It looks like Gen. James Amos may not get invited to any Obama administration reunions in the coming years.
In a talk at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday covered by Foreign Policy’s Kate Brannen, the Commandant of the Marine Corps stepped front-and-center into the political debate over the chaos in Iraq, and he took aim at the White House.
“I have a hard time believing that had we been there [in Iraq], and worked with the government, and worked with parliament, and worked with the minister of defence, the minister of interior, I don’t think we’d be in the same shape we’re in today,” Amos said.
While he didn’t explicitly call out Obama while talking about Iraq, it’s certainly being interpreted that way. And it’s rather unusual for an active-duty officer to say things that can be viewed as critical towards his or her boss.
Fiscal Times writes:
Perhaps Amos felt free to voice opinions on White House policy because he is set to retire this fall. Now, his comments are likely to influence the debate within the defence community about how to handle the myriad of crises going on around the world.
The last American troops left Iraq in 2011 as a result of an agreement negotiated by the Bush administration. But some have criticised Obama for not pushing harder to leave at least some U.S. military presence to remain in the country.
With little U.S. leadership and an Iraqi prime minister with sectarian tendencies, it took less than three years for the country to fall into chaos.
As militants continued their assault on major Iraqi cities in June, two former senior defence officials largely echoed Amos’ comments but would only speak to Business Insider on condition of anonymity.
“What we’re seeing now is exactly what we forecasted,” a retired senior military officer told Business Insider in June.
On global engagement, Amos’ remarks could be taken as both critical of the Obama administration — which has been called “risk-averse” — and others who have pushed for a more isolationist posture.
“We may think we’re done with all of these nasty, thorny, tacky little things that are going on around the world,” Amos said. “And I’d argue that if you’re in that nation, it’s not a tacky, little thing for you. We may think we’re done with them, but they’re not done with us.”
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