Decisions and Consequences in Iraq

 

Following the apparent capture of Mosul, rumor has it that the Iraqi government is quietly asking for American air support against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Rumor further has it that President Obama has denied this request.

I don’t know what we should do about Iraq’s apparent slide into al-Qaeda-dominated anarchy (I lean toward doing nothing, but am open to persuasion). In their different ways, all the options seem terrible, be they leaving the Iraqis to their fate or re-involving ourselves in their country. There’s likely no good solution, only a series of bad ones, some of which may be marginally less awful than others.

One point, though, warrants repeating: while America and its allies bear ultimate responsibility for the decision to leave Iraq, it’s not as if we did so under protest. For all the talk of American imperialism and British and Australian toadying, we left as promised — more or less on schedule — leaving the Iraqis free to make their own way in the world. What dissenting voices there were at the time were drowned out by sighs of relief.

Well, the world wanted us out and — albeit for our own reasons — we left. Now, the world is seeing the consequences.

Regardless of what the United States and its allies do (or don’t do) in response to the current crisis, all nations should learn from their previous experience in this matter. If we determine it is in our interest to join the fight, we should demand public and explicit entreaties from the Iraqis as the cost of doing business; no accusations of imperialist cowboys this time. If we determine it’s not in our interests, we should say so with regret for leaving for political expediency, while reminding the world that this is what they wanted and that they might recall it next time.

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  1. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    This whole situation is typical of this administration and I think they definitely shoulder a lot of the blame.  As usual, they wait until the whole situation descends into chaos and then throw up their hands that there is nothing we can do and run around assuring everyone there will be no BOTG (Boots on the Ground)  I’m sorry but in my opinion they cause these a lot of this both directly through a lack of a national global strategy (I don’t count leading from behind) and a general weakening of the U.S.’s strength throughout the world.  Instead of negotiating a SOFA agreement to ensure a lasting victory and a huge sphere of influence in that region, Biden bragged he told the President “thanks for giving me the chance to end this GD war.”  Lest we forget, Biden has pretty much been wrong about every foreign policy position he has opened his stupid mouth about.”  The fact is they wanted out of “Bush’s war” no matter what and willingly abandoned all our hard earned successes there.

    • #61
  2. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    There is one — and only one — reason intervention in Iraq is a choice in 2014 rather than a necessity.  Fracking.  

    We are now almost entirely energy independent, so need no oil from the Middle East, Russia, or dodgy South American dictatorships (I am looking at you, Valenzuela).  It at least cushions us from the greatest effects of the folly of Obama-era diplomacy.  Yes, we will likely throw that advantage away.  (This is made more likely because it does cushion us from reality, and allows the cloud-cuckoo-land in Washington to continue unaffected.) Still we still have a little time.

    Cities across the United States should be erecting statues to George Mitchell.  They won’t.  They will raise as many for Mitchell as they did for Norm Borlaug.

    Seawriter

    • #62
  3. The Mugwump Inactive
    The Mugwump
    @TheMugwump

    It’s probably a good time to ask what conditions must be necessary before America should attempt to export democracy to other nations.  Why do the Kurds apparently “get it” but the Arabs not?  We could also ask in a wider context why the Japanese were able to make the transition to democracy while the Russians continue to fail?  I am not aware of any treatise, political, philosophical, or otherwise, that lays out the preconditions for a successful representative government.  There is a cultural component somewhere in the answer, but I’m not sure where. 

    I think current conditions in Iraq vindicate the “more rubble, less trouble” attitude toward the Middle East.  Nation building is an expensive business, and apparently in some places also a high risk strategy with little hope for an adequate return on the investment.  If Iraq is lost to the forces of barbarism, we need to ask some tough questions.  Are all peoples ready for democracy?  Is democracy a truly universal aspiration?  I’m not concerned with who’s at fault in the current situation.  The times call for self-reflection, and we have much to think about.

    • #63
  4. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:

    And I used to be good at geography. But I found a map.

    Wrt the Kurdish controlled area (including now…Kirkuk?) – do you think they’ll willingly give up what independence they’ve wangled so far, or do you think they’ll try and go the other way with Turkey’s connivance? They seem to be doing relatively better on their own (less violence, more economic growth) than the rest of Iraq, which is a great motivator for more separation.

     I think life is good for the KRG, which enjoys roughly the quality of life metrics of a somewhat backward Eastern European country (ie, pretty good), but that most Kurds live outside it. It’s the Kurds in the rest of Iraq that provide a lot of the motivation for the KRG to remain a semi-autonomous entity. That, and they’re in a pretty crazy area. The Iraqi government gives them some protection against Turkish and Iranian incursions, which is not unimportant. 

    Again, we’ve just had elections, and even the Kurdish parties in the KRG weren’t making much of a fuss about independence (which they did somewhat in earlier days). Iraqi incompetent disasters aside, they’ll probably remain where they are. 

    • #64
  5. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Seawriter:

    We are now almost entirely energy independent, so need no oil from the Middle East, Russia, or dodgy South American dictatorships

    What are you going to do, just trade with yourselves?  Like it or not America’s major trade partners are dependant on oil from these places, and what happens to their economies will affect the US economy.  We are all interdependent, what drags one down affects the rest of us as well.

    • #65
  6. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    James Of England:

    Zafar:

    I think life is good for the KRG, which enjoys roughly the quality of life metrics of a somewhat backward Eastern European country (ie, pretty good), but that most Kurds live outside it. It’s the Kurds in the rest of Iraq that provide a lot of the motivation for the KRG to remain a semi-autonomous entity. That, and they’re in a pretty crazy area. The Iraqi government gives them some protection against Turkish and Iranian incursions, which is not unimportant.

    James – you’re a mine(field) of information.  I had no idea that most Iraqi Kurds lived outside the KRG – is the situation similar to Turkey where Istanbul doubles as the largest Turkish  city in the world as well as the largest Kurdish city in the world?

    Re Iraq protecting them from Turkey/Iran – that’s s not looking so credible after the past few days.  Do you think that might have changed the equation somewhat?

    • #66
  7. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Mendel, the major issue (for me) is not whether we should have left Iraq; the issue is how. Nobody wanted to stay in Iraq for ever; we always wanted to get out as soon as it was practical.

    The frustration is that the Obama repudiation of the Bush policy in Iraq also wound up being a repudiation of the post-war promises America made to Iraq. Having wiped out the major part of their military, we had committed to rebuilding their security, and the transition was supposed to be conditioned on Iraq building a military that could defend the country. By declaring a definite date for withdrawal, regardless of the state of security, Obama demolished the promise that we wouldn’t leave until Iraq was able to defend itself. That triggered a series of “Well if they’re not going to do X, why should I bother trying to do Z?” and the whole thing fell apart. 

    • #67
  8. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Zafar: What are you going to do, just trade with yourselves?  Like it or not America’s major trade partners are dependant on oil from these places, and what happens to their economies will affect the US economy.  We are all interdependent, what drags one down affects the rest of us as well.

     You are missing my point (and seemed to miss what I said in the rest of the paragraph).    All energy independence does is cushion the US.  The most important thing it yields is time to react.

    Had Saddam Hussein’s capture of Kuwait gone unchallenged in 1990, the result would have been immediately catastrophic. Similarly had the United States projected a Clintonian (or Obaman) image of impotence after 9-11 the result would have been immediately catastrophic.  For all the complaints about Bush’s policies, because of them the world was safer in 2008 than it had been in 2000 (or 2014). 

    Unlike then, today energy independence gives us time to dig ourselves out of this hole.

    For that matter Europe,  China, and India could achieve energy independence through fracking – if they try. The economic ball is in their court as well as ours.

    Seawriter

    • #68
  9. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar: James – you’re a mine(field) of information.  I had no idea that most Iraqi Kurds lived outside the KRG – is the situation similar to Turkey where Istanbul doubles as the largest Turkish  city in the world as well as the largest Kurdish city in the world? 

     I apologize for being unclear. The KRG is home to less than 20% of the world’s Kurds, but the rest of Iraq holds even fewer. The large numbers of Kurds in Baghdad are one of the bigger pulls on KRG policy, but it is only the 4th largest Kurdish city. 

    Zafar: Re Iraq protecting them from Turkey/Iran – that’s s not looking so credible after the past few days.  Do you think that might have changed the equation somewhat?

     If the Iraqi government falls, then obviously everything changes. If the Iraqi government repels the invasion (including with American help), then the argument is strengthened. If something else happens, it’s less easy to tell how things will go. There were ~50k  Kurds in Mosul and there have been Kurds fighting to repel the invasion.  That sort of experience is often powerfully bonding.  To declare a bias, the army unit that used to protect me in Baghdad was mostly Kurdish and is going out to fight ISIS, and one often overestimates the impact of things with emotional significance. 

    • #69
  10. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    Bush handed a hard-won victory in Iraq to Obama and Obama frittered it away.  This could all have been avoided with an intelligent SOFA.  It probably could have been avoided if Obama had helped the Iraqi government with air strikes when asked.  But no, instead Obama has spit on the graves of our fallen and wasted their blood and our treasure. 

    Obama will probably do nothing, but we better at least do air strikes.  We are a laughing stock and the world’s bad actors are only going to get more restless.  The butcher’s bill that is being prepared for us to pay from Obama’s incompetence is going to be huge.  I don’t want to hear complaints or surprise when it is shoved in our faces.  Obama left a void and the bad guys are filling it.  
     
    There is no greater shame than wasting the blood of the noble.  Obama did that.

    • #70
  11. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    No Caesar:

    Bush handed a hard-won victory in Iraq to Obama and Obama frittered it away. This could all have been avoided with an intelligent SOFA. It probably could have been avoided if Obama had helped the Iraqi government with air strikes when asked. But no, instead Obama has spit on the graves of our fallen and wasted their blood and our treasure.

    Obama will probably do nothing, but we better at least do air strikes. We are a laughing stock and the world’s bad actors are only going to get more restless. The butcher’s bill that is being prepared for us to pay from Obama’s incompetence is going to be huge. I don’t want to hear complaints or surprise when it is shoved in our faces. Obama left a void and the bad guys are filling it. There is no greater shame than wasting the blood of the noble. Obama did that.

    We’re weak as enemies and worse as allies. Americans aren’t the only ones who needlessly fought evil. Now many more will die by it. Obama did that.

    • #71
  12. FloppyDisk90 Member
    FloppyDisk90
    @FloppyDisk90

    No Caesar: There is no greater shame than wasting the blood of the noble.

     I agree.  It would be a supreme act of wastrel negligence to shed one more drop of American blood on a country that asked as to leave and spent 10+ years doing its best to maim and kill brave soldiers who were attempting to impose order on a pre-civilized tribal, sectarian mess of a “society.”

    • #72
  13. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    No Caesar:

    Bush handed a hard-won victory in Iraq to Obama and Obama frittered it away. This could all have been avoided with an intelligent SOFA. It probably could have been avoided if Obama had helped the Iraqi government with air strikes when asked. But no, instead Obama has spit on the graves of our fallen and wasted their blood and our treasure.

    No, the Maliki government frittered it away.   Obama is incompetent and just plain wrong in his views on most everything but not everything is his fault.  US forces were going to leave at some point and once that happened the government would have to stand on its own and in these decrepit and fractured countries stability is a pipedream that can only be achieved by techniques which we would find reprehensible.

    So, we could do some air strikes and then what?  If unsuccessful, do we do more?  If successful, the Maliki government, which is closely associated with Iran,  goes back to its ways and in a couple of more years we have the same situation arise again.  Do we just repeat the cycle again?

    • #73
  14. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    Mark:

    No Caesar:

    Bush handed a hard-won victory in Iraq to Obama and Obama frittered it away. This could all have been avoided with an intelligent SOFA. It probably could have been avoided if Obama had helped the Iraqi government with air strikes when asked. But no, instead Obama has spit on the graves of our fallen and wasted their blood and our treasure.

     

    No, the Maliki government frittered it away. Obama is incompetent and just plain wrong in his views on most everything but not everything is his fault. US forces were going to leave at some point and once that happened the government would have to stand on its own and in these decrepit and fractured countries stability is a pipedream that can only be achieved by techniques which we would find reprehensible.

    So, we could do some air strikes and then what? If unsuccessful, do we do more? If successful, the Maliki government, which is closely associated with Iran, goes back to its ways and in a couple of more years we have the same situation arise again. Do we just repeat the cycle again?

     If Obama had signed the SOFA that was envisioned at the end of Bush’s term, it would have been a smaller version of our forces in South Korea.  That has been very effective.  The situation is not resolved, but South Korea is stable and a first world country. 

    What too many fail to understand is that the world rarely presents good and bad choices.  Usually the choices are bad, less bad, God-awful, and catastrophic.  Obama chose the latter.

    • #74
  15. FloppyDisk90 Member
    FloppyDisk90
    @FloppyDisk90

    No Caesar:  If Obama had signed the SOFA that was envisioned at the end of Bush’s term, it would have been a smaller version of our forces in South Korea.  That has been very effective.  The situation is not resolved, but South Korea is stable and a first world country. 

     South Koreans are not tribal or Islamic.  South Koreans don’t engage in, or support those that do, insurgent activities against US forces.  South Korea was a stable, constitutional republic prior to it’s invasion by N. Korea.  Our presence there was successful because it’s mission was clear and limited:  serve as a tripwire force against further N. Korean aggression.

    • #75
  16. billy Inactive
    billy
    @billy

    FloppyDisk90:

    No Caesar: If Obama had signed the SOFA that was envisioned at the end of Bush’s term, it would have been a smaller version of our forces in South Korea. That has been very effective. The situation is not resolved, but South Korea is stable and a first world country.

    South Koreans are not tribal or Islamic. South Koreans don’t engage in, or support those that do, insurgent activities against US forces. South Korea was a stable, constitutional republic prior to it’s invasion by N. Korea. Our presence there was successful because it’s mission was clear and limited: serve as a tripwire force against further N. Korean aggression.

     Umm…

    • #76
  17. FloppyDisk90 Member
    FloppyDisk90
    @FloppyDisk90

    billy:

    FloppyDisk90:

    No Caesar: If Obama had signed the SOFA that was envisioned at the end of Bush’s term, it would have been a smaller version of our forces in South Korea. That has been very effective. The situation is not resolved, but South Korea is stable and a first world country.

    South Koreans are not tribal or Islamic. South Koreans don’t engage in, or support those that do, insurgent activities against US forces. South Korea was a stable, constitutional republic prior to it’s invasion by N. Korea. Our presence there was successful because it’s mission was clear and limited: serve as a tripwire force against further N. Korean aggression.

    Umm…

     I am in error on this point.  True.  It was indeed a constitutional republic by 1948 but “stable” is not an appropriate adjective.

    • #77
  18. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    FloppyDisk90:  South Korea was a stable, constitutional republic prior to it’s invasion by N. Korea.  

     No it wasn’t.  Korea had been owned by the Japanese up until late 1945.  By 1950 it had a typical third world-style  democracy (one man, one vote, one time), and the president at the time (Syngman Rhee) was less popular than Maliki is today in Iraq.  It effectively remained a dictatorship until the late  1980s.  

    Although it is a stable, constitutional republic today, it took forty-odd years after the United States placed troops in Korea to achieve that status and it would not exist as such today if the United States pulled its troops in 1960, much less four years after the Korean War ended.

    Seawriter

    • #78
  19. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    FloppyDisk90:

    No Caesar: If Obama had signed the SOFA that was envisioned at the end of Bush’s term, it would have been a smaller version of our forces in South Korea. That has been very effective. The situation is not resolved, but South Korea is stable and a first world country.

    South Koreans are not tribal or Islamic. South Koreans don’t engage in, or support those that do, insurgent activities against US forces. South Korea was a stable, constitutional republic prior to it’s invasion by N. Korea. Our presence there was successful because it’s mission was clear and limited: serve as a tripwire force against further N. Korean aggression.

    I will just add to Seawriter to say, a trip-wire is another form of diplomacy.  If you are a credible threat to bad guys (and we were at the end of Bush’s term), then a trip wire does a lot to limit the actions of bad guys, giving the fledgling country the chance to get things right.  The original SOFA was that, a trip-wire.  But the fools and idiots of the Obama administration were/are too blinkered to understand the utility of that. 

    • #79
  20. Karen Inactive
    Karen
    @Karen

    All this seems a day late and dollar short. If air support is/was needed, it would probably be big guys like the B-2’s and such in Guam. Most of those have a 10,000 mile range, so it’s not a matter of what assets are presently near Iraq. And it seems like those big guys would’ve been most useful and effective before these cities were taken. Now, you have more urban combat situations, and you can’t fight those without boots on the ground. I think this is what the Iranian Revolutionary Guard will do. Whatever should be done, it should’ve been done last week. AQ thinks ISIS is ruthless, which is something. If Obama does get involved, the atrocities and barbarism that will go on will be part of his legacy. If he lets them slaughter, brutalize and rape for the next couple of years, when he’s running the UN, he can go over there, shake his head in despair and blame Bush for opening the can of worms that is Iraq. He can say he didn’t realize how bad things were until he read it in the paper.

    • #80
  21. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Mendel:

    Blaming Obama for this is ridiculous.

    If ever there was a decision with near unanimous support, it was our withdrawal from Iraq over the last few years. A majority of Americans wanted it (why? because our occupation was a nightmare), many conservatives back in 2008 wanted it (remember all those op eds talking about focusing on the “real war” in Afghanistan?), the elected government in Iraq wanted it, and George Bush signed a SOFA agreeing to it.

    If ever there was a policy I would expect a US president elected in 2008 to observe, it would be withdrawing from Iraq.

     No one (I think no one) is saying the Obama’s solely to blame for what is happening.  I think the change in public opinion – that when the war got tough, we gave up rather than fixing our errors – was fatal.  That’s why we have Obama in the first place.

    Obama’s errors are (1) his failure to get an agreement for a residual presence and (2) generally squandering his credibility that there are consequences for bad actors on the international stage.  Even if Obama wants to do something now, he’s in a poor position.

    • #81
  22. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    The Mugwump: Why do the Kurds apparently “get it” but the Arabs not?  

     That’s a good question. I’m not sure the Kurds “get it” more so than the Arabs (after all they had their own decade-long civil war), but they managed to get stability and economic growth which has eluded many in the Arab world. I’d say this was for 2 reasons:

    1) They did not identify with religion or tribe, but were forced to identify on nationalistic grounds. I.e., the managed to create a mini-Turkey.
    2) Large Kurdish diaspora which came back or invested in Kurdistan. They had more exposure to “Western” (as well as Turkish) models.

    Other than stability and economic growth, there is not much to be hoped for in that part of the world. 

    The conflict in Iraq (as in Syria or Lebanon) is sectarian in nature. The Kurds aren’t part of that conflict. 

    • #82
  23. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    Mendel:

    Blaming Obama for this is ridiculous.

    If ever there was a decision with near unanimous support, it was our withdrawal from Iraq over the last few years. A majority of Americans wanted it (why? because our occupation was a nightmare), many conservatives back in 2008 wanted it ….., the elected government in Iraq wanted it, and George Bush signed a SOFA agreeing to it.

    …..

    No one (I think no one) is saying the Obama’s solely to blame for what is happening. …..

    ……

     That change in public opinion didn’t happen spontaneously in a vacuum either. If the Democrats (Obama has a big hand in this) had remained sober instead of using the issue as a political weapon then public opinion might not have changed the way it did or as much as it did.

    Also, regarding this war being nightmarish: is that really true? Of course war generally can probably only be described in those terms, but in relative terms it seems to me that this war was exceptionally sensitive to the interests of the civilian populace and not nearly as costly to our forces as war typically is.

    • #83
  24. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    No one (I think no one) is saying the Obama’s solely to blame for what is happening. I think the change in public opinion – that when the war got tough, we gave up rather than fixing our errors – was fatal. 

    Obama’s errors are (1) his failure to get an agreement for a residual presence and (2) generally squandering his credibility that there are consequences for bad actors on the international stage. Even if Obama wants to do something now, he’s in a poor position.

     Certainly Obama has done nothing to improve matters.

    But I still think this current resurgency would have been inevitable. Even if Obama had signed a different SOFA with some retained military presence in the country, eventually the American public would lose its patience with having our soldiers being put in harm’s way – and dying – in Iraq. 

    Perhaps it might have been five years hence. But that doesn’t particularly matter, because the insurgents and sectarian leaders will wait as long as it takes.

    • #84
  25. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Ed G.:

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    Mendel:

    That change in public opinion didn’t happen spontaneously in a vacuum either. If the Democrats (Obama has a big hand in this) had remained sober instead of using the issue as a political weapon then public opinion might not have changed the way it did or as much as it did.

     I am doubtful of this. I would look at it from the other perspective: If the American public knew in 2003 that keeping Iraq stable would require over 4,500 American lives and a sizeable presence in the country for at least a decade, would they have agreed to the war? Highly unlikely, in my opinion.

    Obama didn’t sculpt public opinion on Iraq as much as it sculpted him (since he barely had an opinion on the war before becoming a candidate).

    • #85
  26. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Ed G.:

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    Mendel:

    Also, regarding this war being nightmarish: is that really true? Of course war generally can probably only be described in those terms, but in relative terms it seems to me that this war was exceptionally sensitive to the interests of the civilian populace and not nearly as costly to our forces as war typically is.

     I agree that, compared with past conflicts, the war in Iraq may not have been as brutal. But I think the psychological effects of war are shaped in large part by the context – how much brutality is the public expecting, and how much of it have our soldiers been trained for?

    In retrospect, WWI was also not as brutal as other 20th century conflicts. But the consensus before the war was that it would be an quick and relatively painless conflict, and when this proved to be horribly false, that shock had a profound effect on European societies.

    And I can’t imagine how scary fighting a counter-insurgency would be for soldiers who were told they would be going in to fight a traditional army-to-army war.

    • #86
  27. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    AIG: The conflict in Iraq (as in Syria or Lebanon) is sectarian in nature. The Kurds aren’t part of that conflict. 

    I don’t think that the conflict in Syria is entirely sectarian, or even largely sectarian. Of the three significant factions, one is sectarian, but both the others are multi-confessional groups. The primarily Sunni FSA is at war with the entirely Sunni ISIS/ Nusra/ AQ, and with the partly Sunni (note particularly Hamas’ involvement) Assad forces. The Palestinian fights between the Sunni Hamas and the Sunni Fatah mirror bilaterally exclusively Sunni fights in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Saudi, Yemen and elsewhere. 

    In Iraq, the conflicts between the Shia Maliki and the Shia Sadr were intra-sectarian, as were the conflicts between the Awakening militias and AQ. 

    If it was about sectarian alliance, there’s no reason that the mostly Sunni Kurds would be fighting against the exclusively Sunni ISIS. 

    • #87
  28. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Mendel:

    Ed G.:

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    Mendel:

    Also, regarding this war being nightmarish: is that really true? Of course war generally can probably only be described in those terms, but in relative terms it seems to me that this war was exceptionally sensitive to the interests of the civilian populace and not nearly as costly to our forces as war typically is.

    …..In retrospect, WWI was also not as brutal as other 20th century conflicts. But the consensus before the war was that it would be an quick and relatively painless conflict, and when this proved to be horribly false, that shock had a profound effect on European societies.

    And I can’t imagine how scary fighting a counter-insurgency would be for soldiers who were told they would be going in to fight a traditional army-to-army war.

     I think atrocities matter. The Central Powers atrocities were genuinely worse than those committed by previous belligerent powers against European nations, and we were shocked by genocide and abuse of civilians the next World War, too. 
    Similarly, war is always bad, but ISIS takes to atrocities, including against family members, with an unusual degree of zeal and creativity. They signed up to be shot at and bombed, but this is different. 

    • #88
  29. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Mendel:. Even if Obama had signed a different SOFA with some retained military presence in the country, eventually the American public would lose its patience with having our soldiers being put in harm’s way – and dying – in Iraq.

    Perhaps it might have been five years hence. But that doesn’t particularly matter, because the insurgents and sectarian leaders will wait as long as it takes.

     I offer the following thought and I wonder if you agree.  The American people will tire of any military action (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc) that requires an extended occupation where our soldiers get killed.   Almost any major offensive action will require extended boots on the ground (other than carpet bombing or individually drone targeting every single terrorist in these countries).  Then we will simply be on constant defense and we’ll just have to hope we defeat them by attrition before they defeat us by attrition.  And if it is a matter of years or decades or even centuries, we will give up first.

    • #89
  30. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Mendel: But I still think this current resurgency would have been inevitable. Even if Obama had signed a different SOFA with some retained military presence in the country, eventually the American public would lose its patience with having our soldiers being put in harm’s way – and dying – in Iraq.  Perhaps it might have been five years hence. But that doesn’t particularly matter, because the insurgents and sectarian leaders will wait as long as it takes.

     If Obama had supported the FSA’s efforts to kill ISIS in Syria, there’s no reason to believe that Syria could not have achieved a degree of peace. Under those circumstances, ISIS would have no haven. That’s not to say that bombing and such would cease; you can’t get rid of low level violence. It would mean that efforts like the current invasion would be impossible, though. 
    ISIS aren’t magical; if Obama had responded to Maliki’s requests for air strikes, ISIS might have been defeated in this invasion, which would make subsequent invasions considerably more difficult. Killing and defeating ISIS anywhere impedes their recruitment and success everywhere. 

    Also, Iraq’s economy has been doing amazingly well. In five years time, they’d have had their own air force and such, which is already on the way, but not yet delivered. 

    • #90
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