“On Iraq, Miller’s primary critique is that Obama withdrew all U.S. forces in December 2011 instead of pressing the Maliki government in Baghdad to approve a new Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that allowed for a residual presence. According to Miller, although the Obama administration did try to negotiate a new SOFA that would keep 10,000 troops in Iraq, “when negotiations got difficult, he walked away.” But that depiction differs considerably from the accounts of people who were involved in the negotiations and much in-depth reporting at the time. Talks were stalemated for months and in the end Baghdad wouldn’t agree to allow a residual force unless the troops could be stripped of immunity from Iraqi law.
Many critics of Obama’s decision to withdraw argue that the administration just didn’t try hard enough. But one is at pains to find a single detractor who can detail precisely what negotiating tactic or position would have made the Maliki government cave to U.S. preferences for a residual force. If it were so simple, one wonders why the Bush administration, whose desire to keep troops in Iraq no one doubted, was forced to accept a SOFA in 2008 that called for complete withdrawal in 2011.” — Trevor Thrall & John Glaser, Cato Institute