So much for “leading from behind”. The Islamofascists are making tremendous gains in Iraq. Here’s the latest:
The Obama administration is weighing options for an imminent response to the crisis in Iraq, including airstrikes against Islamic extremists who have overrun Iraqi cities to within striking distance of Baghdad, and expanded intelligence and targeting assistance for Iraqi military forces.
In the face of rapid extremist advances and the collapse of Iraqi military defenses in the north, the administration has decided temporarily to put aside its long-term goal of pressing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for political reforms in favor of immediate action to stabilize the security situation.
Asked whether he was considering drone strikes, President (Barack) Obama, who held a principals’ meeting with senior national security aides Thursday, said a number of options were being considered. “It’s fair to say . . . there will be some short-term, immediate things that need to be done militarily,” he added.
A senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations, said: “We are definitely looking at this with urgency.”
U.S. contractors began evacuating the air base in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, that is being prepared for the arrival this year of F-16 aircraft purchased by Iraq. The international engineering and electronics company Siemens was trying to move 51 people out of Baiji, about 30 miles farther north, where they are upgrading Iraqi power plants.
The Russians are gloating at our expense & the media is already preparing the groundwork in blaming Iraqi leader Maliki for his country’s meltdown. I anticipate the “it’s Bush’s fault” meme to be dusted off & utilized once again.
More After the Jump
My buddy Richard Howe had an interesting observation to make regarding the current situation in Iraq:
We’ve seen this before. It was in the spring of 1975 in Vietnam. The regime that the United States had created and sustained at such a high cost in American lives and finances collapsed not long after US troops withdrew. That’s not the end of the parallels. Our entrance to both wars was based on lies. In Vietnam, that North Vietnamese patrol boats had attacked a US naval ship in the Gulf of Tonkin – not true. In Iraq, that Saddam Hussein possessed “weapons of mass destruction” – also not true. In both cases, US troops were committed in situations that deprived them of the edge they possessed in advanced weaponry and technology – In Vietnam, it was jungle fighting; in Iraq it was urban warfare. In both cases, the United States propped up corrupt regimes that not only failed to win the popular support of their people, but seemed not to even care about winning that support. Both faced committed enemies with great patience and unlimited endurance which allowed them to persevere until after US combat troops departed. Because our government’s rationale for fighting both wars was without merit and cloaked in deceit, the American people soon concluded that continuing the fight was not a vital strategic interest of our country and soon opposed the continued cost of involvement in American lives and money.
While there’s a lot of truth to what Howe states, he neglects to mention some key differences. Both North Vietnamese & the current wave of Islamofascists took decisive action once they (respectively) sensed weakness from America.
With Richard Nixon‘s fall due to the Watergate scandal, the North Vietnamese violated the terms of its peace accord with the South (as brokered with America) & invaded its neighbor. Congress ignored Gerald Ford‘s plea to defend the South Vietnamese & soon thereafter Saigon fell. In time, Cambodia & Laos would also be enslaved by communism.
Today’s Islamofascists are gambling that Obama’s talk of “timetables” & “red lines” is just that: talk. They’ve seen his diffidence in the face of challenges presented to him by Russia, Syria, Egypt, et al. His dithering emboldens them.
While Maliki’s corrupt & incompetent rule played a major role in the looming debacle, the Obama Administration must be held responsible for not being forceful enough to work with that country’s key players – Sunnis, Shiites, & Kurds – to make a true democracy possible in one of the most strategically important countries in the Mideast.
But what other scenario could one expect of Obama given his personal/professional history – one that lacks executive & military experience? When you’re a community organizer, your job is to gather & exploit grievances in order to advance yourself (& your career). Nothing in Chicago got solved & in some cases things got worse after Obama moved on. Given the historical grievances in Iraq that predated George W Bush & the British Mandate, how could Obama’s skills as a community organizer come into play to make things better? By their nature, they couldn’t – & didn’t.
Hence the strategy of “leading from behind” which is a strategy that has (rightly) been interpreted by our enemies as a form of weakness. If that weakness allows Bagdad to fall into the hands of the Islamofascists, it will be a consequential disaster on par with Iran falling into the hands of the Islamofascists under the watch of Jimmy Carter.