Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Mission Accomplished--Again

Iraq is a victory. Let's defend it.

I'm not sure what to make of this writer's analysis about post-ISIL Iraq:

Will the defeat of Islamic State in Iraq be a foreign policy victory for Donald Trump? With the fall of Mosul imminent, what happens next?

There will be winners, like the Kurds. There will be losers, like Iraq’s Sunni minority. There will be gains for Iran, which backs the Shi’ite militias drafted to fight Sunni-dominated IS. And there may be a silver lining for the Trump administration - specifically in the form of Kurdish independence and permanent American bases in a Shi’ite-ruled Iraq. But any declaration of “victory” on the part of the United States depends on how the measure of those results is taken.

Of course the defeat of ISIL will be a victory for Trump. He shares it with Obama who initiated Iraq War 2.0 after wrongly leaving Iraq in 2011. But because Obama took way too long to wage this Iraq War 2.0, Trump gets to conclude it and share the credit. Why that is even a question is puzzling. Just what is the dark cloud of this victory over ISIL if you have to call Kurdish independence and a base in Iraq silver linings?

Will the Kurds win? Yes, if you count the defeat of ISIL that had threatened the Kurds and stressed their ability to hold their border against the terrorist proto-state threat.

But the author says "yes" because the Kurds will declare independence. I think that declaring independence could be the source of losing if either Iraq, Turkey, or Iran decide that an independent Iraqi Kurdistan is too much of a threat to tolerate.

And Iraq's Sunnis are losers? They will be rid of murderous religious thugs who oppressed and abused Sunni Arabs in the name of protecting them. That isn't a victory? Really?

The defeat of ISIL is a win for the Sunni Arabs. And maybe the Iraqi Shia realization that alienating Iraqi Sunni Arabs gave ISIL the opening to ravage Iraq will make for better future relations between the two groups.

An American base in Iraq will be a victory for America--to defend what Bush gained and what Obama/Trump have regained: a friendly Iraq with jihadis defeated within its territory.

So it will be a victory for America, Iraqis of all sects (including Sunni Arabs who with America remaining will have a referee to appeal to if the Shias forget the lesson of 2014), and anybody else that doesn't want a jihadi proto-state in the region.

Actually, this settles what to make of the author:

While the fight against Islamic State in Iraq isn’t over, an ending of sorts is clear enough to allow for some reasonable predictions. But whatever happens will leave an unanswered, and sadly, perhaps unasked, question: was the outcome worth to Americans the cost of some 4,500 dead, and trillions of taxpayer dollars spent, over the last 14 years?

I don't think much of the author's analysis.

I think the financial cost is way over-stated as a measure of what has been spent over the last 14 years. That cited tally includes spending in the future over the entire lifetimes of Iraq War veterans. So no, we did not spend trillions "over the last 14 years."

But what really gets me is the notion that the cost of the war's outcome has not been questioned. The left has done nothing but question the outcome and cost since about November 2003.

I think the cost of the war was worth defending. An Iraq that fights terrorists at our side rather than unleashing terrorism on their own people and our allies--and doesn't threaten to invade our other allies--is a victory.

And you must admit that since the vast majority of the costs in lives and money were expended during the Bush administration. So the Obama administration's decision to wage Iraq War 2.0 in September 2014 after the ISIL offensive in Iraq captured western and northern Iraq earlier in that year answers that question with a definite "yes." So the question of whether the war was worth it was answered "yes" by both Bush and Obama.

Now the real question is whether Trump says "yes" and makes sure we stay in Iraq to support democracy and rule of law; and to hunt down Sunni Arab jihadis and reduce Iranian influence in Iraq.

Victory is just the entry ticket to the next problems. Work the problems.

UPDATE: Iraq makes it official. Now keep going.