Here is iron-clad reasoning on the hash our foreign policy has made in Iraq. Cato Institute’s Ben Friedman has this wired!
Today, we are repeatedly told that ISIS is more brutal than al Qaeda and thus a bigger danger to Americans. But that logic confuses an insurgency with a group focused on attacking Americans. ISIS is a nasty organization fond of terrorist violence, radical Islam, and Islamic caliphates, but not an obvious threat to Americans. Conflating morally noxious Islamists with those bent on killing Americans is one of the errors keeping us at endless war.
A second reason to stay out of Iraq’s turmoil is its increasingly sectarian nature. President Obama today repeated the claim that we building a multiethnic military in Iraq. But, as Barry Posen pointed out at Cato yesterday (1:02 here), that has been revealed as a sham, just like the claims made over the years by our political and military leaders that we were making progress toward building an effective Iraqi military. The effective part of Iraqi military that can hold Baghdad, we hope, is its Shiite core. The reality is that we’re talking about protecting a Shiite regime against Sunni rebels, not restoring a multiethnic state.
And the sectarian conflict is not confined to Iraq. Iran’s government said yesterday that it had dispatched Revolutionary Guards units to Iraq to fight ISIS. That’s because Iraq is governed by a Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite regime and because ISIS is already troubling Iran’s major state ally across the border in Syria. So what the President is really considering is joining those three regimes in their fights against Sunni rebellions. Why should we do that? What is victory in that fight worth to Americans?
The third reason to stay out is that we know how hard getting out is. Bombing ISIS on behalf of the Iraqi government may not change the balance of power in Iraq very much. If we again prop up a weak government, we may simply delay the day when Iraq develops a political system that matches its domestic balance of power. That seems likely to be a long, violent process that our participation may only delay.