There was certainly no intelligence failure on the part of the Iraqi government. Iraq’s weapons shopping list suddenly began getting really big. Their government was clearly preparing for something.
Iraq’s explanation it expected spillover from the fighting in Syria was dismissed by many. Experts assumed that Iraq couldn’t really be shopping for heavy firepower because it was worried about Al Qaeda. The idea that it needed air power to take on a terrorist group was seen as laughable. The assumption was that Iraq was going to involve itself in external conflicts.
As we’ve now seen, the Iraqis were telling the truth. About that at any rate.
Iraq’s shopping list alone should have set off a lot of alarm bells in our intelligence services. It’s possible that some wrong conclusions were reached, but it’s even more likely that no one at the top wanted to hear about a flare up in Iraq.
Certainly no one in Obama Inc. was interested.
There are two kinds of intelligence failures. One is where the information isn’t available or the right conclusions aren’t reached. The other is where both of those things happen but no one wants to hear it.
I suspect Al Qaeda’s big push in Iraq was in the second category.
Part of the reason for that may be the question of what is really behind ISIS. Al Qaeda in Iraq has always been nasty and ruthless, but since the Syrian Civil War it suddenly has a lot more money and an international network. It’s acquired a lot more sophistication and is capable of going up against conventional armies and winning.
Some of that may be natural, but it’s more likely that there is at least one country behind it, maybe more. And it’s very likely that those countries are officially our allies.
If we take too close a look at ISIS, the arrow will point to where no one in power wants it to point.
This isn’t a case of “We don’t know.” It’s a case of “We don’t want to know.”