A Proper Response to Iraq
Despite the further deterioration of the situation in Iraq, no clear, coherent American policy has emerged from either side of the aisle. The President in his typical fashion has waffled while finding the time to play golf. Democrats are split between those who would never question the POTUS and those that have had it with the foreign policy indifference of this administration and who want action taken. Meanwhile the right is screaming for something to be done yet many are unwilling to do what must be done. ISIS must not be allowed to drag all of Iraq into a civil war. To allow such a thing to happen disregards the sacrifices of thousands over the past decade and creates a situation from which nobody can benefit.
When looking at Iraq, one must acknowledge to a degree that we are partly responsible for what has occurred. Would ISIS be in Iraq if Saddam Hussein remained in power or would he have already fallen during the Arab Spring? Maybe yes, maybe no. Regardless, the sectarian violence that emerged post invasion was the result of a power vacuum of our creation. In that regard we should act in Iraq; you break it you buy it. What's more is that Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki has already requested U.S. military action against ISIS; the call for help has been made. Unfortunately that call was rebuffed by the administration which was unwilling to restart a conflict that the president had "ended." Bear in mind, the call for assistance was made when we had the best chance of stopping ISIS as it was marshalling its forces for its offensive.
So then what should the U.S. do in Iraq? Boots on the ground in a combat role are unnecessary. Furthermore in the time it would take to deploy sizeable ground forces, ISIS might just disappear into the civilian population as they would be unwilling to fight us one-on-one (ISIS has shown reluctance to fight Kurdish forces as they are seen as better organized and with higher morale than Iraqi armed forces.) If we were to use ground troops and ISIS militants disappeared into the population we would be operating in a garrison role and susceptible to the same deadly insurgent attacks we faced post-invasion. Ultimately that is not the answer.
In this situation we would be best to conduct surgical air strikes against ISIS forces, cut their links to Syria and decapitate their leadership. The Iraqi army after facing numerous defeats is now reorganizing itself and has made several successful stands and advances against ISIS. We should take advantage of that and support them with whatever intelligence we have and back it up with supplies if needed. ISIS lacks the ability to continue to sustain their offensive much longer, much less hold territory against an organized military. One must also consider that the Shia and Kurdish communities are rising against the Sunni based ISIS and they vastly outnumber the latter.
While the situation can be saved one thing must be stressed which to the administrations credit, it has spoken about. Part of the problem is that al-Maliki has pursued exclusionary government practices. During the Hussein era, the Sunni minority ran Iraq and oppressed the majority Shi'a and Kurdish groups. Now the Shi'a majority are oppressing the Kurds and Sunnis. A nation divided cannot stand and this is a lesson that the Iraqi leadership should take to heart and we must pressure al-Maliki to reform his government. There are some who are arguing that we should use military assistance as a reward for this and the president and some leading conservatives have hinted at it or outright supported it. I don't believe in this, not in this situation but bear in mind we can pressure al-Maliki in other ways.
Additionally, we have been discussing cooperation with the Iranians who are eager to see the defeat of the Sunni ISIS. I applaud the prospect of cooperation with Iran but we must bear in mind that nothing should be done which makes the situation worse off and that which significantly increases Iranian power in the region. The primary concern of Tehran is seeing the Shi'a population emerge dominant in Iraq and it was partly due to that, that we find ourselves in this current situation.
President Obama is starting to come around but it is still all talk. The crisis in Iraq demands decisiveness and commitment if it is to be resolved. We must assist the Iraqis. We can't allow for a group as depraved and barbaric as ISIS to be allowed to roam free. Bear in mind that this group is claimed to have executed over 1,700 Iraqi civilians and soldiers, a claim which many are accepting as fact. To sit idly by and allow this mindless violence and wanton bloodshed to continue is unfathomable. A difference can be made that would allow the U.S. to not deeply imbed itself in the conflict while promoting the reforms needed that might have prevented this situation in the first place. Now is not the time for delay.Posted by SPBrooker at June 18, 2014 10:23 AM