Central View: Foreign policy? Be careful what you ask for
July 3, 2014
In 2008, U.S. Senator Barack Obama said the war in Iraq was the "bad war" and the war in Afghanistan was the "good" war. Presidential candidate Obama promised he would end our involvement in Iraq. Ironically, Senator Obama voted against the Bush/Petraeus "surge" which, arguably, achieved the war objectives set by Allied coalition forces in 2003 and, thus, ended the U.S. invasion on terms acceptable to the United States.
In fact, as reported by the UK Guardian on Dec. 14, 2011, "Barack Obama marked an end to a war he once described as 'dumb' by declaring the conflict in Iraq a success and saying the last U.S. troops will leave in the coming days with their 'heads held high.' The president told an audience of soldiers at Fort Bragg that the final pullout from Iraq after nearly nine years of war is a 'historic' moment, and that the country they leave behind is an 'extraordinary achievement'."
Today, unfortunately, the Iraq they left behind is under assault by a ruthless, al-Qaeda-led Sunni military force that calls itself the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The stated objective of ISIS is to take control of northern Iraq, incorporate it with a portion of northern Syria and create a new nation-state hostile to the United States, to Israel, and to all non-Sunnis.
Memo to the Obama White House: To be a true nation state, you have to have secure borders and you have to enforce those borders by determining who gets in and who is kept out. Apparently, ISIS understands this. But the Obama Administration does not.
One of the reasons Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Obama used to justify the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq was their mutual failure to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement that would protect U.S. military from being tried in Iraqi courts. Actually, that was just fine with Maliki, a Shia who makes welcoming overtures to his Shiite neighbor, Iran. And fine with Obama, who had long stated his desire to get the U.S. out of Iraq. Both men got what they wished for.
But wait. Prime Minister Maliki is now so afraid of ISIS that he wants U.S. forces to come back to keep ISIS from chopping off his head. For his part, Obama may be thinking: Been there. Done that. Goodbye, Maliki. Twenty-twenty hindsight tells us the JCS-recommended residual force of about 15,000 troops in Iraq could have preserved our victory and avoided the unmitigated disaster we see today. But President Obama ripped out the U.S. elements in Iraq root, branch, and tree. All that is left in Iraq is the U.S. military equipment currently being captured and used by the ISIS forces against the Maliki government.
And who, besides Republicans, voted for the U.S. to invade Iraq in the first place? In all, 110 Democrats. Notably: Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Diane Feinstein, John Edwards, Chris Dodd, and Charles Schumer. Again, be careful what you ask for. You may get it.
William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame.