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June 13, 2014

America Isn't "Losing" Iraq, Iraq Is
Obama Speaking On Iraq---NO US Troops

Above the post update:

Obama now speaking before heading out for a weekend trip.

Says "threat isn't new". They've been "ramping up" military aide for months. So much for being surprised.

No US troops going to Iraq. Says it's not "primarily a military" problem. That was true weeks ago. Now it's very much a military issue.

In short, Obama just wrote off Iraq.

This is naive beyond belief. As I wrote below, I get why we didn't leave troops behind but to not act in this situation with direct military action is beyond irresponsble. '

He's basically just given ISIS the territory they have (whether they can keep it over the long term is a very different question) and handed the Shia areas to Iran.

In answer to a question he said (bit of a paraphrase here) "events are moving fast on the ground but it will take us days to do our consultations and take any actions".

I'm...there are no words.

I changed the headline because he said no US troops. He may have meant ground forces and kept the bombing option open. But he's insistence that any decisions on US actions are at a minimum "days" away may make whatever decision he comes to moot.

Original Post:
An interesting piece by Lieutenant general (US Army ret) Mark Hertling, via Mike Lyons, about the rot within the Iraqi security forces and political structures and how it lead to what we are seeing today.

Even before the U.S. forces left, American-trained leaders were being replaced with more and more “favored” officers from sects, tribes or families linked to the government. They weren’t chosen for their competency, a big mistake.

The increasing sectarianism of the central government turned people against the security forces, too, and against public officials. A punishing operational tempo for both elite and normal units meant that “select and trusted” Iraqi units were being shuttled to the various trouble spots across the country. Those on the frontiers were worn out fighting local insurgencies, terrorists and criminals. The Iraqi Army was, in effect, in combat continuously for several years after U.S. forces departed. There was little re-training and little rest. This kind of operational tempo will exhaust even the best soldiers. For Iraq’s soldiers, their level of training and toxic leadership became a recipe for disaster.

Politically, the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been a disaster from almost Day 1. He's either incapable or more likely unwilling to govern in anything by a sectarian manner.

In the two and a half years since the Americans’ departure, Maliki has centralized power within his own circle, cut the Sunnis out of political power, and unleashed a wave of arrests and repression. Maliki’s march to authoritarian rule has fueled the reëmergence of the Sunni insurgency directly. With nowhere else to go, Iraq’s Sunnis are turning, once again, to the extremists to protect them.

It's the inability of the Iraqis to demand or do better that has landed them in the crisis they now find themselves in . A lot of people are now saying (and in fairness said it at the time) that the US should have left some troops in Iraq to prevent this from happening. Personally, I'm not convinced any number of troops for any length of time would have solved the fundamental schisms of Iraq's society. But that's irrelevant now and has been for some time.

Obama won the 2008 election in no small part because he promised to get the US out of Iraq. John McCain lost in no small part because he famously argued we should stay "100 years" if that's what it took. The American people made their choice. To now say that having won on getting out of Iraq Obama should have instead turned around and adopted McCain's losing policy idea is absurd.

This does not absolve Obama from his negligent inaction in the face of the imminent threat presented by the still growing ISIS invasion. That's entirely on Obama and his band of national security incompetents. But the great "loss of Iraq"? That's on the Iraqis. They were given a chance to build a decent country after Saddam's removal and they squandered it.

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