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Obama living up to Bush's terms on Iraq withdrawal, spokesman says

October 24, 2011|By Michael Muskal | Los Angeles Times
  • U.S. soldiers patrol the Tigris River south of Baghdad in September 2007.
U.S. soldiers patrol the Tigris River south of Baghdad in September 2007. (David Furst / AFP/Getty…)

The Obama administration is finding some new political cover by invoking the Bush administration after Republican presidential hopefuls stepped up their attacks on the president’s announcement that the United States would withdraw its troops from Iraq by year’s end.

Relations between any presidential administration and its predecessor are never easy, especially when they represent different parties and sharply dissimilar philosophies  as is the case between the presidencies of Barack Obama and George W. Bush. On the economic front, the Obama administration has long argued that the deep political hole it inherited from the Bush years has caused a big part of the president’s current woes.

In a briefing with reporters aboard Air Force One, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney cited the Bush administration as he fielded a question about the GOP response to the announced troop withdrawal from Iraq. It was Bush who launched the Iraq campaign when he called Iraq part of the axis of evil that threatened the United States and said it was linked to international terrorism and wanted to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Both claims were questioned by critics, especially after no such major weapons were recovered during the more than eight years of the U.S.-led war.

In a question, a reporter described the Republicans as accusing Obama as acting  “based on political motivations and just sort of sheer ineptitude.” Carney fired back that the commitment to withdraw by the end of the year was part of an agreement “signed by the Iraqi government and the Bush administration.

“So in response to the criticism, I just have to ask, you know, what country are they living in? What planet are they living on,” Carney said of the Republicans.

“Because, again, this president has — from the very beginning when he ran for office, he made clear what he wanted to do in Iraq, which was end this war responsibly in a way that was in the best interests of the United States. He made clear from the beginning that he would keep the commitment made by the Bush administration with the sovereign Iraqi government to withdraw all U.S. forces by the end of 2011,” he said.

Lest anyone miss the connection, Carney later went back to the Bush administration a third time, wondering what the Republicans wanted.

“Are they suggesting that we violate an agreement that’s signed by the Bush administration with the sovereign government of Iraq? That we keep troops there without the consent and agreement of the Iraqi government?” Carney said.

michael.muskal@latimes.com

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