Max Boot on “A Hollow Victory in Tikrit:”
There are reports that Iraqi forces have retaken much of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Pictures of jubilant Iraqi soldiers are appearing on the Internet. It remains to be seen whether these celebrations are premature or not; certainly Iraqi forces have a history of claiming victories over ISIS that soon unravel.
But even if this “victory” stands up, our jubilation should be tightly controlled. Yes, it’s a good thing if ISIS is suffering defeats, but who’s winning? It’s not the United States and it’s not the lawful Iraqi state led by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi. The real victor here, if there is a victory, is Iran. Most of the fighters who are taking Tikrit are Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen, not soldiers of Iraq. The real leader of this operation is not any general appointed by Prime Minister Abadi but rather Qassem Suleimani, head of the Iranian Quds Force, who has been a high-profile presence on the front lines.
And this is not an isolated occurrence. With Iran and its proxies taking the lead in fighting ISIS, there is a real danger that U.S. support for the anti-ISIS drive will wind up delivering Iraq into the hands of Iran. This is, of course, the danger that many opponents of the Iraq War warned about, but it was a danger kept in check as long as there was a substantial U.S. troop presence in Iraq. The U.S. departure at the end of 2011, however, opened the floodgates for Iranian influence.
Speaking of Iran, elsewhere at Commentary, Jordan Chandler Hirsch explains “How America Bamboozled Itself About Iran:”
If a nuclear deal is imminent, that is largely because over the past 13 years of on-and-off negotiations, the great powers of the world have slowly but surely given in to Iran’s demands. As Iran has flouted United Nations resolutions demanding a halt to its program, those nations have steadily softened their terms. Instead of ending the threat of Iranian nuclearization, negotiators have apparently limited their ambitions to an attempt to regulate it—an idea that, given the record of Iran’s lack of even rudimentary compliance with international law, is wishful thinking.
How did we get here? In speaking with nearly 30 experts and veterans of both the Bush and Obama administrations, I’ve found one core factor at the heart of this outcome: the desire to avoid military engagement with Iran at all costs—and, particularly during the Obama administration, the fear of even threatening it. Without a credible threat to use force, the United States has relied on tools that alone could never have compelled the Islamic Republic of Iran to abandon its nuclear program.
Convinced that the United States would not attack, Iran has largely dictated the terms. The history of negotiating with Iran suggests that no matter the result of the next round of diplomacy—full agreement, another extension, or collapse—the Iran talks have failed.
And finally, here’s Sen. Tom Cotton ably holding his own against the repeated badgerings of MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, whose father Zbigniew worked under Jimmy Carter. As Jay Nordlinger wrote in his classic “Carterpalooza piece at NRO in 2002, “For years, Carter has been a thorn in the side of presidents, acting as a kind of ‘anti-president,'” particularly if the real president was from the opposite party. And note how Mika, the author of Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth, is essentially siding with the mullahs, who aren’t exactly known for their views on gender equality.
Fancy that from a lefty.
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But then the Senate versus Obama — and vice versa — is “A War of Obama’s Making,” as Byron York writes at the Washington Free Beacon.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) March 10, 2015
I’m getting old; I remember the good old days when history for Democrats began in November of 2000:
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