06
Oct
14

Back in Iraq

With the ISIS horror show tweeting murders and beheadings as it blazes through Iraq, pressure has mounted on world powers for new Iraqi intervention. This time they’re well equipped to attack remotely from up above rather than exposing troops to an extended ground assault. In his recent national address, President Barack Obama announced some measures to combat the terrorist group in Iraq. Air power will be used to seek and force out ISIS militants from various cities and towns they control across Syria and Iraq. There will also be an increased total of 1,600 American military advisers and others working with Iraqi Army, Kurdish fighters, and sectarian militias to defeat ISIS. US Vice President declared “we will follow them to the gates of hell”. Despite confident words from the administration, almost 70 percent of Americans lack confidence that the US will achieve their stated goals in fighting ISIS. Recent history with similar tactics in Afghanistan has proven that a decade isn’t long enough to establish a dependable local police force. This means the president, and perhaps the next several, will need to somehow sustain US public support for an entire generation to give the plan any real chance at success.
In an effort to train and equip US allies to fight terrorists, Obama has requested $5 billion from Congress. $500 million of that money will be spent on training a new Syrian opposition in Saudi Arabia. Even though Iraq demanded US assistance in fighting ISIS, and has even relented and promised immunity for US troops, the new Iraqi Prime minister made it clear that there will be no foreign combat forces on ground. This a day after US General Martin E. Dempsey recommended that American soldiers may be needed if current efforts fail.
Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Jordan have joined the US-led alliance against ISIS. Russia and China also appear likely to give support for an operation launched against the extremists. Broad consensus from strange bedfellows may be what sets this effort apart from recent conflicts waged in the area. Granted, the proposed plan is not yet unique or inspiring, but support from all global powers may give this effort unparalleled staying power. Temporarily beating ISIS back into hiding is one thing. Strengthening Iraq’s weak government and military to sustain the peace is another matter altogether. Although a new government has been formed in Iraq, not much has changed since the old players are still in power. Nouri al-Malaki, the former prime minister is now the vice president and previous policy makers have been reshuffled.
With Afghanistan and Iraq are unraveling, the fruits of interventionist policies have come to bear. During his election campaign Obama promised to end the wars since the economy was in ruins and the American public was fed up. However, ISIS’ rampage across the region is becoming harder to ignore and the US finds itself back in Iraq. As Colin Powell once stated about the US invasion of Iraq “If you break it, you own it”. Contrary to President Bush rushing into a declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq, Obama is reluctant to even define what success would look like in this case or even the aftermath of “degrading” ISIS. US politician Jim Moran sums it up as “the best of a long list of bad options”.

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