What should the United States do about the pending collapse of much of Iraq into the hands of al-Qa’eda linked radical Islamic extremists?
In short, the debate is this: Do we use our military to stem the tide, or do we sit back and watch? Before addressing this matter, it is important to understand America’s military involvement and the mistakes of both the Bush and Obama Administrations vis a vis Iraq. Prior to the 2003 American-led military campaign against Iraq, which was authorized by the U.S. Congress (including then-Senator Hillary Clinton), the Bush Administration attempted to expand the meaning of the phrase “War on Terror” to include those rogue states who posed a threat to the United States by means of possessing or seeking to possess weapons of mass destruction.
For instance, in 2002, President Bush said, “The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.” Most certainly, the 2003 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was waged with this maxim in mind. This was a mistake as it turns out – for Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction were wiped out in the 1991 Gulf War. Nevertheless, soon after the obliteration of Hussein’s military, the United States and coalition partners were faced with massive sectarian violence from a variety of terror groups inside Iraq (some directly funded and trained by Iran). After much folly, the Bush “surge” of American military might in 2007 absolutely crushed them – we killed over 7,000 in Fallujah alone – and an acceptable degree of stability was brought to the country.
When President Obama took office in 2009, the expectation from the American military was that a status of forces agreement (SOFA) would be hammered out by his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and a significant American military force would remain to provide additional time for the fledgling Iraqi government to take root. Everyone knew the Democratic Party had long demonized Bush and the Iraq War, but it was unthinkable that President Obama would simply pull everything out. Campaign rhetoric is one thing, but reality is quite another.
Indeed, after the sacrifice of 4,000 American lives, stability had been achieved and Iraq might have emerged as a partner and ally of the United States in a very troubled area of the world. To use a football analogy, in 2011, we were in the fourth quarter of the football game and two touchdowns ahead, when President Obama literally pulled all our players off the field – Obama order the immediate departure of all American forces. The result was predictable: The country fell apart. The excuse that Hillary Clinton could not get the Iraqi government to agree to a SOFA rang as hollow then as it does now. Obama’s mantra all along was that Iraq was the “bad” war and had to be abandoned, and so it was. Instead of Iraq turning into a pivot of hope in the region for the spread of human rights and democratic ideals, the al-Qa’eda have returned with a vengeance.
But that was then and this is now. What to do?
We must approach the matter of military intervention from the perspective of the best interests of the United States of America. While we can all wish that other nations embraced our love for freedom and justice, this is simply not the case. To the serious student of military history, the use of the armed forces is to destroy those enemies that attack us, period. In the case of Iraq, we cannot undo what has been done. Add into the equation that the vast majority of the people in the United States are opposed to going back into Iraq, unless Iraq physically attacks the United States or a close ally of the United States, and the bottom line is that we will do nothing. As long as the orgy of violence is restricted to the borders of Iraq, nothing will be done. Furthermore, in case the “internationalists” have not discovered the truth about the United Nations, here it is: the United Nations is absolutely worthless without the United States leading the way.