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Fact check: How do Obama, Romney differ on Iraq?

October 22, 2012|By Shashank Bengali
  • President Obama debates with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.
President Obama debates with Republican presidential candidate Mitt… (Rick Wilking / Getty Images )

President Obama said in the third debate that “what I would not have done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down.”

But his administration tried to persuade the Iraqi government to allow some U.S. troops to remain in Iraq.

Obama administration officials worked for several months in 2010 and 2011 to hammer out a status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government that would allow a few thousand troops to stay in a noncombat role.

At first it seemed the Iraqis would agree. In August 2011, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, “My view is that they finally did say yes to a continued U.S. troops presence.”

But the negotiations fell apart over Iraq’s unwillingness to grant U.S. soldiers immunity from prosecution. The last U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq in December.

On the campaign trail, Romney has argued that the “abrupt withdrawal” has left the U.S. unable to influence the Iraqi government. “The president tried — and failed — to secure a responsible and gradual drawdown that would have better secured our gains,” Romney said on Oct. 8.

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shashank.bengali@latimes.com

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