Contrary to Peter Beinart and Walter Russell Mead I think that President Obama’s policy with respect to Iraq has been a tremendous success. It has succeeded in its objectives. Barack Obama has been elected to the presidency twice and only one American soldier has been killed in Iraq since 2011.
But sooner or later, honest liberals will have to admit that Obama’s Iraq policy has been a disaster. Since the president took office, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has grown ever more tyrannical and ever more sectarian, driving his country’s Sunnis toward revolt. Since Obama took office, Iraq watchers—including those within his own administration—have warned that unless the United States pushed hard for inclusive government, the country would slide back into civil war. Yet the White House has been so eager to put Iraq in America’s rearview mirror that, publicly at least, it has given Maliki an almost-free pass. Until now, when it may be too late.
Walter Russell Mead:
Welcome to President Obama’s brave new world. After six years in office pursuing strategies he believed would tame the terror threat and doing his best to reassure the American people that the terror situation was under control, with the “remnants” of al-Qaeda skittering into the shadows like roaches when the exterminator arrives, Obama now confronts the most powerful and hostile jihadi movement of modern times, a movement that dances on the graveyard of his hopes.
I think they’re losing sight of the bigger picture. President Obama acted as Candidate Obama promised. Had he acted differently he probably would not have been re-elected. They are demanding that President Obama act completely inconsistently with how American politicians act.
If it does not work out well either for the Iraqis, our allies, or for us, it simply reaffirms H. L. Mencken’s definition of democracy, i.e. the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.