Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Will Obama repeat Bush’s big mistake in Iraq?

It seems to me that by vowing to get out of Iraq in 16 months, President Obama is not departing from the mistakes of George Bush, but repeating them. That is, Bush was persistently overoptimistic about Iraq. His original war plan assumed that the United States would get down to 30,000 troops in Iraq by ...

588352_090220_obama2.jpg
588352_090220_obama2.jpg

It seems to me that by vowing to get out of Iraq in 16 months, President Obama is not departing from the mistakes of George Bush, but repeating them. That is, Bush was persistently overoptimistic about Iraq. His original war plan assumed that the United States would get down to 30,000 troops in Iraq by the fall of 2003. Instead, here we are more than five years later with more than four times that number of troops mired in Iraq. I hope we can stop planning for Iraq only on best-case assumptions. I mean, it hasn't worked, I think.

It is time to start thinking realistically about Iraq, and stop walking in the failed footsteps of Bush, as Jason Raimondo would have us do, even though he doesn't seem to understand that. And good for you, Joan Walsh.

It seems to me that by vowing to get out of Iraq in 16 months, President Obama is not departing from the mistakes of George Bush, but repeating them. That is, Bush was persistently overoptimistic about Iraq. His original war plan assumed that the United States would get down to 30,000 troops in Iraq by the fall of 2003. Instead, here we are more than five years later with more than four times that number of troops mired in Iraq. I hope we can stop planning for Iraq only on best-case assumptions. I mean, it hasn’t worked, I think.

It is time to start thinking realistically about Iraq, and stop walking in the failed footsteps of Bush, as Jason Raimondo would have us do, even though he doesn’t seem to understand that. And good for you, Joan Walsh.

Lorie Jewell/U.S. Army via Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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