Iraq shows flaws in U.S. plans

ISIS’ offensive in Iraq finally exposed before the American people the folly of George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

With nearly $25 billion invested in the Iraqi army, a small force of Islamic radicals were able to storm a major city and force the government army to the gates of Baghdad. Remarkably enough, those that perpetrated the actions in the first place tried to pin the blame on – who else – President Barack Obama.

John McCain, Joe Lieberman and the entire set of Fox News condemned the president for withdrawing from Iraq in 2011. Despite every indication that Bush’s tactic of arming the so-called awakening councils essentially rearmed Saddam Hussein’s allies at a price, and created the base of ISIS, they try to exonerate “W.” at Obama’s expense. Fact is, the intervention in 2003 was an unprovoked invasion that continues to scar American foreign policy today.

As well, it reveals that the American method of crushing the foe and then holding elections was flawed. Nuri al-Maliki’s regime was elected and re-elected under this formula. It was based on a foolish perception of Iraq’s history – a country created with blue and red pencils at Versailles in 1919. Moreover, the intervention aggravated whatever problems the country had internally. While they made jokes about “Baghdad Bob,” they implemented a strategy which has the world laughing at America. But give the neo-conservative hit-men credit, they will defend a bad cause undaunted by fear or evidence.

Not that the usual suspects don’t have sleeper cells in the Obama administration. John Kerry, the third amigo in the team of McCain and Lieberman, would love to ditch al-Maliki for a unity government. Like John F. Kennedy, Kerry is obsessed by individuals. Ngo Dinh Diem was ditched in South Vietnam in November 1963 and replaced by a Junta who embarrassed Lyndon Johnson. As Mike Mansfield put it, we “got off the right horse and onto the wrong horses.” What was considered an obvious choice turned out to be a prelude to disaster.

Baghdad did not fall like Paris in 1940 or Saigon in 1975. ISIS was too small. Also another dimension arose with Syrian fighters participating, fortified by money from Saudia Arabia. In this, Obama was vindicated in his decision not to enter the Syrian Civil War despite the pleas of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Obama, so far, has handled the Iraqi crisis well, despite those catcalls from the bleachers.

What has been refreshing is that Republicans have not joined in lockstep the neo-conservative calls for re-invention. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has resolutely opposed the discredited neo-cons, led by Richard Cheney. His remarks have been clear and honest about the ill-advised policies of Bush. Indeed, from Iraq to the Ukraine, Paul has been sharper than Obama and more consistent concerning the careless use of America’s most precious asset, its military. Paul wisely goes back to the source of the problem, militant internationalism.