My View: Iraq and the definition of insanity
June 19, 2014
Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, attributed to many including Ben Franklin and Albert Einstein. So, the neocons want us to do a repeat of our involvement in the Iraq war and expect the same results. Yesiree. How do we like that outcome today?
Let's face it: We are and have been involved in a centuries-old Shia v Sunni civil war, whether we intended to do so or not. We had cast our lot with the Shia except when we harnessed a Sunni uprising to win the war against Saddam Hussein. Such religious based conflicts are far beyond our control, but we played the factions off to suit our own single minded determination to find WMD, protect oil interests, or get regime change. Policies set in motion by the Bush administration and the subsequent Obama administration's attempt to extricate ourselves from it have now come to bite U.S. interests in our posterior. The threat of ISIS is worse than Saddam ever was.
If we do not repeat the previous Iraq strategy, what are the alternatives? All bad. Obama is making some tough decisions and whatever he does will be criticized. Leaving ISIS (the advancing Al Qaeda extremists) in position to do us real damage is no option.
Ultra Obama critic Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called Pres. Obama delusional as he himself skirted a call to put boots on the ground. Graham deludes himself. Graham on CNN Sunday a.m. advocated to get involved with Syria, blast ISIS with air power, and get rid of Nurial-Maliki, forcing a new government to be inclusive, as if ISIS already at Baghdad's gate would want to accept a deal while they are ahead.
Iran will likely enter the civil war because there is an opportunity to realize their long-standing desire to dominate the entire Middle East. Graham's solution? Sit down and ask Iran pretty please not to take over Iraq. Give me a break. Iran will do what Iran wants. We have few bargaining chips.
Involvement in Syria? The reason the U.S. did not intervene fully in Syria was precisely fear our aid would land in the hands of ISIS, who had hijacked the opposition to Assad
The danger with air intervention is that ISIS imbeds itself with the local population. One mistake causing civilian collateral damage and we would turn the entire Sunni population against the U.S. forever, destroying our ability to make peace. The unintentional U.S. air strike killing friendly Afghan troops this month should be instructive to the starry eyed. Mistakes will happen.
Short term, there are some steps that make sense: turn Baghdad into a fortress as Iran and the Kurds get involved, pretty please or not. It may be a risk we have to take. Long term, ISIS could overplay its hand, imposing extreme Sharia law on a culture whose traditions are so secular.
The very best outcome could be a long, bloody stalemate, or even a fear of it , that could motivate a political settlement. One was first proposed by then Senator Joseph Biden in 2007: partition the warring groups in a federal system, similar to the Bosnia solution.
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