Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
By Fareed Zakaria
If the Bush administration deserves a fair share of blame for “losing Iraq,” what about the Obama administration and its decision to withdraw all American forces from the country by the end of 2011?
I would have preferred to see a small American force left in Iraq to try to prevent the country's collapse. But let's remember why this force is not in Iraq. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki refused to provide the guarantees that every other country in the world that hosts U.S. forces provides.
Some commentators have blamed the Obama administration for negotiating badly or half-heartedly and perhaps this is true. But here's what a senior Iraqi politician told me in the days the American deal was being discussed. “It will not happen,” he said, “Maliki cannot allow American troops to stay on. Iran has made very clear to Maliki that its number one demand is that there be no American troops remaining in Iraq. And Maliki owes them.”
This Iraqi politician reminded me that Maliki had spent more than two decades in exile, most of it in Tehran and Damascus and his party had been funded by Iran for most of its existence…
…Washington is debating whether air strikes would work or training forces would be more effective, but its real problem is much larger and is a decade in the making. In Iraq, it is defending the indefensible.
Watch the video for the full Take or read the WaPo column.