Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Calling for a Willing Suspension of Disbelief

A former official defends the Obama administration over failing to get a status of forces agreement in 2011. Which requires you to believe that the Obama administration worked very hard to get exactly what they wanted--getting out of Iraq.

And despite that argument, our presence would have made Iraq more resilient and able to resist the forces tearing at Iraq's fabric without resorting to Saddam tactics to suppress them.

And yes, we could have helped keep Iraq's armed forces in better shape and focused on completing the defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq.

But no, saying that even our presence couldn't have stopped ISIS from flowing from Syria into Iraq is not a defense of the Obama administration. It is another condemnation of administration policy that did nothing to stop the rise of jihadis in Syria.

And let's not even start on the failure to support the Green Revolution in Iran and subsequent attempts to make Iran a partner that have emboldened and enabled Iran to cause more harm in both Iraq and Syria.

But basically you have to believe that President Obama tried very hard to avoid getting exactly what he and his supporters wanted in 2011--and 2003, for that matter:

We’re losing in Iraq because the people who are now in charge of our policy always said that we would lose, always thought that we should lose, always tried to make us lose, and now they get to make it happen.

Talk about requiring a willing suspension of disbelief over Iraq. I just don't believe President Obama did more than go through the formalities of negotiations to be able to say they tried.

If President Obama was so eager to stay in Iraq in 2011 but for those darned recalcitrant Iraqis, why is President Obama today providing for a much smaller and briefer post-combat role American presence in an Afghanistan far less settled (and which is the "good" war!) than Bush put in place for Iraq in 2008?

And for the right, stop talking about how President Obama is responsible for losing Iraq. Don't join the wish-fulfillment crowd in writing off Iraq just to hang a major defeat on Obama. Iraq took a big hit--partly as the fault of President Obama's decision to walk away from Iraq--but the jihadis can't walk into Baghdad unless we do so much damage to Iraqi morale that far more troops desert than I think is likely at this point.

Thus far the jihadis are walking into Sunni Arab territory where they have support. While that is disturbing, that doesn't mean they can defeat Iraqis to take and hold for long chunks of Shia-majority Iraq.

Work the problem. Too many Americans seem eager for Iraq to fail for one reason or another.