It’s a situation that didn’t have to be but now seems inevitable. The Obama administration was given a stable Iraq and it seemed the possible would actually happen. However, rooting strategic decision-making in a campaign promise put the fragile gains at risk — and now the “chickens have come home to roost.” Now, some are arguing that Iraq is no more.
As reported by the Washington Examiner:
At a hearing Wednesday focused on the strategy for Iraq, the Pentagon conceded that the hope for a multi-sectarian, unified Iraq is becoming a less likely outcome. More likely, they said, is a three-way split of the country.
“Iraq is fractured,” said House Armed Services Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash. “You can make a pretty powerful argument, in fact, that Iraq is no more.”
Smith said that while new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has pledged support for a multi-sectarian Iraq, the lower-ranking Shiite members who fill out the rest of the government are not committed to that goal. That makes it likely that no matter how many additional U.S. forces are added to recruit Sunnis into the fight, it won’t stick.
“Does [Abadi’s] writ run through Iraq?” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter responded. “That’s what we are waiting to see.”
“How do we offer the Sunnis, you know, a reasonable place to be if they don’t have some support from Baghdad?” Smith asked. “I think we need to start thinking about it.”
It’s rather disconcerting to think that the service, sacrifice and commitment made by so many has just been thrown upon the ash heap of history. The situation has echoes of the abandonment of South Vietnam and the eventual Communist North takeover. And, if this becomes the accepted end state for Iraq, then what becomes a possible outcome in Afghanistan?
Needless to say, ISIS could use this mentality to increase its propaganda and of course drive Sunnis to its welcoming embrace — since there will be no surrender to Shiite rule.
Now, there are those who argue we don’t need to be there. Then why did we not just pack up and leave Germany, Japan or Korea? And, actually, why are we still in the Balkans, when President Bill Clinton said that would only be about a one-year deployment? Contrast those with the precipitous withdrawal from Somalia —we see what it’s become and the horrific implications its export of Islamic jihadism has had for Kenya. National security strategy must be based upon a long vision — not short-term campaign rhetoric. The claim of being elected to “end wars” is irrelevant to the enemy — and we see what happens when a vacuum’s created.
Imagine Egypt, Jordan and Israel’s concerns if a destabilized Iraq becomes a reality. Egypt already has such, thanks to another Obama administration foreign policy failure in Libya. The long-term winner in all of this ends up being Iran, who’ll continue its regional hegemonic dominance, aided by another Obama administration failed foreign policy — its nuclear arming and sanction relief.
Yes, “quagmire” is the best word to describe what the Middle East has become — despite some Obama administration official’s removal of the word from the new Defense Intelligence Agency commanding general’s testimony. Actually, the entire global security situation where America is concerned has horrifically been degraded.
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said the Defense Department considers a future that involves three Iraqs, not one. The nation could be split into a Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite territory, if Iraq’s central government can’t convince Sunnis and Kurds they’ll be an inclusive and protected part of a unified Iraq.
“What if a multi-sectarian Iraq turns out not to be possible?” Carter said. “That is an important part of our strategy now on the ground.
“If that government can’t do what it’s supposed to do, then we will still try to enable local ground forces, if they’re willing to partner with us, to keep stability in Iraq, but there will not be a single state of Iraq,” he added.
One could almost believe that if the SecDef’s making such assertions and statements, then it may just be the Obama administration’s standing rule of the day. So when will the American people learn that Iraq has been abandoned? When will the scene emblazoned in the memory of so many — the last helicopter departing — happen again? America invested much blood and treasure into Iraq, such as our largest embassy — will that space be abandoned as well, or will there be three different U.S. embassies?
“Even as we hear rhetoric from Prime Minister Abadi, the reality is that experts, both who wear the uniform and those who have studied the Middle East for a very long time, all say for practical purposes, you have three regions in Iraq. It’s a fractured country with the Kurds in the north. The Shias have their stronghold in Baghdad, essentially, and you have the Sunni territories largely to the west.”
Smith asked at what point would the U.S. stop trying to force policies on the Iraqi government, if it is unwilling to adopt them.
“So when do we shift that strategy and start building the capabilities of other[s] who will fight?” Smith asked.
A very good question, Rep. Smith — and sadly, we had a trained and integrated Iraqi army who would’ve been willing to fight. Unfortunately, we pulled the rug from under everyone and left no residual force — a small but capable one. So now the Obama administration has been trying to put band aids on the situation with 500 troops here, a 1,000 troops there and another 450 over here — no strategy, no focused command and control and a nebulous mission. We call that mission creep.
We have 18 months to go before the third week of January 2017. It’s not just Iraq that’s been fractured — it’s America as well.