Fox News is continuing their campaign to rehabilitate the legacy of former President George W. Bush by falsely claiming that he predicted the rise of the Islamic State in 2007 speech. But Bush's speech was merely to garner support for the 2007 surge against al Qaeda in Iraq.
During an October 2 interview on Fox Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade spoke with Bush about the pull out of American forces in Iraq and the subsequent rise of the Islamic State. Kilmeade suggested that Bush predicted the rise of the Islamic State and asked the former president “How did you know” that “we needed a surge” in order to prevent an occurrence like this?
Kilmeade also asked Bush whether he agreed with Gen. Martin Dempsey's assessment that Obama should have left a residual military force in Iraq. And though Bush acknowledged that having a former president “second guessing” is not “good for the presidency or the country,” he said that he agreed with Dempsey's assessment.
Later that day, on The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson parroted the idea that Bush predicted the rise of the Islamic State claiming that “some of what he says has happened,” adding that Bush was “exactly right”:
On The Five, co-host Eric Bolling went further, commenting that "maybe the bad decision was to pull out too soon. As we pointed out George Bush predicted that if we had left a residual force in Iraq, maybe we wouldn't have Americans beheaded on tape.
But the 2007 speech Fox has repeatedly touted as evidence that Bush predicted the rise of the Islamic State was a speech specifically about fighting al Qaeda, not the Islamic State. The full transcript of the speech shows that Bush was specifically discussing al Qaeda, saying that pulling troops from the region before intelligence reported it was ready “would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaida” -- a line cut from Fox's clip of the statements:
I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we're ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaida.
It'd mean that we'd be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It'd mean we'd allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It'd mean we'd be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.
Despite Fox News' insistence that President Obama should be blamed for the rise of ISIS for pulling troops out of Iraq, in 2008 Bush signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which provided that U.S. troops pull out of Iraq by 2011. And later attempts to extend the SOFA “fell through after the Iraqis balked at a provision granting U.S. troops immunity from prosecution after 2011.”