Asked at a Washington conference why Americans should expect the latest US intervention in Iraq to go better this time, Dempsey said "we think we're taking a different approach."
"Instead of grabbing a hold of it, owning it and then gradually transitioning it back, we're telling them from the start, look, that is about you, this has to be your campaign plan," the general said at a conference organized by the Defense One website.
One, the question is stupid because it ignores 2012 and 2013 when we walked away from Iraq without trying to maintain the institutions--including the armed forces--that could defend our gains from the first intervention.
Instead, we stood aside as Iraq deteriorated.
Two, the answer ignores 2003 to 2011, when we built the Iraqi security forces (and remained to keep the Iraqis on track) that we can now support in this different approach:
I'd like to again note that the only reason President Obama can contemplate taking on ISIL in Iraq without using US ground forces is that under President Bush, a coalition of the very forces we will count on to be a ground force we can support from the air was built from 2003 to 2008.
I mean, really. In 2003 we had to own the campaign because friendly forces were too weak to overthrow Saddam and defend the new government against Saddam's henchmen, jihadis, and Syrian and Iranian intervention to destabilize Iraq.
Today we have the luxury of supporting Iraq because of what we did before 2012.
And we must support the Iraqis at this significant level because of what we didn't do until late this year, which might have allowed Iraq to hold their ground with far less allied support.