes after Washington last week said it had detected new and urgent threats from Iran and its proxy forces in the region targeting Americans and American interests.”
Wall Street Journal: “As President George W. Bush pressed the case for war in Iraq in the summer of 2002, top State Department officials warned that an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein could spark internal Iraqi chaos, Middle East upheaval and threats to U.S. interests, according to formerly classified documents released this week.”
“While the existence of the-called ‘Perfect Storm’ memo has been reported previously, its contents had been secret. The letter and more than 80 other formerly classified documents … were released in conjunction with the publication of The Back Channel, a memoir by former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.”
Politico has an excerpt from the book.
Iraqi President Barham Salih said that President Trump did not ask Iraq’s permission for U.S. troops stationed there to “watch Iran,” as he told CBS News in an interview over the weekend, Reuters reports.
“U.S. troops in Iraq are there as part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific mission of combating terrorism, Salih said, and that they should stick to that.”
President Trump visited American military forces in Iraq, “a surprise trip and the first visit to troops stationed abroad in a combat zone by a commander in chief who has made withdrawing the United States from foreign wars a signature issue,” the New York Times reports.
“The trip, shrouded in secrecy, came in the midst of a partial government shutdown and less than a week after Mr. Trump disrupted America’s military status quo and infuriated even some of his staunchest political allies by announcing plans to withdraw all troops from Syria and about half of those stationed in Afghanistan. The president’s decision on Syria, made over the objections of American military generals and civilian advisers, led to the resignation of Mr. Trump’s defense secretary, Jim Mattis, and fueled tensions within the national security establishment.”
“President Trump twice raised to the Iraqi prime minister the idea of repaying America for its wars with Iraqi oil, a highly controversial ask that runs afoul of international norms and logic,” Axios reports.
“Trump appears to have finally given up on this idea, but until now it hasn’t been revealed that as president he’s raised the concept twice with Iraq’s prime minister and brought it up separately in the Situation Room with his national security team.”
“Top national security figures from both parties condemned Trump’s idea, calling it outrageous and unworkable — a violation of international law that would fuel the propaganda of America’s foes.”
Jared Kushner “made a trip to Iraq over the weekend, visiting the country as the American military is aiding Iraqi forces in their brutal fight to retake Mosul from the Islamic State,” the New York Times reports.
“It was unclear what Mr. Kushner, who has been expanding his reach in his father-in-law’s administration, planned to gain from the trip. A senior administration official confirmed the visit, saying that Mr. Kushner, 36, who serves as a senior adviser to Mr. Trump, was invited by Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the United States does not intend to seize Iraqi oil, shifting away from an idea proposed by President Trump that has rattled Iraq’s leaders, Politico reports.
“Mattis arrived on an unannounced visit in Iraq as the battle to oust Islamic State militants from western Mosul moved into its second day, and as the Pentagon considers ways to accelerate the campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria. Those efforts could be complicated by Trump’s oil threat and his inclusion of Iraq in the administration’s travel ban — twin blows that have roiled the nation and spurred local lawmakers to pressure Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to reduce cooperation with Washington.”
John Cassidy: “While the connection between the war to depose Saddam and the election of 2016 is indirect, it is etched in history. Without the invasion of Iraq, and the disillusionment with the U.S. political establishment that its terrible aftermath created, it is hard to see how a demagogue like Trump could ever have gained traction in national politics.”
“Yes, many factors played into his rise to power: deindustrialization, stagnant wages, racial resentments, class resentments, sexism, a craven broadcast media that gave him huge amounts of free airtime, strategic blunders by his opponent and her campaign, and the last-minute intervention of James Comey, the director of the F.B.I. Indeed, the problem with trying to explain Hillary Clinton’s defeat is that it was overdetermined: all sorts of arguments can seem persuasive. But the popular perception of a world gone haywire, a perception that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan helped to create, was also an important factor.”
“Until the war is over, anything is legal.”
— Rudy Giuliani, in an interview on ABC News, saying that taking Iraq’s oil would have been legal.
Donald Trump suggested at a rally that U.S. combat veterans stole money from Iraq reconstruction efforts.
“History will be the ultimate judge of our decision to liberate Iraq.”
— Former Vice President Dick Cheney, quoted by MSNBC.
Gov. John Kasich told CNN he never would have taken the United States to war in Iraq.
Said Kasich: “I would never have committed ourselves to Iraq.”
But in November 2002, Kasich, then a former congressman, made a very different argument: “We should go to war with Iraq. It’s not likely that (Saddam) Hussein will give up his weapons. If he did he would be disgraced in the Arab world.”
Gov. Chris Christie hammered Jeb Bush for comments the presidential rival recently made about the war in Iraq, the Newark Star Ledger reports.
Said Christie: “There’s no reason to go back and try to re-litigate this. it’s a bad decision by Gov. Bush, but I’m not running his campaign. It makes no sense for us to re-litigate yesterday. Common sense will tell you this is not a fight we want to have again.”
Jeb Bush, in his speech this week that was billed as a major foreign policy address, “provided a distorted version of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq and an incorrect account of the origins of the Islamic State,” according to McClatchy.
“Bush vowed that if elected he would expand U.S. military intervention in the Middle East significantly. His version of events, however, seemed intended to absolve his brother, President George W. Bush, of blame in destabilizing the region while trying to pin the region’s current bloodshed on President Obama and his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.”
“Bush’s account of the withdrawal as a ‘case of blind haste’ omitted the fact that it was his brother who’d set the withdrawal date of Dec. 31, 2011, in an agreement that he signed with the Iraqi government in 2008. He also neglected to note that the Iraqi government strongly opposed the continued presence of U.S. forces.”
“It’s not nation-building. We are assisting them in building their nation.”
— Sen. Marco Rubio, quoted by Business Insider, on his vision for Iraq.
President Obama, “under growing pressure after a setback in the war against Islamic State, is poised to accelerate the training and equipping of Sunni tribal fighters so they can try to reverse the extremists’ recent gains,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Obama met with top national-security advisers “in the aftermath of a humiliating defeat of Iraqi security forces in the city of Ramadi… U.S. officials initially played down the importance of the takeover of Ramadi, 70 miles northwest of Baghdad in Iraq’s largest province. But the battle exposed crucial weaknesses within the Iraqi military, which is at the heart of the American strategy, and prompted the White House to acknowledge a setback.”
“After a week of painfully struggling to talk about the war in Iraq started by his brother,” Jeb Bush (R) said definitively “that he would not have invaded that country based on the intelligence failures that now are known,” the Washington Post reports.
Said Bush: “Knowing what we now know, I would not have engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.”
“Bush said the lives of U.S. armed forces were not lost in vain -– ‘their sacrifice was worth honoring, not depreciating’ — but that given the intelligence failures that have since been established, he would not have led the country into war in Iraq.”
National Journal: Bush’s four different answers to the same Iraq question