Russia is sending aircraft to Iraq's air force:
After the United States delayed a sale of fighter jets to Iraq, Russia sold planes to the Iraqi government. Now they've sent military experts to Baghdad.
Gen. Anwar Hama Ameen, who heads the Iraqi air force, explained that the secondhand jets would quickly be deployed in the government's fight against the Sunni extremist group ISIS.
I don't think it is fair to say we've delayed the sale of F-16s to Iraq because it takes time to train Iraqis to fly and maintain a new plane; and the Iraqis are fighting for the main base we planned to send the aircraft to. This is just a convenient excuse by Maliki to show us he has alternatives.
I do wonder who will fly and maintain these planes. Is Iraq buying crews and ground personnel to keep them flying?
Unlike the dilemma it poses for us, the fusion of the Iraq and Syria fronts is a windfall for Russia. They can portray their support for Maliki and Assad as a fight against ISIL jihadis--allowing Putin to pose as the good guy. And show us up as a less-than-reliable partner when the chips are down.
Reducing our role in Iraq by supplanting us to some degree also helps Iran--Russia's other buddy in the region--gain influence at our expense.
This is what smart diplomacy looks like, people.
We should help Iraq fight ISIL, and make sure that Iraqis know we will support whatever leader Iraq's laws put in the seat rather than trying to pull strings to choose Iraq's leader.
And for God's sake, don't let John Kerry talk to Russia's Lavrov about Iraq. Kerry will shake Lavrov's hand and then walk away without his watch, wallet, and underwear.
Please tell me that Kerry isn't so confused that he still believes he might earn a Nobel Peace Prize with his spasmodic contortions across the world stage. He has a better chance of getting a Hero of the Soviet Union award, at this rate.
And yes, I wrote "Soviet Union" on purpose.
UPDATE: Yes, Russia is providing pilots and ground crews. That will speed up procurement.