Krauthammer on President Obama’s strategic blunders in the Middle East:
Obama has thus been forced back into the very vacuum he created — but at a distinct disadvantage. We are now scrambling to put together some kind of presence in Jordan as a defensive counterweight to the Iran-Hezbollah-Russia bloc.
The tragedy is that we once had a counterweight and Obama threw it away. Obama still thinks the total evacuation of Iraq is a foreign policy triumph. In fact, his inability — unwillingness? — to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement that would have left behind a small but powerful residual force in Iraq is precisely what compels him today to re-create in Jordan a pale facsimile of that regional presence.
Whatever the wisdom of the Iraq war in the first place, when Obama came to office in January 2009 the war was won. Al-Qaeda in Iraq had been routed. Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite government had taken down the Sadr Shiite extremists from Basra all the way north to Baghdad. Casualties were at a wartime low; the civil war essentially over.
We had a golden opportunity to reap the rewards of this too-bloody war by establishing a strategic relationship with an Iraq that was still under American sway. Iraqi airspace, for example, was under U.S. control as we prepared to advise and rebuild Iraq’s nonexistent air force.
With our evacuation, however, Iraqi airspace today effectively belongs to Iran — over which it is flying weapons, troops and advisers to turn the tide in Syria. The U.S. air bases, the vast military equipment, the intelligence sources available in Iraq were all abandoned. Gratis. Now we’re trying to hold the line in Jordan.
I’m not sure where Krauthammer stands on forceful intervention in Syria, but I suspect he’s much more hawkish than I am. The chaos there serves us just fine. A Russo-Iranian client state does not.
The Sunni states may have to realign towards towards Russia to protect themselves from the Damascus-Baghdad-Tehran Axis, while the North African Arab states continue their devolution into chaos and extremism. It would be, as it always is in the Middle East, a complicated game of Moscow trying to manage two competing sets of frenemies, while we diddle around in… Jordan, really? That’s our big strategic interest?
I fear for Israel in this scenario.