Saturday, June 14, 2014

Iraq and ISIS: It's All Our Fault

President Obama's naivete on the foreign policy front is showing with the deteriorating situation in Iraq. He campaigned on promises to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it appears the administration wasn't actually serious about ending the wars, just pulling out completely. This blind obedience to domestic politics endangers America's world standing and emboldens our enemies.
The President campaigned hard on ending our two costly wars abroad, appealing to the moderate base that was tired of 10+ years of war, casualties, and frivolous defense spending during a recession. Unlike most politicians, he did live up to his promise - a complete pullout of Iraq and an impending pullout of Afghanistan. However, the war didn't end just because we left; the administration dropped track on Iraq and the Middle East in general, allowing terrorist groups to grow in strength, the Iraqi government, intelligence, and military structure crumble. Iraq is now backsliding into chaos, and it's all our fault.
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) began as Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in the early days of the Iraq War. During the Syrian conflict, they transformed themselves into an insurgent group attempting to overthrow the Assad regime. Now they're back in Iraq, taking full advantage of the weak security situation and attempting to overtake Iraq to establish their medieval Islamic caliphate.
How did we get here? The end of the Iraq War wasn't an ending; it was a pullout and abandonment. All U.S. forces returned home, leaving behind a few thousand workers at the U.S. Embassy and scattered throughout the country. The U.S. intelligence apparatus that was so adept at running cells and infiltrating insurgent groups during the war, disappeared. The U.S. government helped install a hardline Shia President, who has alienated the Sunni minority and installed his cronies in the police force and military instead of well-trained professionals.
As a result, there is no intelligence apparatus to provide early warning of an attack or infiltrate the moderate and radical Sunni villages. The military was poorly trained, and have dropped their weapons and retreated in the face of an attack. ISIS has overtaken Mosul and is quickly heading south towards Baghdad. There's no reason to think they will not succeed.
Thank goodness the Obama Administration made an Iraq pullout such a priority. There are no more U.S. casualties, but Iraq has slid into a chaotic civil war, and its Shia government is now backed by Iran. Domestic politics and voter attitudes shouldn't shape foreign policy. True foreign policy professionals need to make real and hard recommendations to the President that override the desires of the domestic political operatives who are only interested in votes. The outcome in Iraq remains to be seen; and stand by for a repeat in Afghanistan. There's no reason to think it won't happen there as well.

Follow me on Twitter @ClearedHotBlog. 

No comments:

Post a Comment