Iraq on Its Own

Alan W. Dowd writes on defense and security.


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“The next president of the United States is not going to have to address the issue as to whether we went into Iraq or not,” Sen. John McCain explained in 2008. “The next president of the United States is going to have to decide how we leave, when we leave and what we leave behind.”

President Obama, as we now know, decided to leave Iraq rather abruptly—and to leave behind a fragile, unfinished country. As Iraq limps into the unknown, many dangers and questions await. Because U.S. troops are in Kuwait or back in the states, Iraq will face those dangers alone and Washington will have little say in how those questions are addressed.

The debates over whether President Bush should have launched the war and over how President Obama ended it will go on for many years. Perhaps someday a consensus will emerge. But perhaps it won’t. It pays to recall that 36 years after the fall of Saigon, Americans are still debating the war in Vietnam.

Suffice it to say here that President Bush, after receiving approval from the Senate (77-23) and the House (296-133), ordered U.S. forces to take down Saddam Hussein’s regime because September 11 changed the very DNA of U.S. national-security policy. “Any administration in such a crisis,” as historian John Lewis Gaddis concludes in Surprise, Security and the American Experience, “would have had to rethink what it thought it knew about security and hence strategy.” Was deterrence any longer possible? Was containment viable? Was giving repeat-offenders like Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt responsible?

One by one, the Bush administration—and large, bipartisan majorities in Congress—answered those questions. And the answer to each was “no,” which is why September 11 led first to Afghanistan and then to Baghdad. This is perhaps the most fundamental way that September 11 is linked to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq: The latter did not plan or hatch the former, but the former taught Washington a lesson about the danger of failing to confront threats before they are fully formed. In the same manner, the appeasement of Hitler at Munich at once had nothing and everything to do with how America responded to Stalin and his successors during the Cold War.

As for President Obama’s decision to let Iraq stand or fall on its own, it should come as no surprise. It pays to recall that the centerpiece of President Obama’s foreign policy—indeed the very fuel for his White House run—was always withdrawing from Iraq. If nothing else, he deserves credit for keeping his word.

Of course, when it comes to national security, inconsistency would be preferable to instability—especially in the Persian Gulf.

“Our forces are good,” according to Col. Salam Khaled of the Iraqi army, “but not to a sufficient degree that allows them to face external and internal challenges alone. The loyalty of forces is not to their homeland. The loyalty is to the political parties and to the sects.”

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  • dan

    "the reality is that the withdrawal leaves 16,000 American diplomats and civilians more exposed than ever before. In other words, there are plenty of American targets left behind in Iraq—and relative to a Kevlar-clad U.S. soldier, they are all soft targets."

    Wonderful. Another self created trip wire for us to trip over (or is it piano wire for us to be garroted with?).

  • mrbean

    The Obama proposal was an unmistakable signal of unseriousness. It became clear that he simply wanted out, leaving any Iraqi foolish enough to maintain a pro-American orientation exposed to Iranian influence, now unopposed and potentially lethal. Message received. Just this past week, Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurds— for two decades the staunchest of U.S. allies — visited Tehran to bend a knee to both President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It didn’t have to be this way. Our friends did not have to be left out in the cold to seek Iranian protection. Three years and a won war had given Obama the opportunity to establish a lasting strategic alliance with the Arab world’s second most important power. He failed, though he hardly tried very hard. The excuse is Iraqi refusal to grant legal immunity to U.S. forces. But the Bush administration encountered the same problem, and overcame it. Obama had little desire to. Indeed, he falsely portrays the evacuation as a success.

    • WarPossum101

      Yeah, he wanted out. That's what the people who elected him wanted. His supporters – the people who in Bush's administration protested with signs that read "End the War NOW," meant exactly that. No contingency plan, no shot in the locker, and certainly no concern for the Iraqis' future. Just out. To them, war is not complicated. It's just Bad. Mustn't do it. Now they're getting what they want, just in time for the 2012 election.

      • mrbean

        Obama us merely the Pronce of Fools and America will survive this one term President. I am not to sure about America surviving the collection of fools that voted for him though.

  • Indioviejo

    Joe Biden is an Idiot, but he said at one time that Iraq should be allowed to partition and even a dunce may unknowingly be right, once. Let the cow chips fly.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    “The next president of the United States is going to have to decide how we leave, when we leave and what we leave behind.”

    Actually, what we leave behind in Iraq was preordained even before we ever occupied Iraq to pursue an incredibly fantasy based and exceedingly counterproductive nation-building mission founded on false PC multicultural myths and assumptions. Indeed, why we would want to lift up what were always going to be our eternal enemies no matter what never made sense to me. Instead, if we did anything at all after the ouster of Saddam, we should have rendered them into abject poverty so that they would be too weak to be a threat to anyone.

    The debates over whether President Bush should have launched the war and over how President Obama ended it will go on for many years. Perhaps someday a consensus will emerge.

    Actually, one way or another the debates will eventually conclude with a strong consensus that both GWB and Obama, along with the mentally handicapped writer of this article, were all exceedingly unhinged and incredibly mentally incompetent, and some of us have actually been knowing it for years.

    “Any administration in such a crisis,” as historian John Lewis Gaddis​ concludes in Surprise, Security and the American Experience, “would have had to rethink what it thought it knew about security and hence strategy.” Was deterrence any longer possible? Was containment viable?

    Nothing had to be rethought, all GWB had to do was exercise common sense by outlawing Islam and banning and reversing mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage ASAP post 9/11. As Muslims never ever migrate to the West or anywhere else for that matter to assimilate and integrate, but instead to eventually subjugate and dominate via the eventual imposition of Sharia for the purpose of stealth demographic conquest to make Islam supreme. Thus, zero Muslims living in America as a fifth column naturally would yield zero violent jihad attacks. And I hate to rain on GWB and this gullible useful idiot writer's parade, but Islam is not a Religion of Peace™ being hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists, as that is a false PC multicultural myth.

    Indeed, instead of launching a totally misguided “War on Terror.” which, by the way, is a product of the West only, as terrorism and jihad are two mutually exclusive manifestations and in fact two entirely different things altogether, GWB should have put in place instead a policy of containment to contain the spread, growth, and expansion of Islam. If he had done that instead, the two biggest strategic blunders ever in American history in Iraq and Afghanistan would have been avoided. My sincere hope is that eventually the people responsible are held to account for all those American troops that were either killed or maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan for nothing. Someone must to be held accountable.

    Was giving repeat-offenders like Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt responsible?

    Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but nevertheless had the GHWB administration not been so ignorant of Islam and blinded by PC multiculturalism back then when Saddam had invaded and occupied Kuwait back in 1990, it would have privately encouraged Saddam to go ahead and occupy Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States also. In other words, we should have used Saddam as our unwitting proxy to destroy the stealth global jihad. I know, I know this all sounds incredibly counter intuitive and extremely ludicrous to say the least. However, had Saddam conquered and occupied Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States back in 1990, it would have dealt the permanent and perpetual stealth global jihad a very severe blow.

    Of course, that didn't happen. So was giving Saddam the benefit of the doubt the same way we are doing today with respect to Iran and Pakistan responsible? No…he had to be ousted. However, it was ludicrous to occupy Iraq afterward to pursue an incredibly fantasy based nation building mission. It was also ludicrous to occupy Afghanistan to also pursue an incredibly fantasy based nation-building mission. Nation-building missions always inevitably fail and turn into disasters.

    –continued below

  • ObamaYoMoma

    As for President Obama’s decision to let Iraq stand or fall on its own, it should come as no surprise. It pays to recall that the centerpiece of President Obama’s foreign policy—indeed the very fuel for his White House run—was always withdrawing from Iraq. If nothing else, he deserves credit for keeping his word.

    Hold on, hold on here RINOs! You guys are trying to transfer the responsibility for what is one of the greatest strategic blunders ever in American history for Iraq onto Obama in one fell swoop. However, you unhinged RINOs must bear the brunt of that responsibility. As although Obama in his own right is incredibly incompetent, he nevertheless inherited what was a doomed and insane fantasy based nation-building mission preordained to become a disaster. Indeed, the outcome in Iraq was always an inevitable disaster no matter what as all the premises were incredibly fantasy based because they were all founded on false PC multicultural myths and assumptions with respect to Islam and Muslims.

    As a matter of fact, had Obama not been incredibly incompetent in his own right, he would have withdrew from Iraq and Afghanistan ASAP upon taking office in 2008 and transitioned to a new sane policy of containing the spread, growth, and expansion of Islam instead.

    “Our forces are good,” according to Col. Salam Khaled of the Iraqi army, “but not to a sufficient degree that allows them to face external and internal challenges alone. The loyalty of forces is not to their homeland. The loyalty is to the political parties and to the sects.”

    So what? They are our fricking enemies and it is incredibly counterproductive to strengthen our enemies!

    Indeed, as Frederick Kagan​, one of the architects of the surge, has explained,

    With all due disrespect to the writer of this garbage, Frederick Kagan is one of the most unhinged and mentally deficient moonbats on the planet.

    But President Obama, in effect, undercut the too-little-too-late negotiations with a take-it-or-leave-it offer of a residual force of just 3,000 troops—a force not even large enough to protect itself.

    Puhleeeeeeezzzzeeee!

    That’s worth repeating: “no military commander supported” a complete withdrawal.

    You know what is really worth repeating, when the left hijacked the Pentagon and transformed it from what was once a merit based organization into a diversity based organization, all the best and brightest in the military retired or left the military ASAP, leaving behind only unhinged loons. Thus, today as sad as it is to say, but it nonetheless must be said and acknowledged, our military is completely broken and totally incompetent, and the proof is after 10 long years of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they still don't have the first clue about what is going on.

    Iranian IEDs, after all, have killed or maimed hundreds of American troops in Iraq’s postwar war

    And the only reason they are allowed to get away with it today, is exactly because our military is completely broken and totally incompetent.

    In short, it’s not difficult to imagine grim days ahead for Iraq and for the political, diplomatic and military personnel trying to make sense of President Obama’s policy.

    Actually, no matter what Obama's policy is, Iraq was preordained to become a disaster. Hence, it is the mentally incompetent RINOs responsible for pushing this fantasy based nation-building mission down the country's throat that are really responsible for the strategic blunder in Iraq and who also should all be held accountable by the public so that another strategic blunder like this one will never happen again.

    In fact, thousands of American troops were either killed or maimed and trillions of dollars were wasted and all for nothing. Someone needs to pay so this crap doesn't happen again. If it's up to this writer, really a RINO propagandist, he'll try to sweep it all under the rug or otherwise attempt to transfer the blame onto Obama.

    To paraphrase Sen. McCain​, the next president of the United States may have to decide how we rescue Iraq from itself—and from its neighbor to the east.

    Fat chance! McCain is one of those RINOs I would like to see held to account!

  • Ron Carnine

    Our military isn't broken and incompetent at all. However, we fell into the same trap that we fell into in Vietnam, a war run not by the military but by the politicians and public opinion. Our military really needs no defense, however, since their ability to operate is being challenged I would say this, to judge what the military is capable of look at the Gulf Wars. Iraq under Sadaam Hussein was supposed to be one of the top 3 or 4 militarize in the world. Yet, the US destroyed it completely in 3-4 weeks. The US has a vested interest in the Middle East because of our need for petroleum to keep our industries running. We also had to consider the threat of more attacks on the US after 9/11. Iraq definitely was producing biological products that, if not released in the US, would have been directed, most likely, at Israel, an important US ally. So if we examine the facts, our military is by far, the best in the world. What doomed our efforts was those who were in leadership in high places. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Our military isn't broken and incompetent at all.

      How can it not be broken? It's been 10 long years since 9/11 and it's still operating under the same false PC multicultural myths and assumptions it was operating under 10 years ago. The fact of the matter is when the military was transformed from a merit based organization to a diversity based organization, the best and brightest either left the military or retired ASAP, and the only ones that remained are moonbats.

      Yet, the US destroyed it completely in 3-4 weeks.

      Uhm….Saddam's vaunted military was of 1950s vintage and consisted mostly of ill trained conscripts who hated Saddam more than Saddam's enemies. Indeed, most of them took their uniforms off, abandoned the battlefield, and returned home.

      We also had to consider the threat of more attacks on the US after 9/11.

      The only reason 9/11 was possible is because there was a ready and willing population of non-violent stealth and deceptive jihadists already conveniently living in America as a fifth column.

      Nevertheless, in response to 9/11, instead of using common sense and outlawing Islam and banning and reversing mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage ASAP, since zero Muslims in America would equal no possibility of jihad attacks, GWB instead proclaimed that Islam is a Religion of Peace™ being hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists to pander for votes from the Islamic community.

      Then like a Dhimmicrat on steroids, GWB used the 9/11 jihad attacks, which he deliberately called terrorist attacks, as a crisis to justify doubling the size, scope, and power of the federal government via the creation of the extremely intrusive Patriot Act, the humongous and totally useless Department of Homeland Security, the incredibly invasive TSA, and the gargantuan and exceedingly incompetent National Intelligence Directorate, ostensibly to protect the homeland, but in reality to create a false sense of security so that GWB could justify increasing mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage to pander to his oil rich Saudi friends.

      In any event, since growing government is never the solution for anything much less protecting the homeland, the result is today we are even more vulnerable to violent jihad attacks than we were before 9/11, as the Fort Hood Massacre, the Christmas Day Bomber, the Times Square Bomber, the Arkansas jihad attack, etc. all demonstrate, and never mind the fact that it is also the reason that the federal deficits and the national debt inevitably skyrocketed the instant the economy headed south in 2008.

      As a matter of fact, we could quickly get our financial house back in order if we outlawed Islam and banned and reversed mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage ASAP, as again no Muslims living in America equals zero violent jihad attacks.

      Thus, we could repeal the intrusive Patriot Act, and roll back the humongous Department of Homeland Security, the invasive TSA, and the gargantuan National Intelligence Directorate, which together are the biggest boondoggles ever created in the history of the world.

      Hence, today we are contemplating massive budget cuts, massive tax increases, and implementing draconian cuts to our military that would inevitably open up the door for the forces of totalitarianism to become dominant in the world, and the reason we are doing this is so that we can continue accommodating mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage.

      Iraq definitely was producing biological products that,

      Of course, Saddam needed to be ousted. However, there was no need to occupy Iraq subsequently to pursue an extremely counterproductive fantasy based nation-building mission that was based on false PC multicultural myths and assumptions and as a result was preordained to fail no matter what.

      So if we examine the facts, our military is by far, the best in the world

      You certainly couldn't tell it from Iraq, since Saddam's military was not only of 1950s vintage, but most of Saddam's conscripts abandoned their posts and went home.

      What doomed our efforts was those who were in leadership in high places.

      The effort was doomed to fail because it was incredibly fantasy based to begin with as it was founded on PC multicultural myths and assumptions, like Islam is a Religion of Peace™ being hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists.

  • Wesley69

    Sure, Obama kept his word to get the troops out of Iraq. The Democrats had declared the war lost long before that. Obama is just helping the process along. Obama was never serious about achieving an acceptable outcome in Iraq, or for that matter, in Afghanistan his "good" war. Obama basically is handing the area over to the influence of Iran. To be truthful, it would be good to be totally out of this region altogether, but our dependence on foreign oil, made even worse by the policies of this president, will not allow that. That this president could not put the two things together and see this danger just displays the total ineptness of this administration. We want out. Get a Goddamn Energy Policy based on US resources OR friendly sources like Canada. If the Muslims want to kill each other in the name of Allah, let them. However, in the future, mess with us, and we will nuke you into the Stone Age and forget about nation-building.

  • Spider

    Amen to that Brother – Let the Islamic Hell Holes fester and die under the wight of their own madness just like the USSR did.

  • joy52

    Agreed.