Politics

Biden Adviser Blames Bush for Obama Troop Withdrawal, Rise of ISIS

A foreign policy adviser to Joe Biden's presidential campaign on Monday blamed former president George W. Bush for the Obama administration's withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, which resulted in the rise of the Islamic State.

Tony Blinken, who served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration, touted the former vice president's role in overseeing the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq as a success. CNN anchor Brianna Keilar challenged his argument, saying the withdrawal was responsible for the rise of ISIS. Blinken then attempted to blame the Bush administration for the decision to leave Iraq.

"Listen, I think it was a success in the sense that Iraq wanted its sovereignty back. That was the deal that President Bush had struck with Iraq. We made good on that commitment," Blinken said. "Biden was the guy who worked to bring together a coalition of more than 65 countries to deal with ISIS. And we did it very successfully."

"But the rise of ISIS is not seen as just Iraq's fault. That is something that is widely perceived to have been a huge American misstep, but you're touting it as a success," Keilar said.

Blinken doubled down on blaming Bush for making an agreement to get all the troops out of Iraq and absolved Obama and Biden of the decision.

"Listen, as someone who was part of that effort, I can tell you, we worked it very, very, very hard. I was there a lot, the vice president was deeply engaged," Blinken said. "We needed to make good on the commitments that President Bush had made and we continued to bring Americans home."

The CNN anchor also asked Blinken whether Biden was misrepresenting his record on Iraq by saying he opposed the war despite voting to authorize military force.

"First of all, when Joe Biden and many other senators voted for the authorization to use military force, that was a vote for tough diplomacy, not to go to war," Blinken said. He added that once troops were committed to battle it was important to Biden to support U.S. troops.

"I guess I don't understand, then how is that not—how is he not misrepresenting his view, if he's saying, basically, ‘It was from the beginning. It was from the start.' Because it wasn't," Keilar said.

"From the start, he made clear his opposition of the way we went to war and the way it was being conducted," Blinken said.