Following the debacle of a Middle East foreign policy crafted by the Bush neocons, Barack Obama has tumbled down the same rabbit’s hole. The Cato Institute’s Doug Bandow outlines the quagmire Obama has gotten America into in Iraq and correctly suggests that Obama has one last chance to put an end to the folly of American intervention in Iraq.
The only serious alternative to fully reentering Iraq is to step out, making clear that ISIL’s neighbors will bear the cost of any further advances. Iraq desperately requires a political solution, one which either radically decentralizes government control or formally dismembers the country. Anti-Baghdad Sunni tribes and former Baathists must be separated from their unnatural ally of convenience with a group dedicated to recreating the 7th century.
Jordan and the Gulf States also have much at stake and have military forces available for use. Most important is Turkey, which alone has some 400,000 men under arms. It fears Kurdish separatism and supports the overthrow of Assad. But a functioning Islamic State on the border would create even bigger problems for Ankara. Washington should inform Turkey that there will be no NATO involvement in a problem Ankara can and should confront.
The administration’s Iraq policy has failed. The U.S. is more entangled in conflict and war; Americans have been killed in retaliation for Washington’s intervention; the Islamic State is still advancing; U.S. allies continue to free ride on America; Washington hopes to square a nonexistent circle in Syria.
Alas, those most responsible for the ongoing debacle in Iraq are most insistent on even more extensive and intensive military intervention. This almost certainly would make the problem worse, much worse.
Indeed, Washington’s strategy has failed almost everywhere in the Middle East. And U.S. missteps continue, with policy seemingly set on permanent repeat. American officials should back out of Iraq, not jump in. This may be President Obama’s final opportunity to avoid a lengthy war which could come to define his legacy as the 2003 Iraq War came to define that of George W. Bush.