Obama-End-Iraq

Obama’s War

603935_10151250061666749_609734208_nOur Commander-in-Chief is belatedly learning a lesson that every infantryman knows his first year. You don’t “end” wars; you win them or you lose them.

Thanks to our valiant armed forces and the Petraeus/Bush surge, we defeated the militants in Iraq and were ready for a gradual, organized hand-off to the newly elected civilian government.

But President Obama, through political calculation or diplomatic ineptness, failed to secure a simple Status of Forces Agreement with Prime Minister Maliki. This led to an abrupt removal of American troops and American influence on the fledgling state. As expected, the Iraq security vacuum was filled soon enough.

Radicals on every side began to assert themselves and ultimately tore apart coalitions the allies painfully built up over years. Obama’s haphazard policy choices have left us with an infighting, Iran-backed political class in Baghdad, an embattled Kurdish minority in the north, and the Islamic State rolling over both.

Last night, Obama decided to drop provisions to starving Yazidis atop Mount Sinjar and appears to be bombing IS positions here and there. Anything to get the image of children dying of thirst off television and social media.

The Obama Doctrine is to ignore problems until they metastasize into vast international crises, then react with an ineffective spasm of concern. In this, the President has been consistent, be it Libya, Egypt, Boko Haram or Ukraine. The truly serious situations get a Twitter hashtag.

It is good that Obama finally has been spurred to action, but most expect his Iraq efforts to be far too little, far too late. A year ago, he backed into a proposal to bomb Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, indirectly assisting the nascent IS army. Yesterday, he backed into a proposal to bomb IS, indirectly assisting Assad and Iran. Note that the Islamic State is the same group Obama mocked months ago as being nothing but a J.V. version of Al Qaeda and unworthy of his attention. A reactionary foreign policy is a rudderless one.

To date, the only American casualty in this new Iraq War is Obama’s naive view of foreign affairs. After eight years of dishonest rhetoric about Bush’s greedy war for oil and empire, Obama now must explain why his air strikes are of a superior morality. And if Obama does achieve military success in Iraq, will progressive Democrats ever forgive him?

  1. John Davey

    Pitch-perfect assessment.

  2. KC Mulville

    The last few months have seen one crisis replace another. Remember the scandals of the IRS, the VA, Syria, Libya, Russia, … yeah, you know, the revolving door Obama problems …

    Makes me wonder what’s going to replace this one.

  3. Albert Arthur

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: The Obama Doctrine is to ignore problems until they metastasize into vast international crises, then react with an ineffective spasm of concern. In this, the President has been consistent, be it Libya, Egypt, Boko Haram or Ukraine. The truly serious situations get a Twitter hashtag.

     Nailed it.

  4. Underground Conservative

    Libs I know always say Bush failed to get the Status of Forces agreement in place. What explains this difference in the story?

  5. C. U. Douglas

    Wow, that’s a dim view, especially when Vox.com tells me that Obama’s “boring foreign policy” is working. I mean, sure they’ve been Obama-shills for the ACA, but they would totally change their tune and be realistic about his foreign policy and whether it’s succeeding.

    Okay, I can’t type that all without laughing.

  6. Last Outpost on the Right

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    And if Obama does achieve military success in Iraq, will progressive Democrats ever forgive him?

    Progressive Democrats, along with all of the other Democrats, will find some way to justify and rationalize their continued support of Obama, no matter what the outcome is.
    As I said on another post, I agree with the tactical decision, given the current circumstances. I just wish the Commander-in-Chief didn’t tell the enemy of our plans … again … before sending our finest into harm’s way.

  7. Aaron Miller

    I’m not sure it’s as simple as that. Thousands of Iraqi soldiers fled rather than fight ISIS very early in the conflict. That doesn’t offer much confidence in our training efforts. Whether or not they could have won those battles without us, that they wouldn’t even try is disappointing. 

    And how much did we demand of this government we arranged? Was our presence positively influencing Iraqi culture and engendering Western norms of toleration? Or were we pretending that democratic government by itself results in freedom? 

    Also, I don’t think the majority of American voters ever supported a generation-long occupation of Iraq. 

    Modern Western powers have a peculiar challenge. On the one hand, we demand that an action like toppling Saddam Hussein be followed by the establishment of a free society. On the other hand, we abhor the notion of conquest. I don’t think these positions are reconcilable.

  8. DrewInWisconsin

    C. U. Douglas:

    Wow, that’s a dim view, especially when Vox.com tells me that Obama’s “boring foreign policy” is working.

    Picking on Vox is starting to feel like puppy kicking. But in this case, the puppies are disease-infested mongrels who need to be put down, so . . . whatever.   :::   KICK!!!  :::

    The history of Vox is the history of very public face-plants. The Washington Post must have known that little Ezra wasn’t ready to toddle around on his own yet. Couldn’t someone have held his hand a bit longer? This is getting embarrassing.

  9. Stad

    The sign should read “President Obama ended the WIN in Iraq.”

  10. TG

    Underground Conservative:

    Libs I know always say Bush failed to get the Status of Forces agreement in place. What explains this difference in the story?

     

    On 1 Dec 2008, the Iraqi Parliament passed a SOFA with terms including removal of all US forces from Iraq no later than 31 Dec 2011. 

    http://usmilitary.about.com/od/terrorism/a/iraqsofa.htm

    Obama had some time in which to (perhaps) negotiate a new SOFA.  That didn’t happen.

    The “difference” may be characterized as you choose …

  11. TG

    TG:

    Underground Conservative:

    Libs I know always say Bush failed to get the Status of Forces agreement in place. What explains this difference in the story?

     

    On 1 Dec 2008, the Iraqi Parliament passed a SOFA with terms including removal of all US forces from Iraq no later than 31 Dec 2011.

    http://usmilitary.about.com/od/terrorism/a/iraqsofa.htm

    Obama had some time in which to (perhaps) negotiate a new SOFA. That didn’t happen.

    The “difference” may be characterized as you choose …

     

    Correction:  The article about the SOFA was updated on 1 Dec 2008.  I haven’t yet found the date on which the Iraqi Parliament passed the SOFA (but it had to have been then or earlier).

  12. Eeyore

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: The truly serious situations get a Twitter hashtag.

    Well played, sir.
    Jen Psaki, where are you – we need you now!!!

  13. SPare

    This guy doesn’t have a foreign policy, as that might imply an active role.  He is utterly passive , then reactive, and his reactive instincts bear all the depth of a stoned Berkeley sophomore.

  14. La Tapada

    Aaron Miller:

    …Thousands of Iraqi soldiers fled rather than fight ISIS very early in the conflict. … 

    I read somewhere that Maliki had replaced the original Iraqi commanders with political appointees. Might the Iraqi army have stood up to ISIS longer if it had been led by more capable commanders?

  15. Kozak

    Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 7.26.32 PM
    There, fixed it for you…

  16. Kozak

    Underground Conservative:

    Libs I know always say Bush failed to get the Status of Forces agreement in place. What explains this difference in the story?

    We did have a status of forces agreement. It just didn’t run till the end of Obama’s Presidency.  Bush didn’t think it was right to handcuff the new POTUS with a long SOFA.  Imagine the howls from the Left if Bush HAD done that….

  17. iDad

    Underground Conservative:

    Libs I know always say Bush failed to get the Status of Forces agreement in place. What explains this difference in the story?

    A few questions: 

    1.   Did the Bush Administration consult with the incoming Obama Administration re: the SOFA?  
     
    2.   Did Obama ever express any objection to the withdrawal date?

    3.  I  have read and heard numerous times that Obama had an opportunity during the three years between taking office and the SOFA deadline to negotiate an extension of the withdrawal date.  True or not?

  18. flownover

    Anyone going to bother checking out the new Rules of Engagement this time around ? 
    Are there munitions in the bombs or hashtags ? Can they only bomb if the armaments identified are genuine American manufacture ? 
    This is sorely needed , but we are watching a pacifist command fighter pilots and shouldn’t expect much. Pray for the Yazidi, the Kurds, the Chaldeans, and the people who are being brutalized by these animals.

    some suggestions
    -drop some Ebola victims on ISIS
    -tell Putin they’re Ukrainian

  19. TG

    iDad:

    Underground Conservative:

    Libs I know always say Bush failed to get the Status of Forces agreement in place. What explains this difference in the story?

    A few questions:

    1. Did the Bush Administration consult with the incoming Obama Administration re: the SOFA? 2. Did Obama ever express any objection to the withdrawal date?

    3. I have read and heard numerous times that Obama had an opportunity during the three years between taking office and the SOFA deadline to negotiate an extension of the withdrawal date. True or not?

     Regarding #3:  is there any way in which Obama could have been *prevented* from attempting to negotiate changes?  I say “no.”  Not saying that success would be automatic, just that there was nothing preventing the Obama administration from trying.

  20. Old Bathos

    Mr. Obama and his associates seem oblivious to the scope and scale of their incompetence. Contrast that with the open self-examination and search for change that possessed the pre-surge Bush Administration. Events have dared to disappoint Obama who is somehow yet still possessed of secret greatness known only to MSNBC faithful.

     

    The failure to achieve a SOFA, the refusal to deal with Maliki’s betrayal of both the rule of law and the need for inclusion for Sunnis, the slow, passive response to everything and anything and the deployment of a complete buffoon (Joe Biden) as point man wasted the years of sacrifice by American soldiers and democracy-loving Iraqis.

     

    The fantasy of being morally and intellectually superior to Bush held by a man not possessed of the requisite character and judgment for the office apparently dies hard. That kind of change and humility only takes place in people of character of whom there appear to be damn few in this Administration. Certainly the self-absorbed twit we elected President is not such a man.

     

    We are watching a world order built and sustained by the last seven Presidents being pissed away by a singularly useless man.

     

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