Some truths about Iraq

Today President Barack Obama issued a statement on the situation in Iraq.

He reiterated that the ISIS/ISIL advance was a threat to US interests. He was receiving regular briefings from his national security team, and was in contact with the Iraqi leadership.

But if the people who got Iraq into the state it is today expected words of comfort, they were in for a rude surprise.

Pres. Obama tore into the Iraqi leadership, castigating it for not working anywhere near hard enough to knit the country’s various ethnicities and religious confessions together into a viable state. He bemoaned that all the money which the US taxpayer has poured into building the Iraqi Army seems to have gone to waste, as a numerically inferior force of terrorists has overrun Iraqi Army posts, brigades just melting away without firing a shot.

This is the state in which Iraq finds itself. A Shi’a elite has replaced a Sunni Arab elite, and has operated along the same lines as the former elite under Saddam Hussein. Sunni Arabs are shut out of any real power. Frustration builds. A civil war which had been somewhat tamped down by the time US troops left has flared up to full force again. There are other Sunni groups fighting the central government besides ISIS. And Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki keeps trying to centralize power and entrench his new elite.

Of course, the mistake was invading Iraq in the first place. Jihadi groups did not exist in the Levant before George W. Bush’s geopolitical disaster. This was a disaster aided and abetted by a feckless media, too shellshocked by 9/11 and Bush’s popularity to ask any real questions. The country and the “coalition of the willing” rushed to war against a country whose major sin was that it stuck in the craw of the PNAC crowd.

Invading was the first mistake. The second, more onerous error was to have no plan for the postwar settlement. It was envisaged that troops would be pulled out after six months, with an Iraqi government airlifted in, already prepared and equipped to take over from its exile in London and Paris. The problem was that these exiles had no power base in the country. They didn’t suffer the decades of oppression under Saddam Hussein. And the Shi’a who were under Saddam’s boot weren’t going to merely roll over and accept an imposed leadership. So, without a government to take over smoothly, the US suddenly found itself as an occupying power, with no plan in place. The postwar settlement went from a comedy of errors to an increasing tragedy, as sectarian war erupted, with US soldiers stuck in the middle, sometimes fighting Shi’a, sometimes Sunnis, at a cost of 4,000 US dead, thousands wounded, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead.

I know it’s not politic among our betters, but ISIS is the direct result of choices made by the former Bush Administration, just as 9/11 was the result of decisions made by the Reagan and Bush I Administrations in the 1980s and 1990s. The science-adverse GOP may not believe in cause and effect, but it still is how reality operates.

Pres. Obama, again, has been handed a mess. Iraq wasn’t Germany, Japan, or South Korea; those countries had no civil wars. The military couldn’t stay indefinitely in a country which no longer wanted it there. Something those braying about the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq may want to remember is that their withdrawal was negotiated by their hero George W. Bush. Pres. Obama honored the agreement with a sovereign state. And the US continued to support Iraq with training and advice—obviously to little effect.

The President spoke a harsh truth which the war party might want to remember: the US cannot and will not become militarily embroiled in a Middle Eastern civil war. Enough US blood and treasure has been spent, and an invasion would only encourage recruitment for the terrorists we’re trying to eradicate.

Land wars in Asia rarely turn out well. We must hope that Pres. Obama can drive that message home to our more bellicose friends.

84 Responses to “Some truths about Iraq”

  1. 1 desertflower
    June 13, 2014 at 12:53 pm


  2. 3 forus50
    June 13, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Great post LL.

    • 4 Linda
      June 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      Hey Ari…remember the surge in 2007

    • 7 Nena20409
      June 13, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      Since it was GW Bush who started and then negotiated the end…..thereby…..leaving a vacuum……perhaps this wicked fool should slap his rightie head?

    • 8 anniebella
      June 13, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      Honestly who gives a dam what that liar Ari Fleischer have to say, the mess going on in Iraq is his former boss fault. There was no need of us invading Iraq, but Bush-Cheney lied us into that war.

  3. 9 nospin
    June 13, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    what luck

  4. 11 No Child Left Behind
    June 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    LL, Thoughtful analysis.

  5. 12 Nena20409
    June 13, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Great Post LL. Thanks.

    DF has the Gold 🙂

  6. 13 desertflower
    June 13, 2014 at 1:01 pm


    Here’s a look at the possible solutions Obama will have before him — and why deciding among them is going to be a matter of choosing which is the least horrible:

    Why I’m grateful for this levelheaded and thoughtful President.

  7. June 13, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Wise words, as ever – thank you LL.

  8. June 13, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    And I’m not even a highly paid pundit.

  9. 24 Linda
    June 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Former Bush Press Secretary Forgets The Year U.S. Invaded Iraq

    Fleischer, the former press secretary under George W. Bush, decided to opine Friday on the Obama administration’s response to the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.

    The way Fleischer put it, even critics of the invasion had to acknowledge the United States squandered the success of the subsequent troop surge.

    “Regardless of what anyone thinks of going into Iraq in 2002, it’s a tragedy that the successes of the 2007 surge have been lost & abandoned,” Fleischer tweeted.


    He also once said that there were NO attacks on the US when Bush was President.

  10. 25 carolyn
    June 13, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    LL, excellent, clear, coherent explanation of why we are where we are, and who is responsible. I hope people who know how get this widely disseminated. I am SO thankful for President Barack Obama, once again, who has a cool head and a compassionate heart and studies and gets advice before making important decisions. No depending on “his gut!”

    • 26 Obama Grandmama
      June 13, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Even if PBO did use his gut for decision making he has enough study of history and perspectives as well as a moral compass and plan in mind to make good decisions on the spot.

  11. 27 JER
    June 13, 2014 at 1:23 pm

  12. 28 JER
    June 13, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    • June 13, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      OMG, this chokes me up completely.

      • 30 MightyPamela
        June 13, 2014 at 1:37 pm

        Me too, meta.

      • 33 kasai
        June 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm

        Me too Meta…Tearing up already…
        Bless Our President and Flotus..

        Thanks LL and Chips for this great coverage

      • 35 kasai
        June 13, 2014 at 2:46 pm

        Tribal Chairman Reacts To The President’s Visit:

        President Obama will be the third president to visit Indian Country. He’ll be on the Standing Rock Reservation Friday. Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault says it’s an honor and a blessing to welcome him.

        During his visit, the president will speak to tribal council members and young Native Americans about life on the reservation.

        “Their willingness to come only demonstrates that they’re sincere and compassionate, because they want to hear from our children. They want to hear the trials they face, and they want to find out how do they overcome adversity? They want to know if there is anything that the White House or the administration or the federal government can do to ensure that Indian Country continues to exist and prosper for centuries to come,” says Archambault.

        The president will also announce the next steps his administration will take to support jobs, education and self-determination in Indian Country

  13. June 13, 2014 at 1:25 pm

  14. 39 JER
    June 13, 2014 at 1:32 pm

  15. 40 JER
    June 13, 2014 at 1:34 pm

  16. 41 JER
    June 13, 2014 at 1:36 pm

  17. 42 Linda
    June 13, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    I will gag if Heidi Heitkamp is on AF1… She is a big fat liar about the Keystone Pipeline and the number of jobs it will create.

  18. June 13, 2014 at 1:39 pm

  19. 44 MightyPamela
    June 13, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Wow!! Did the formatting just change, very much for the better (except this field is a wee bit too dark). Suddenly I can READ THE BLOG!! (without squinting through my new eyeglass Rx)

    • 45 MightyPamela
      June 13, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Well, maybe disregard most of that comment, but for some reason the frame and text are larger, and much more readable. :sheepish:

  20. 46 Bill R.
    June 13, 2014 at 1:43 pm

  21. June 13, 2014 at 1:43 pm

  22. 48 desertflower
    June 13, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Oh, guess!! 🙂 🙂 Come on…. I would have said Arizona because I’ve lived in lots of places, but never have I seen a good ole boys, cronyville like this place….but, alas…there are states worse than mine:)


  23. June 13, 2014 at 1:45 pm

  24. 56 desertflower
    June 13, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Where’s that photo of the guy with his head REALLY up his ass? I think I wanna email that to McCain. Self portrait.

  25. 60 Linda
    June 13, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Did John McCain really say he went to Bush in 2011 and told him to fire Donald Rumsfeld on Morning Joke today ?

    It is in the comments here.


  26. 62 JER
    June 13, 2014 at 2:09 pm

  27. June 13, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Excellent analysis LL. On point!

  28. June 13, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Great post LL, thank you!

  29. June 13, 2014 at 2:14 pm

  30. 67 proudmemberofglobalzero
    June 13, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    I still remember this from 2006…found in 2008:

    I am so glad the President Obama is our POTUS

  31. 68 57andfemale
    June 13, 2014 at 2:29 pm

  32. 70 JER
    June 13, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    • 71 57andfemale
      June 13, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Quilts! I’m going to be teaching a similar design this summer. I should call it the “Obama Quilt”.

  33. 72 JER
    June 13, 2014 at 2:31 pm

  34. 80 HS
    June 13, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    There’s a great piece in todays WaPo titled “On Iraq, let’s ignore those who got it all wrong.” Here’s a line that’s particularly salient: “there are few people who understand Iraq less than the Republican politicians and pundits who are being sought out for their comments on the current situation.”


  35. 81 desertflower
    June 13, 2014 at 2:42 pm


    Uninsured students drop by 60% at Cal State campuses


  36. 82 Nena20409
    June 13, 2014 at 2:47 pm


    Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) will challenge House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca) to replace Eric Cantor as the next House Majority Leader, he announced in a statement Friday.

    “I want a House Leadership team that reflects the best of our conference. A leadership team that can bring the Republican conference together,” Labrador, first elected to the House in 2010, said. “A leadership team that can help unite and grow our party. Americans don’t believe their leaders in Washington are listening and now is the time to change that.”

    Oh Yeah…..Fight, Fight, Fight……Please, I beg you all TBGOPers 😉

  37. 83 Linda
    June 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) will challenge House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca) to replace Eric Cantor as the next House Majority Leader, he announced in a statement Friday.


    I think the Bergdahl’s live in his district.

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