This is really starting to feel like deja vu. On Friday it was announced that President Obama was sending 1500 more soldiers to Iraq, nearly doubling the number that is currently there.
But didn’t we just have a major withdrawal of troops from Iraq not too long ago? And wasn’t that a big deal for Obama?
Indeed it was - Obama did make a major decision to withdraw American troops from Iraq in 2012, leaving only a small force to help train Iraqi’s.
But some argue that it was Obama’s premature decision to remove troops from Iraq back in 2011 and 2012 that directly led to a power vacuum in the country and thus the birth and rise of ISIS - the extremist group we are now trying to combat - in the first place. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is one of those who sees tragic irony and misstep in this whole see-saw. In a book excerpt, he said this about the situation:
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"It was clear to me--and many others--that withdrawing all our forces would endanger the fragile stability then barely holding Iraq together...My fear, as I voiced to the President and others, was that if the country split apart or slid back into the violence that we'd seen in the years immediately following the U.S. invasion, it could become a new haven for terrorists to plot attacks against the U.S. Iraq's stability was not only in Iraq's interest but also in ours...”
President Obama of course does not own all the blame for this morass that is Iraq, of course. He inherited the lunacy from George W. Bush who also declared victory in Iraq during his term in a much seen photo op from the deck of a U.S. warship. But Obama certainly is guilty in his own right of continuing this never ending loop.
I have never believed that real peace can ever be achieved by a gun. But I also believe that if you are going to commit to fight, then by all means fight til the job is done. One thing that clearly does not work, anywhere, but especially in a place like Iraq, where the history of extremism and anti-Western hatred is so deeply rooted, rightly or wrongly, is swinging back and forth.
Of course the age-old American way of fighting without fighting, since Vietnam and other less “declared” wars is for us to send in troops as advisors to the local troops. According to the White House they will have no combat role, but will rather just be advising and training Iraqi and Kurdish forces. And if you believe that I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
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So we are bombing ISIS targets as part of our response against the group, which to me means we are fighting them directly. But we are not willing to fight them on the ground, because that is not our role. Does this make sense to anybody? Sounds like a confused and political way of dealing with this. And history has already shown us what the outcome of a confused and not fully committed military policy results in. Can you say Vietnam?
Photo Credit: WikiCommons