“I found him an admirable and amiable man. But he was past the point where he was willing to entertain a ‘good idea.’ He didn’t want to hear more; he wanted our forces out of Iraq. Whatever path led there fastest, he favored,” Mattis writes. “He exuded the confidence of a man whose mind was made up, perhaps even indifferent to considering the consequences were he judging the situation incorrectly.”
Biden reassured Mattis that Maliki wouldn’t eject all American troops from the country.
“Maliki wants us to stick around, because he does not see a future in Iraq otherwise,” Biden said. “I’ll bet you my vice presidency.”
Mattis doesn’t say whether he tried to collect on that bet. As he writes, “In October 2011, Prime Minister Maliki and President Obama agreed that all U.S. forces would leave at the end of the year.”
Mattis’ warnings proved prescient, as Maliki, free of American influence, went after Sunni politicians and districts, alienating a third of the country. “Iraq slipped back into escalating violence. It was like watching a car wreck in slow motion,” Mattis writes. A Sunni revolt and a weak Iraqi Army allowed al Qaeda-aligned terrorists to return in 2014, calling themselves the Islamic State.