Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Archive for June, 2014

It’s Obama’s Fault This Time

Posted by Warren Peterson on June 16, 2014

George W. Bush was rightly faulted for not anticipating the chaos that followed the fall of Saddam. He invaded Iraq with enough military force to overwhelm the Iraqi army but not enough to maintain order until a new government could be established. The result was a bloody campaign to regain the upper hand. It concluded with a gutsy decision by Bush to insert more troops (the Surge) which successfully turned the tide in our favor. With the presidential election in 2008, he turned over to Obama a country that still had a chance to seed democracy in the Middle East but it needed support and yes, pressure on the Iraq government and leadership from the United States.

Obama, probably the most inexperienced presidential candidate ever elected, took office in 2009 based on public frustration with Bush, soaring rhetoric (…”this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”), and a litany of promises that mostly turned out to be empty of truth. One of the promises he did keep was ending American involvement in Iraq. The last American troops left Iraq in mid December 2011. Iraq was on its own; no US air power, no US ground forces, no residual US military period. Obama failed to negotiate a Status of Forces agreement, assuming he ever seriously wanted one, to allow some level of US military to remain in Iraq as a stabilizing force and deterrent to exactly what is happening now. He’s repeating his mistake in Afghanistan by telling the Taliban when we are departing and leaving an inadequate force in country insufficient to stabilize or deter. The Taliban cannot help but notice how quickly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria insurgents took advantage of the power vacuum resulting from the end of US involvement in Iraq. One cannot say a continued military presence in Iraq would solve all issues but it could have checked the current crisis.

Obama’s leftist ideology and inexperience will snatch defeat from victory and possibly lead to a regional war. Shiite Iran is making noises about helping fellow Shiites in Iraq defeat the ISIS. Imagine, the potential nuclear armed enemy of the United States pulling our bacon so to speak out of the fire. Could anyone mishandle this crisis more than Obama? Maybe he will break out some of his famous “red lines” or have Michelle start a hashtag campaign, #Iraq for Iraqis – more “leading from behind.” 

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