Monday, June 24, 2013

Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

Five years into the bloody war in Iraq the Bush administration launched its belated, but crucial troop surge and counterinsurgency campaign in 2007.  Led by General Petraeus, this plan, rather than concealing a precipitous withdrawal from the country, finally subdued Iraq's enemies, foreign and domestic.  For the next couple of years Iraq was relatively quiet as the Obama administration ramped up efforts in Afghanistan.

The first real indication, for those who hoped or feared President Obama's foreign policy would be like a Bush third term, was his simultaneous announcement of a troop surge and a withdrawal plan. Unlike Bush with Iraq, Obama refused to commit himself to pursuing victory in Afghanistan. His surge was a delaying tactic in comparison, a way to extricate his administration from the responsibility for the war while trying to avoid blame for the eventual defeat.

However, President Obama's Afghanistan policy looks positively Churchillian when compared to the complete and utter debacle he has made of Iraq.  More than 4,000 Americans and many more Iraqis were killed toppling Hussein's regime and battling the ferocious assortment of former regime elements, al-Qaeda cells, Sadarist militias and other Iranian backed militants.  It is fair to say that America, as the President likes to say, had some skin in the game.

With a semblance of stability finally to show for all the blood and treasure liberals so loudly denounced, what does President Obama do?  He commits the most terrible U.S. foreign policy blunder of the last hundred years.  The administration apparently viewed it merely as a political hot potato it wanted to rid itself of, a vestige of the Bush administration. However, history did not begin in January, 2009 and it will surely not end in January, 2016.  Iraq is a fragile and weak ally at best, but a problematic ally in that particular spot is infinitely better than a failing state falling into the orbit of one of our most dangerous enemies - Iran.

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