Failure in Iraq

I’ve written before about the contempt with which Europe views our President.  Here is another example of their view of our leadership, this time as it concerns our precipitous departure from Iraq.   The headline says it all: ” Iraq Is Neither Sovereign, Stable nor Self-Reliant.”

Spiegel Online‘s Bernhard Zand notes

[President] Obama conceded that Iraq was “not a perfect place,” but he also pointed out that the US military was “leaving a sovereign, stable and self-reliant country with a representative government elected by its people.”

Zand then lays it on the line:

…the circumstances of the US withdrawal, and the language Obama used to whitewash it, border on negligence. [That link is worth following, also.]

Here are the facts and specifics that Zand lays out.  Nebulously, without a formal—or even physical—presence, Iran sat in on yesterday’s Arab League summit meeting in Baghdad, along with the 10, or so, Arab members who attended (of 22 members.  So much for Araby’s view of Iraq’s national viability).  This occurred through  the summit’s central question: the degree to which Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, listens to Iranian input in Iraqi affairs.  Indeed, Iraq can’t even deal with its neighbor to the northwest just beyond Jordan, Syria, without “suggestions” from Iran.  The question about the depth of Iranian influence never was clearly answered at the summit.  As Zand puts it, it’s just

difficult to detect a sense of the kind of sovereignty Obama mentioned coming from the man in charge in Baghdad.

Al-Maliki’s move against the Sunnis isn’t contributing to national stability, either.  He isn’t just acting against a few key members of Sunni leadership in (or who used to be in) the Iraqi government.  Beyond things like the arrest warrant al-Maliki issued against (Sunni) Vice President Tariq Al-Hashimi and al-Maliki’s firing of one of his three Deputy Prime Ministers, Saleh al-Mutlaq, for presuming to demur from al-Maliki’s policies, al-Maliki is conducting a full-blown anti-Sunni jihad that threatens explosion into a worse civil war than that experienced in 2005-2007 before the Bush surge retrieved the country.

In Iraq’s favor, the jihad is al-Maliki’s; it’s not endemic to the Iraqi Shia.  The general (Arab) population of Shia in Iraq distrust the Iranian (Persian) Shia even more than they distrust the once-dominant Iraqi Sunnis.  And, they remember the Sunni nations—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, for instance—who played an active role in freeing them from Saddam Hussein.  But that favor can have effect only in the far future, and Iraq must survive to get there.  In the meantime, the jihad is ripping at the core of Iraqi nationhood.

Confidence in Iraq’s stability also was not enhanced by terrorist bombs going off during the summit near the Iranian embassy, just outside Baghdad’s Green Zone–where the summit was held.

Nor can Iraq be called self-reliant.  Unemployment is rampant and rising, and without the individual or public reserves that more stable countries have with which to whether such conditions.  Exacerbating what otherwise would be only an uncomfortable economic dislocation is the lack of basic services.  Other than the Kurdish lands, where the Kurds have enforced a stiff measure of autonomy from Baghdad, no one has electricity for more than a few hours a day, and even the drinking water is (barely) sufficient only through the efforts of foreign entities.  This does not permit an economy to recover.

Would things be turning out differently had Obama gotten a SOFA that would have allowed us to stay, the way we did in an earlier century after a much more bitter war?  Maybe not.  But we’ll never know because Obama didn’t even try.

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