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      Andrew Bacevich on Iraq

      I don’t pretend to understand the president’s thinking and certainly have no insider knowledge.  My general sense is this: the administration finds itself today with no operable strategy with respect to the Arab/Islamic world. The initiative symbolized by the Cairo speech back in 2009 yielded nothing.  The same applies to Kerry’s effort to bring closure to the “peace process” — the major diplomatic initiative of the second term. In the meantime, the Arab Spring with all of its unexpected turns and repercussions finds the US and the world at large as spectators.

      Apart from a possible deal with Iran (not a lot of public chatter on that subject), the president faces the prospect of completing two terms in office without a major foreign policy accomplishment to his credit.  From his perspective, the closest thing to an achievement is the negative one of ending wars, first in Iraq and then in Afghanistan.  He proudly claimed to have ended the first when the last US troops left Iraq in December 2011.  The claim was a bogus one.  In reality, the Iraq War simply continued without direct US participation.  Still, the administration found it politically expedient to pretend otherwise.  The last thing the president or the people around him wanted to do was to acknowledge that the trend lines in Iraq were all negative — which they were even before ISIS exploded onto the scene.  Yet it was the appearance of ISIS — Fallujah falling, Mosul falling — that made it impossible to sustain the pretense that the US had finally accomplished its mission in Iraq.  The result: this half-hearted military effort, which might possibly blunt the ISIS offensive but which has no chance of affecting the basic reality, which is that Iraq is mired in crisis at the center of a region that is mired in crisis.  Despite all the Washington chatter about the need for Obama to exercise “leadership,” the truth is that he doesn’t know what to do because practically speaking there is very little we can do to affect the course of events.


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      Reader Comments (2)

      It seems to me that getting the U.S. military out of Iraq is a major accomplishment. Yes, the Green Zone and all that, but still. Doing so was left to him as the dirty work of cleaning up after the criminal Bush-Cheney regime's war crimes. Winding down the western military occupation of Afghanistan is likewise a major accomplishment already, and soon to be moreso once withdrawn. The same 'dirty work' description regarding Bush-Cheney regime applies with Afghanistan.

      Not launching major new wars IS a major accomplishment for any American president, given the MIC pressures and still largely ignorant and complacent population. Also, it's only 2014, with two more years to go. Hopefully, miraculously, there could be some retrenchment and standdown from the U.S.-Israeli hegemonic policies as well, though this may continue to be only a fond dream. Eisenhower may have been our last best chance to do anything to rein in that medieval-minded mess.

      August 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLarry

      Obama inherited the SOF agreement with Iraq from a chastened Connecticut Cowboy who, once Iraq had an elected government, was forced to engage them as a sovereign nation(drats) and managed, after failing to extend our stay there because the Iraqis refused to give our troops a 00 license to kill with impunity, to beat W's deadline by about 13 days.

      As for O's getting us out of Afghanistan, he is doing so, sort of, but not until trying and failing with his own surge, just like his "cousin" Bush did in Iraq.

      Video game loving, Shock and Awe believing America is finding out an old truism; wars are easy to start, but once unleashed, no one, especially those serious men with heavy jowls and self important miens known as generals and politicians, have any clue as to where they are headed, other than death and destruction for many and vast wealth for a few.

      August 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermichael nola
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