Monday, June 16, 2014

Putting Out The Fire

Iraq is burning

44 says that he is mulling options for providing support to Iraq, but with great reluctance. "The U.S. is not simply going to involve itself in a military action in the absence of a political plan by the Iraqis," he said Friday.

A political plan for Iraq is vital. Everything the administration has said about the sectarianism and mis-governance of Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki is true. Assistance to Iraq must include strong conditions to press Maliki to change his approach - or leave office.

The Iraqis need vigorous and intelligent American involvement right now to prevent a stalemate that will leave ISIS in control of much of northern Iraq. That is an unacceptable outcome, one that would do far more damage to America than our retreat from Vietnam in 1975.

We face a simple choice: We can either rejoin our demoralized Iraqi partners in the fight against ISIS or we can watch as this Al Qaeda franchise solidifies its control over several million Iraqis and Syrians, completes its plundering of military bases and continues to build up, train and equip an honest-to-goodness military.

Rejoining the fight means immediately sending air support; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets; air transportation; Special Operations forces; training teams; and more military equipment back into Iraq. It does not mean re-invading Iraq.

Some may argue that we should align ourselves with Iran - that our interests and Tehran's coincide in Iraq. This is folly. The U.S. and Iran share a common concern about Al Qaeda, but our approaches to dealing with the problem are antithetical.

Turning the problem over to Iran is absolutely incompatible with the conditions for involving the U.S. at all that the President announced Friday. If we back Iran in Iraq, we're taking Iran's side against our Arab allies and aligning with the Shi'a against the Sunni. We should not be taking sides, particularly since Iran's approach is certain to lead to an expansion of sectarian war, providing a perennial recruiting masterpiece for Al Qaeda.

Let us dispense with such sophistries at once. For all intents and purposes, ISIS is the Artist Formerly Known as Al Qaeda in Iraq. Whatever disagreements may fester at the moment, it is and remains part of the global Al Qaeda movement. The group continues to draw would-be jihadis from around the world, including the U.S. and Canada, to fight and die in Syria and Iraq. And it is about to become the most powerful and successful Al Qaeda franchise ever.

There is no way that such a development will be anything but disastrous for the U.S., even leaving aside the calamity that will flow from the full-scale regional and sectarian war that may already be underway.

There is, in fact, no end in sight for this war now, especially if we allow Iraq to go down. A policy of retreat and abandonment remains as it has always been the fastest road to endless war.

Pic - "Great Satan should approach the strategic situation as it stands, and alter its policies before the balance of power shifts further in the direction of either ISIS or Iran"