The United States needed a working democratic partnership in Iraq and we should have demanded that Iraq repay the full cost of liberating them given their rich oil revenues.So, we should just take their money if they don't think they should pay us for invading their country, destroying its infrastructure, sparking a civil war and killing a hundred thousand Iraqis?
To begin with, former President Bush is the one who signed the agreement with the Iraqis to withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of this year. Obama has tried to modify the agreement to extend the stay of some American troops, but since our primary demand is that Americans who commit crimes in Iraq can't be charged under Iraqi law, the Iraqis won't agree. Could anyone blame them, given the history of Blackwater "contractors?"
The reason Iran is in a position to exert so much influence in Iraq in the first place is that President Bush invaded Iraq and removed Saddam Hussein and his fellow Sunnis from power. These people were opposed to (and repressed) the majority Iraqi Shiites, who are now in power and are much more sympathetic to Iran, which is also a majority Shiite country.
When the allegations that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and had huge stockpiles of WMDs were revealed to be false, Bush changed his tune about why we needed to invade. He said we needed to liberate Iraq, depose a dictator and establish a beachhead for democracy.
The people of Iraq have now legally elected a government run by Shiites, who are the majority. It is a democracy, however imperfect, and the United States doesn't invade democracies. Our troops are guests of one of our erstwhile allies, and we remain only at their request. And they're not asking us to stay.
When Bush and Cheney pushed the invasion of Iraq they claimed it would be a cakewalk and we would be welcomed as liberators. They made this claim because the Iraqi National Congress, headed by Ahmed Chalabi, told them this would be so. It wasn't, and the war lasted years instead of weeks as Cheney and Rumsfeld promised. It now appears that Chalabi was actually an agent for the Iranians, something also alleged in a FOX News editorial from 2004, after the US had a falling out with Chalabi. It's now clear that Chalabi and the Iranians used Bush and Cheney's lust for revenge and oil to get rid of Saddam for them. Bush's invasion of Iraq is what actually strengthened Iran's hand. Bush has left Obama with empty coffers and a very poor poker hand.
Because the United States and the rest of the Middle East had long relied on Saddam and Iraq as a bulwark against Shiite Persian influence George H. W. Bush stopped short of invading Iraq after ejecting Saddam from Kuwait in the Gulf War. Allowing a dictator to stay on to fight our enemies is somewhat cynical and self-serving, it is true, but such is the calculus of Republican administrations. But then W and Cheney fell into the trap that HW and Cheney had avoided a decade earlier.
Iran and Iraq fought a long and bloody war in the 80s, during which the United States publicly backed Iraq, providing intelligence and weapons. In 1987 the USS Stark was hit by two Iraqi Exocet missiles, killing 37 Americans. There were no repercussions for Saddam. The Reagan administration removed Iraq from the list of terrorist sponsoring countries, allowing Saddam to obtain the chemical precursors for poison gas WMDs. These were ultimately used for nerve gas attacks against Iranian troops and Iraqi civilians in Halabja in 1988 (though at the time the Reagan administration tried to blame Iran). This crime against humanity was one of the charges that ultimately led to Saddam's execution. After the Gulf War we destroyed all those WMDs, scouring the country for years.
Earlier in the Iran-Iraq war, the Reagan administration sold TOW and Hawk missiles to Iran in exchange for Hezbollah releasing some hostages, using Israel as an intermediary. This was what Ron Paul was talking about when he shocked everyone in the last debate by saying that Reagan cut deals with terrorists. The Reagan administration then used that money to fund right-wing death squads in Central America. Oliver North went to jail because of this, but the higher-ups were all pardoned by George H. W. Bush while the case was still being investigated.
Finally, there have been credible allegations from a former National Security Council member and a Reagan White House staffer that Reagan had dealings with Iran as long ago as 1980, even before he was elected. To improve his chances of election, Reagan's minions worked to prevent the release of Americans taken hostage at the American embassy in Tehran so that Jimmy Carter would look bad. The Israelis sent equipment to Iran after William Casey (Reagan's eventual CIA director) cut a deal with the Iranians. Perhaps the most telling point was that Iran released the hostages on Reagan's inauguration day.
The Republicans have a long history of cutting deals with the Iranians or being duped by them. The current crop of Republican candidates -- with the exception of Ron Paul -- is either willfully ignorant of history, or lying about it. They have demonstrated that they would make exactly the same kinds of mistakes that Republicans have made on Iraq and Iran all the way back to the 1950s.
We've already spent a trillion dollars on Iraq. If we overstay our invitation to extract Bachmann's price from Iraq, the whole place will erupt in fire and war again. But you can't squeeze oil out of a burning turnip.