IRAQ IS DISINTEGRATING,
SO WHAT COMES NEXT?
Let’s get it out of the way right up front.
Everybody — all together now — one, two, three:
“It’s Bush’s fault!”
All the human life and national treasure sacrificed for…nothing?
Certainly, it’s fair to ask whether we should have gone into Iraq in the first place. As I wrote in my last post…
“It’s true that Bush got carried away with the idea of bringing democracy to the Middle East. But that was a misjudgment — granted, one based on certain ideological assumptions, but primarily reflecting a misperception about how ready the Middle East was to have democracy.”
Bush “tried to plant democracy in two nations [Iraq and Afghanistan] totally lacking in any preparation for it.”
And, one might add, riven by tribal hatred and religious fanaticism which — at least in the case of Iraq — could only be permanently contained by the most repressive, tyrannical control.
Hate to say it, but good old Saddam may have been onto something.
Which, I guess, is what the late great Pope Saint John Paul II was trying to tell us, if in a diplomatically understated way.
I was as slow as anybody at catching the pope’s drift. After all, democracy seemed like just the thing — a perfect corrective to the Iraqi people’s long suffering. I couldn’t see why JPII wasn’t getting with the program. Apparently “W” couldn’t either.
But then — fair being fair — let’s not forget that Bush did succeed in suppressing the most extreme Iraqi factionalism and encouraging some tentative (and grudging) Sunni-Shiite cooperation by the time he left office. What has happened in the years since?
Now, I must be as fair to “O” as to “W.” So I’ll point out that the Syrian civil war presents a genuine conundrum. Bashar al-Assad is a client of Iran, which doesn’t do us much good. And it’s clear that he has used chemical weapons on his own people.
(If it’s not too great a digression, let us pause to consider that those weapons are likely the very same WMDs which it was said Saddam DIDN’T have. Anyone remember the satellite photos of some very suspicious Russian trucks convoying from Iraq to Syria just before the fall of Baghdad? I think Bush is due an apology on that one — an apology he’s never gotten.)
On the other hand, it wasn’t long before genuine pro-democracy elements in the Syrian rebellion were muscled aside by the most extreme Sunni jihadists. Those jihadists apparently used a few WMDs they got their own hands on, which didn’t do their fellow Syrians much good.
And they have built, trained and indoctrinated a formidable fighting force, now calling itself either ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, depending on which stories you read. Whatever the name, it’s proven itself quite capable of plunging Iraq into chaos and Sharia-inspired horror. Hundreds of decapitated corpses now litter the route of its march toward Baghdad, with photos posted on its website.
So which side in the bloody and inhuman Syrian revolution was Obama to support? He faced a tough call.
Publicly the administration has attempted to tread a middle path, emphasizing non-lethal, humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Syrian people and the more moderate rebel groups. But reports of behind-the-scenes American weapons trafficking keep popping up.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour M. Hersh has offered this as the explanation of what was going on in the mystery-shrouded Benghazi consulate that came under attack.
Just as Obama was blinded by ideology in the VA crisis and the Bergdahl-terrorists swap (see my last post), certain grand assumptions about how we could do business with the radicals — if only we could demonstrate our post-Bush good faith — have unfortunately helped to spur the growth of radicalism and provided the jihadis with an opportunity to take the next step in their planned war of global conquest.
Part of Obama’s good-faith demonstration was the rather precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces, leaving a shaky and corrupt Afghan government to face a reinvigorated Taliban, and an equally shaky and corrupt Iraqi regime now facing national destruction.
President Obama tells us he’s currently weighing all options, refusing to do anything in haste. His only advice to our erstwhile clients in Baghdad is that it’s…
“up to the Iraqis, as a sovereign nation, to solve their problems.”
Well, they’re looking less and less sovereign all the time — not to mention less and less unified. According to reports, the blazing success of ISIS/ISIL is at least partly a consequence of Sunni military commanders intentionally handing over a succession of Iraqi cities to their co-religionists. Iraq stands on the brink of full-scale sectarian war, with Iran generously offering help to its beleaguered Shiite brothers.
Now there’s a conundrum.
Just to demonstrate the persistence of that odd malady known as Bush Derangement Syndrome — chronic among media folk even after six years with Obama’s hand on U.S. policy — CNN has a blog commentary by its national security analyst, Peter Bergen, who calls the current situation in Iraq “Bush’s toxic legacy.” Bergen notes that the pre-Iraq War claim of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda was unproven — which is as may be. But his real crowd-stopper is this…
“Instead of interrupting a budding relationship between [Saddam] Hussein and al Qaeda, the Iraq War precipitated the arrival of al Qaeda into Iraq. Although the Bush administration tended to gloss over the fact, al Qaeda only formally established itself in Iraq a year and a half after the U.S. invasion.”
So now we know “W’s” real sin: precipitating.
If only “O” could precipitate a solution to this new turn in the continuing tragedy of Iraq.
That’s where media attention and pressure are better directed.
We’re hearing talk of possible U.S. air strikes. But with the Iraqi army breaking apart along religious lines and President Obama vowing there will be no more U.S. boots on the ground, what comes after we’ve dropped a bunch of smart bombs and shot off a few drone-borne hellfire missiles? Anybody got some ideas besides “It’s Bush’s Fault”?
“In early 2004, the U.S. military intercepted a letter from [al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-] Zarqawi to bin Laden in which he proposed provoking a civil war between Sunnis and Shia.
“Zarqawi’s strategy was to hit the Shia so they would in turn strike the Sunnis, so precipitating a vicious circle of violence….”
Looks like it was Zarqawi who was doing the precipitating. Check it out at…
“A group of military deserters have painted a devastating picture of the ability of the Iraqi army to stand and fight, telling The Telegraph how entire divisions surrendered Mosul, Iraq’s second city, without firing a single shot.”
Allegedly, some of that surrendering was intentional…