Friday, May 22, 2015

Iraq War Debate Part LXIX

Direct Hit! Fire for effect!

We were right to invade Iraq in 2003 to remove Saddam Hussein, and to complete the job we should have finished in 1991.

Even with the absence of caches of weapons of mass destruction, and the mistakes we made in failing to send enough troops at first and to provide security from the beginning for the Iraqi people, we were right to persevere through several difficult years. We were able to bring the war to a reasonably successful conclusion in 2008.

When 44 took office, Iraq was calm, al-Qaeda was weakened and ISIS did not exist. Iran, meanwhile, was under pressure from abroad (due to sanctions) and at home (due to popular discontent, manifested by the Green uprising in the summer of 2009).

44's administration threw it all away. It failed to support the dissidents in Iran in 2009, mishandled the Iraqi elections in 2010, removed all U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of 2011, and allowed the Syrian civil war to spiral out of control from 2011 on.

We see, this week in Ramadi but this year throughout the Middle East, the predictable consequences of this disastrous policy of withdrawal and retreat.

And even though the threat is now clear as day, this administration shows no sign of changing course, as 43 did when it became clear his strategy in Iraq wasn't working.

I'm convinced it's no more true to say today that Iraq was always Mission Impossible than it was to claim in 2004 that Iraq was Mission Accomplished. But whatever one's judgment of 43's policies, or 44's, this new debate on Iraq provokes a serious discussion of our policy options moving forward.

If it does, Americans will come to the view that there's no alternative to American world leadership, and that such leadership must be backed by the threat of military strength and the willingness, in the right time and circumstances, to use it.