Thursday, June 12, 2014

How to Lose a Country in 3 Years

We, the U.S., left Iraq is reasonably good shape. There was a workable agreement between the central government and the Kurds. There was also the demonstration project (the surge) that showed how to work with the Sunni minority.

All that was lost on a clueless leader.

If you're a GOP partisan, you think the clueless leader is Obama. But I disagree. I think the clueless leader was Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. He pursued policies that shut out the Sunni population as though there would be no repercussions. That was foolish because the Sunnis had already shown a preference for rebellion over submission. 

Now the Iraqi army is deserting its positions without even engaging incoming Sunni forces. They are just running away. al-Maliki wants to declare a state of emergency, but can't get a quorum in the legislative branch to show up. Well, that's what happens when you build your plan on wishful thinking.

I don't know if a different US president could have helped prevent these losses in Iraq. My best guess is that the Iraqi leaders were stubborn in their views that they could do exactly what they wanted, and needn't share power (and spoils), nor make other compromises for the sake of unity. Any other US president also would have failed in negotiating a Status-of-forces agreement and failed to maintain US influence and US-tested moderating policies. 

So I don't think Obama is losing Iraq. Nor it is Bush's fault (for a change). Instead I think it's the short-sightedness of leaders in Iraq. Sometimes, there's no saving people from themselves. Actually, most of the time, you can't save people from themselves. Yet we try because sometimes it works. If only we knew when it was hopeless, or, more importantly, when it's worth the effort, expense, and lives. 


Extra. Recently I was pointed to this column in National Review. It talks about the likely results of the Status-of-Forces agreement of 2008, worked out between Bush and the Iraqis. So much of what has occurred was predicted then, without any idea of what Obama would fuck up do as president. It was predictable based on the Iraqis, the Iranians, and the habits of Islamist fighters. 


Dangerous said...

Are these "losses"? It seems to me that it's not our fight at all, and we'd care not a wit if Bush et. al. hadn't put us in the middle of it by invading Iraq and breaking it.

Saddam Hussein kept a lid on the very old conflict by being ruthless. As soon as he was gone, this was going to happen and continue for at least a decade.

What we need to do is get the world away from oil dependency on the Middle East so we don't have to take sides in the intramural Islamic feud. There are no winners and no friends to make or keep. It may be callous, but let them fight it out if that's what it's going to be. I assume Iran will not only allow a Sunni-run Iraq and will launch a war much as they did against Saddam.

ANY blame falling on Obama is ridiculous. Even if he is a Muslim. ;)

ModeratePoli said...


Perhaps I wasn't blunt enough. We didn't lose Iraq. They did it to themselves.

Dangerous said...

Right. Every time a tyrant is deposed, the historical factions look to settle old scores. Every time. Everywhere. Since history began.

Sometimes, they eventually work it out. Maybe the US will do that someday.