Clinton Lost Strategy Fight on How to Keep Iraq Stable
She wanted a bigger US presence, but her State Department ended up gutting programs
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2016 5:19 PM CDT
The last convoy of solders from the US Army's 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, crosses the border from Iraq into Kuwait, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

(Newser) – Donald Trump likes to lay much of the blame for the rise of ISIS on Hillary Clinton, though a joint investigation by ProPublica and the Washington Post finds that there's plenty of blame to go around. "An intensive review of the record during Clinton’s tenure presents a broader picture of missteps and miscalculations by multiple actors—including her State Department as well as the Maliki government, the White House and Congress—that left Iraqi security forces weakened and vulnerable to the Islamic State’s 2014 surge," write Jeff Gerth and Joby Warrick. The piece makes clear that Clinton herself fought for a "robust" civilian presence to replace departing US troops, experts who would provide training and deliver on-the-ground intelligence. She also wanted to keep a modest US military presence.

However, she lost that fight to top national security advisers at the White House, including Joe Biden. Congress didn't have much appetite for the State Department's "ambitious" plans for a largely civilian takeover of military programs, either. In fact, pressure mounted to reduce the existing US footprint. "Clinton, having lost the argument for a larger force, was briefed about the developments but left it to her subordinates to decide how the cuts would be implemented," says the story. It leaves the impression that those cuts to programs once considered vital for Iraq's stability happened too quickly—the upshot being that the lack of a strong US presence, combined with misguided moves by Nouri al-Maliki, created a void that allowed the Islamic State to surge. Click to read the full piece.