Tim Arango, Baghdad Bureau Chief of the New York Times, lit up President Obama’s Middle East policies in a recent “Ask Me Anything” Q & A session with users of the online forum Reddit.
One user asked, “How do you rate the Obama administration’s actions in Iraq? What did they do right? What did they get wrong?
The Baghdad Bureau Chief responded by bluntly stating that the Obama administration since 2011 has “basically ignored the country [Iraq].”
He continued, “when [US] officials spoke about what was happening there they were often ignorant of the reality.”
The NYT correspondent said that Obama officials stubbornly refused to see the realities on the ground, “because it conflicted with their narrative.”
He then took a jab at Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken, known as one of the President’s trusted advisers on foreign policy.
“In 2012, as violence was escalating I wrote a story, citing UN statistics, that showed how civilian deaths from attacks were rising,” Arango added. “Tony Blinken, who was then Biden’s national security guy and a top Iraq official, pushed back, even wrote a letter to the editor, saying that violence was near historic lows. That was not true.”
Blinken is now Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama. After obtaining his JD Columbia Law School, he went straight into Democratic politics — fundraising for the presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis. Blinken then joined the Clinton administration under the assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian affairs. In 2008, he worked on Joe Biden’s failed campaign for President but was then appointed by President Obama to be his Deputy National Security Advisor in January of 2013.
VP Biden has previously referred to Blinken as his “go-to-guy” on Iraq — known for helping to facilitate the US withdrawal from Baghdad — a plan marred by the administration’s failure to secure a status-of-forces agreement.
Even when the Islamic State was marching across Iraq unchecked, Obama officials ignored the jihadi group’s rise because it wasn’t politically expedient to tackle such issues, according to the NYT journalist.
Arango concluded: “Even after falluja fell to ISIS at the end of last year, the administration would push back on stories about Maliki’s sectarian tendencies saying they didn’t see it that way. So there was a concerted effort by the administration not to acknowledge the obvious until it became apparent — with the fall of Mosul — that Iraq was collapsing.”