Lance Cpl James Eric Swain Died in Fallujah, Iraq, at age 20 in 2004“President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women." —  Mitt Romney

“The last thing that you want to do is put those men and women’s lives in peril. And I think that's what the president’s done.” — Rick Perry

“The thing that I wouldn’t do that the president is doing is telling the enemy how many troops you’re going to bring out and when you’re going to bring them out. I don’t think that`s a good strategy.” — Herman Cain

Three candidates reading from the same script, as they begin a week in which they intend to prove that Barack Obama lost Iraq, when he announced that American troops will be withdrawn before the end of this year.

“President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women." —  Mitt Romney

“The last thing that you want to do is put those men and women’s lives in peril. And I think that's what the president’s done.” — Rick Perry

“The thing that I wouldn’t do that the president is doing is telling the enemy how many troops you’re going to bring out and when you’re going to bring them out. I don’t think that`s a good strategy.” — Herman Cain

Three candidates reading from the same script, as they begin a week in which they intend to prove that Barack Obama lost Iraq, when he announced that American troops will be withdrawn before the end of this year.

It’s a variation on the “who lost China” debate, except in this case no one is asked to choose between the president and the communists in the State Department.

The blame-Obama-for-Iraq campaign isn't limited to the candidates in the Republican primary.

Fred Kagan (predictably) makes the same argument in a more elaborate fashion in the online version of William Kristol's Weekly Standard.

Obama's failure, according to Kagan, was not inevitable. He was positioned to win the war he inherited from George W. Bush.

“When President Obama took office, the U.S. had more than 100,000 troops in Iraq who had just completed, together with the Iraqi Security Forces, driving off Iranian militias and clearing the last bastions of al Qaeda in Iraq and Sunni resistance forces,” Kagan writes.

As Kagan has it, Obama got weak in the knees and walked away from the fight.

“The president," Kagan writes, "has enunciated the Obama Doctrine: American retreat.”

The presidential candidates are doing what they do — taking it to the incumbent that one of them will take on next November. Kagan, and the other neocons who conceived of and promoted the war against Sadam Hussein, are covering their asses with newsprint while carrying a brief for their discredited doctrine of coercive diplomacy.

They are incapable of shame.

Go back to Kagan in the March 3, 2003, issue of the Weekly Standard. In 1,100 words he described the necessity of war against Iraq and reiterated the claim that Saddam Hussein had not given up his weapons of mass destruction.

“Unless a miracle occurs or we lose our will, this war will come,” Kagan wrote.

After the war “came” (a cheap appropriation of the language of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural), Kristol gave himself and his colleagues credit for pushing George W. Bush into a war they had been promoting since Bill Clinton was president:

“Obviously, we are gratified that the Iraq strategy we have long advocated — and whose contours were further specified in that December 1, 1997, issue, in articles by Zalmay Khalilzad and Paul Wolfowitz, Frederick W. Kagan, and Peter Rodman — has become the policy of the U.S. government, because we believe it is the right policy for the country and the world. But we feel no joy and little satisfaction…. Saddam has proven — he had proven by December 1997 — that he will not disarm peacefully. And he must be disarmed. So war will come.”

This summer, a group of scholars working at the Watson Institute at Brown University compiled a sobering document in which they spell out the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Human costs, economic costs, social and political costs.

Human costs to U.S. citizens were easy to quantify: more than 6,000 U.S. troops killed, 2,300 Pentagon contractors dead, more than 550,000 disability claims, and 70,000 allied troops wounded.

Counting civilian deaths was more challenging. The authors of the report came up with 125,000 to 140,000 dead in Afghanistan; at least 125,000 in Iraq; and 36,000 civilians killed in a war the U.S. refuses to acknowledge in Pakistan. (A scholar I know tells me the numbers are too low.)

The Watson Group's economic calculations included expenditures beyond the bombs, bullets, fuel, troop pay, and veterans benefits. They include, for example, money spent on war-related debt service. Their calculation of U.S. tax dollars spent on the wars begun by the previous administration: from $3.2 trillion to $4 trillion.

There are other metrics, such as the 3.5 million Iraqis who have fled their homes; 1,023,000 Afghan refugees living in Iran; 1,800,000 Afghans holed up in Pakistan, and 415,000 Afghans displaced internally in their own country.

Some numbers to consider this week, as the right-wing ideologues who made the case for the war a decade ago, and the Republican presidential candidates now advised by many of those same ideologues, describe Obama’s failure in Iraq.