“It is becoming increasingly likely,” writes Fareeed Zakaria, in today’s Washington Post, “that Iraq has reached a turning point.”
The forces hostile to the government have grown stronger, better equipped and more organized. And having now secured arms, ammunition and hundreds of millions of dollars in cash from their takeover of Mosul — Iraq’s second-largest city — they will build on these strengths. Inevitably, in Washington, the question has surfaced: Who lost Iraq?
Zakaria does not provide an to answer to his question directly, but if multiple choices were provided and “A” was Barack Obama, the answer for him would not be “A.”
Before we get to “B,” “C,” etc., it is worth noting that Zakaria’s position is not unique to him. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke to the press yesterday about the violent seizure of Mosul and Tikrit by the terrorist-guerilla group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. “I don’t think this is our responsibility,” she said, “but I do think we were irresponsible for going into Iraq for a variety of other reasons…. War begets war; it’s just not a good idea.” The families of the 3,528 American military personnel killed in combat to date could not be reached for a reaction to Pelosi’s remarks.
A war gone south is not a minor matter. Although the American public is war-weary, they nevertheless crave answers from their leaders when the nation expends blood and, to a lesser extent, treasure that seems in the final analysis to have been sacrificed in vain.
So who does Fareed Zakaria blame for the current mess in Iraq? First, he blames Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. In fairness, Maliki does deserves some of the blame. “The prime minister and his ruling party have behaved like thugs,” Zakaria writes, “excluding the Sunnis from power, using the army, police forces and militias to terrorize their opponents.”
And who put Maliki in power? Why, it was the Bush administration. The answer to the question of who lost Iraq appears to be “D,” which is “Both B and C,” where “B” is Maliki and “C” is George W. Bush.
But what of “E” — “All of the above”? Zakaria touches on that, asking rhetorically:
If the Bush administration deserves a fair share of blame for “losing Iraq,” what about the Obama administration and its decision to withdraw American forces from the country by the end of 2011?
After careful consideration, Zakaria answers by holding Obama blameless. Even though he acknowledges that “a small American force in Iraq to try to prevent the country’s collapse” would have been a good thing, he explains that such “a force is not there” because Maliki refused “to sign a status of forces agreement.”
Zacharia conveniently ignores the facts as they pertain to Obama, who didn’t just decide to withdraw American forces from the country by the end of 2011. He announced it to the world in 2009. Giving a heads-up to the enemy that you have an end date for pulling all troops from a war zone has a name. It’s called surrender.
There’s more. Instead of assessing the situation on the ground in 2011, Obama ignored the advice of his own military leaders and executed his plan to cut and run.
Even now, as the situation looks increasingly grim, Obama said yesterday that “all options are on the table,” a claim that he quickly clarified to exclude boots on the ground. He offered to provide air support, meaning equipment that the Iraqis can use to defend themselves, even though Gen. Robert Scales explained last night on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that the Iraqis are unable to fly the planes the U.S. government left behind, nor do they have the ground forces necessary for conducting missions by air.
Granted, the American people have no taste for war. But neither do they have a president willing to appear before them to explain why troops are needed at this juncture and what the nation stands to lose by remaining aloof.