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Ron Radosh

If George W. Bush is to be blamed for the original intervention, Barack Obama shares equal blame for the disastrous nature of the withdrawal he has undertaken. As Filkins puts it, “By 2011, by any reasonable measure, the Americans had made a lot of headway but were not finished with the job.” Barack Obama did not get us into the war in Iraq, and he gained office pledging to get the U.S. out of the engagement. But the U.S. was in, and as a result of his policies, our enemies are emboldened and strengthened. As David Brooks writes today, taking off from Filkins, “the Obama administration took off the training wheels by not seriously negotiating the NATO status of forces agreement that would have maintained some smaller American presence.” The administration expected only minor negative effects from their action. Instead, they ignored all the signs that they were increasing the chances of a full-fledged insurgency led by the most extreme elements among the Sunnis.

Now, as Canon Andrew White, an activist in the Christian community in Iraq, writes on his blog, ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) “has moved into Mosul, which is Nineveh [the main Christian community in Iraq]. It has totally taken control, destroyed all government departments. Allowed all prisoners out of the prisons. Killed countless numbers of people. There are bodies over the streets. The army and police have fled, so many of the military resources have been captured. Tankers, armed vehicles and even helicopters are now in the hands of ISIS.”

Of course, we know that Iraq is not the only foreign policy disaster Obama has contributed to in the Middle East. He did not act four years ago when he might have been able to give aid to moderate elements in Syria opposed to the Assad regime. Instead, Syria became a staging ground where ISIS has been able to prepare its forces for the fight in Iraq, which is now in danger of spreading to Lebanon and Jordan as well. So Brooks agrees with Filkins, and writes:  “By withdrawing too quickly from Iraq, by failing to build upon the surge, the Obama administration has made some similar mistakes made during the early administration of George W. Bush, except in reverse.”

Brooks, I think, is naïve to believe that at this late date, help to Maliki could ease sectarian tensions. The void we left is being filled with Iranian forces.  It is fanciful to believe that Maliki would suddenly accept Iraq’s diversity, and balance his administration with substantial Sunni representation. Nor would he be able now, as his army runs in retreat everywhere, to professionalize the army as Brooks thinks possible. It certainly will never happen given the lack of leadership and vision by the current administration.

No wonder John McCain is mad. He has been attacked in the past as one who supposedly is calling for boots on the ground and never-ending war — the charge levied against him by libertarians and paleo-conservatives and non-interventionists. Speaking today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, McCain said — echoing the arguments of Filkins and Brooks: “The fact is, we had the conflict won. The surge had succeeded. And then, the decision was made by the Obama administration to not have a residual force in Iraq.” He pointed out that to this day, the U.S. has troops stationed in South Korea, as it did in other areas of Europe after conflicts came to an end, as in Germany and Japan after World War II, and in Bosnia after the Kosovo crisis ended.

McCain thinks Obama should fire his entire National Security Council — made up largely today of political hacks with no foreign policy experience. He noted after a testy exchange with Mika Brzezinski that during the Bush administration, he argued that Bush should have fired Donald Rumsfeld for the policy he oversaw in Iraq at the time. McCain ended his comments by stating: “We’re talking about a residual force to keep a nation stable, and the American people would support such a thing if it was explained to them.”

I’m afraid that without another team of advisers in place, President Barack Obama will continue to stumble, and the threats facing the United States will only increase. Sometimes, it becomes apparent that “leading from behind” is not a policy.

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Top Rated Comments   
Valerie Jarrett: "After we win this election, it's our turn. Payback time. Everyone not with us is against us and they better be ready because we don't forget. The ones who helped us will be rewarded, the ones who opposed us will get what they deserve. There is going to be hell to pay! Congress won't be a problem for us this time. No election to worry about after this is over and we have two judges ready to go."
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Monday, January 6, 2014
An Epic Expression of Failed [Petraeus] COIN Strategy; Fallujah falls to Al Qaida Factions.

John Bernard: "For the better part of five years, I have been decrying the unconscionable use of the historically failed strategy of Counter Insurgency (COIN) in the midst of an ideological monolithic culture; principally of Islam.
What is so damnably frustrating about this is that too many of us to list, foretold of this, years ago. And if there were any left in this country who still held onto the belief that either our civilian leadership or the left-listing General Grade Officers which populate the upper echelon of our Military structure were somehow visionaries and intellectuals, this latest manifestation of a failure of foresight should hopefully drive a spike through the heart of that lingering belief.

Not once - but twice, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers were asked to lay down their lives, "liberating" Al Anbar and most specifically, Fallujah; the second time being tightly restrained by the rigid ROE (Rules of Engagement) borne of the incomprehensibly idiotic paradigm of COIN! And now, two years later, that effort and all that blood, proves to have been for naught!
Third, it is not our place, constitutionally or even morally, to save any people from themselves. Civil wars and internal strife are, by definition, internal. In our haste to re-establish some semblance of order in a country we had invaded, choices were made which changed the dynamics of the balance of power, giving control to the Shiite majority, placing that nation in league with Iran and at odds with Al Qaida which is principally Sunni.

It is clear, these years later, that Al Qaida and the Sunni population in Iraq do not intend to sit idly by, allowing the status quo to stand. Attacking Al Anbar, taking Fallujah and the capital, Ramadi, sends a clear message to Baghdad. It also should cause the "dead" in DC to take note. Where there were assurances made about the strategy shift to COIN and the naïve compartmentalization of Iraqi society during the war, it ought to be crystal clear now that those assumptions were wrought with error. It should also be clear that interfering in another nation's governmental business or trying to fix a perceived problem in that regard can yield unintended consequences."
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama is unlikely to change advisers. These are his people, his clones. There is no Obama without Jarrett. They are one and the same.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (78)
All Comments   (78)
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I wouldn't play politics with the Iraq crises: there is too much at stake.

Our involvement in Iraq changed the country completely from a Sunni dominated secular tyranny to a Shia dominated religious tyranny.

I would suggest that we concentrate on the now and the future and stop arguing about "who was at fault." The cause lies within the mideast itself, its history and geography as well as its demographics.

We need to recognize the dangers involved right now in doing nothing. We can't allow Iran to take over the country anymore than we can allow the Islamists to take over.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is a cheap shot perhaps, but when do we have a responsibility to save people from themselves? What burden should we take on? Accepting responsibility for their madness? It does not make sense to lose lives to try and save others who have better things to do than save themselves.
EVERY country in the middle east should be quarantined. No humanitarian aid, no shipping, no flights, no cultural exchange, no banking access. Nothing.
Every country should look at their immigration policy and ask themselves: are these people worth accepting and putting our people at risk? A lot of people would gasp in horror but I ask them: would you rather gasp in horror at that or flinch every time a New York, or Boston, or London, or Madrid is attacked? Oil? We have plenty, thank you. What are the odds that Europe couldn't benefit from fracking? Energy is abundant.
What about Russia and China, you ask? What about them? Are they working in our interest? I think not. Would THEY want to open their borders as we have to the Muslim immigrants that bring with them their pestilent religion? I don't think so.
Who cares how the middle east map was drawn one hundred years ago? The only correct action the west has ever done in the middle east is to allow Israel to be born. If there were ever a correct action to take would be to use Israel as an aircraft carrier in a sea of hate and bomb them to smithereens. Let them crawl out of the rubble and ask themselves "Now what?"
From Morocco to the Sudan, and from Bosnia through Turkey to Afghanistan AND Pakistan, let them implode and be done with it.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Iraq was created at the end of WW1 that was a far different time and ISLAM was not a factor. It was relatively peaceful and quiescent and it had been so for hundreds of years after they had been put back in their rightful place by the CRUSADES and all the 'ADVANCES' they had made by plagiarising the intellectual discoveries and inventions of conquered states and countries had been overtaken and far surpassed by Western Nations as ISLAM STAGNATED so Sunni /Shia differences did not matter. It also was not yet enriched and emboldened by undeserved oil revenues, a commodity they knew nothing whatsoever about even though they lived on top of it and a commodity for which no Muslim ever invented the ability to discover , recover, refine or to make machines to USE.
The Western Nations had also not yet been weakened by 'Yuman Rites' spouting, Politically Correct, Multi Culti, Green NAZI SOCIALISTS and in the case of the USA by 'White Guilt' and Black RACISM.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not a question of what we can do. The question is whether we should do anything at all. The history of this administration is nothing but foreign policy failure. The first rule when you're trapped in a hole is to stop digging.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Pipes is an optimist. Like David Goldman, an associate of his, he thinks that Arab nationalists could have kept the lid on Islamists. His 2003 article argued that once we had removed Saddam we should immediately put in a benign strongman, an Ataturk. That would have bought time but not much more.

The days of secular nationalists are almost over. Mubark was disposed and the Muslim Brotherhood easily got the votes. The military saw it had one last change and took control ... for now. Assad is under siege in Syria. Saddam presided over a nation that was becoming increasingly religious. Gaddafi is gone. It didn't take much to end the reign of these secular thugs.

Muslims are returning to Islam. It is known as the Islamic revival. Islamists got the votes in Algeria, Turkey and Egypt -- major Islamic nations, not backwater hillbilly territory like Afghanistan. This is a dynamic internal to their culture.

Neither Bush nor Obama is to blame for Islam. The Islamic civil war can't be avoided but we can keep out of it. We can only alter the timing or place. The decent into Islam has to play out.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's the really great thing about making bad choices.

Eventually, you are left with zero GOOD choices.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sunnis and Shiites fighting ... ... how is that bad for us infidels?

Now if we could just gather them up and put them fixed in Northern Mexico maybe we wouldn't have so many Mexicans and Central American third world invaders coming across our southern border as they wouldn't want to run that gauntlet.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country. War does not always give over democratic communities to military government, but it must invariably and immeasurably increase the powers of civil government; it must almost compulsorily concentrate the direction of all men and the management of all things in the hands of the administration. If it does not lead to despotism by sudden violence, it prepares men for it more gently by their habits. All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and the shortest means to accomplish it. This is the first axiom of the science.- Alexis de Tocqueville

Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent (Iraq and Afghanistan), other chieftains (Russia and China) will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue. - Sun Tzu

1. The United States should not commit its forces to military action
overseas unless the cause is vital to our national interest.
2. If the decision is made to commit our forces to combat abroad, it must be
done with the clear intent and support needed to win. It should not be a
halfway or tentative commitment, and there must be clearly defined and
realistic objectives.
3. Before we commit our troops to combat, there must be reasonable assurance that the cause we are fighting for and the actions we take will have the support of the American people and Congress.
4. Even after all these other tests are met, our troops should be committed to combat abroad only as a last resort, when no other choice is available.
- Ronald Reagan

But don't listen to any of these men as what did they know? Just let the Republican party become the party of perpetual war and the Chamber of Commerce crony capitalists and thier lobbyists.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
"There is truth in all sides. As Daniel Pipes put it, U.S. intentions were over-ambitious, and it was “George W. Bush [who] made the commitment to remake Iraq and … signed the ‘Status of Forces Agreement’ in 2008 that terminated the American military presence in Iraq at the close of 2011. For the Republican Party to progress in foreign policy, it must acknowledge these errors and learn from them, not avoid them by heaping blame on Obama.”"

Yes, let us all completely ignore all the HATE that was poured on Bush, and blame the GOP for this mess in Iraq. Obama had nothing to do with it. He did his best to clean up the mess, but it was just too much.

19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
I no longer remember the reason for invading Iraq. I know that it had to do with WMDs, and I know that Hussein (oh, how wonderful the simplicity of the name: no “Barack” ahead of it, and no “Obama” to be pronounced after it) did support some jihadist groups, but why did we go in again? We have satellite pictures to today of the WMDs being transported out by Russians prior to our invasion, so I know we (or our leaders) knew about it at the time, yet invaded anyway. So why did we do it, again? I remember building anger in the headlines whipping up public anti-Hussein indignation about something at the time, but I don’t remember what the indignation was about.

I doubt that anyone thought that Iraq could be transformed into a modern western free-market intellectually-diverse society of mini-skirted muslims parading in praise of Israel and the rest of the West, so what did the US expect to achieve?

And the US seemed content enough to over-fly northern Iraq and occasionally dodge a pot-shotted ground-to-air missile.

I do remember that after the fact, opponents defined US involvement as a criminal deception justifying destroying WMDs that did not exist.

The questions remain:
1- So why did we go in after the WMDs were taken out?
2- Why didn't Bush or his administration say WHY they didn't find any?
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
The headline poses two very simply answered questions. Who is responsible? Bush, Hillary Clinton, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Kerry, and all the Iraq warhawks. What can be done? Not a thing. Iraq needs to partition along natural lines, we can help it happen constructively or let let it happen willy-nilly...

The gates of hell were opened by Bush I andI II, Iraq suffers. Good luck Obama.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
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