Gen. Ray Odierno, the U.S. Army’s top officer, pushed back on the Iraq War blame game that has dominated the GOP 2016 presidential campaign trail, saying that the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 was the Bush administration’s plan all along. Odierno, formerly the senior U.S. general in Iraq, said he was unconvinced at the time that the Iraqi parliament would have approved a longer stay for American troops had Obama administration officials successfully negotiated for it.
The Iraq War has jumped back into headlines recently as Republican candidates attempt to tie the U.S. withdrawal in 2011 — and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in it — to the rise of the Islamic State. In a major national security speech on Tuesday, Jeb Bush criticized Clinton and President Barack Obama for removing U.S. troops from Iraq. “That premature withdrawal was the fatal error, creating the void that ISIS moved in to fill – and that Iran has exploited to the full as well,” said Bush, a former Florida governor and brother of President George W. Bush.