CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Here is why the history is crucial. The reason that al-Maliki does not listen to Obama -- no matter what he says about reconciling with the Sunnis -- is because America has no leverage. America evacuated. Obama decided we were going to liquidate our presence. We were supposed to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement and to leave a residual element in Iraq that would train the air force, that would train the army, that would also have special forces on the ground that would go on operations, and that perhaps most important, would mediate between the Sunnis and the Shiites and the Kurds as it had been doing during the surge.
Instead, Obama decided for political reasons that he would evacuate and call it a great victory. He ended the war, but he ended the war in a way that liquidated our gains. The war was won when Obama came into office; al Qaeda was completely decimated. The Anbar Sunnis, who are now under attack, had had turned against al Qaeda, joined the infidel -- us -- in defeating al Qaeda. And al-Maliki had taken all the extremists Shiites in Basra and all the way up into Baghdad as a demonstration of how he is a nationalist and not just a sectarian. All of this happening, what we needed was an agreement and a presence. Obama liquidated it and as a result he has created a vacuum in which Iran has come in, al Qaeda is strong. Not only now in Iraq, but also in Syria and it is a catastrophe.