What Should We Do in Iraq?

by Dave Schuler on June 20, 2014

What should we do in Iraq? I’ve already given my opinion. I think we need to identify our interests, quantify them, assess our abilities, and take whatever action consistent with our abilities will actually advance our interests.

I don’t think that President Obama’s most recent sally, sending advisors, is anything but a face-saving measure. It doesn’t really interest me. Complaining that Maliki must go strikes me as the stuff of campus radicals, operating under the theory that anything must be better than the status quo. That’s fine for a kid of 18 but not nearly so in fifty year old men and women who should recognize just how much worse things could actually become.

If we have no interests and there’s nothing we should or can do, I think we should maintain a low profile, i.e. STFU.

As it is I think we’re advancing tactics without identifying objectives, rarely a prudent move.

I’m not much interested in debating about “who shot John?” Our foreign policy has been a hash since September 2001. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

So, what should we do in Iraq?

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Bird Dog June 20, 2014 at 11:59 pm

I don’t see the problem with saying that Maliki should step down. After all, he’s the one primarily responsible for this civil war and it’s extremely unlikely that he’ll bring Sunnis back into the fold.
I don’t see the point of Obama sending “advisors” to Iraq because that means we are choosing Shiites over Sunnis, and I’m pretty sure this president said that we shouldn’t choose sides in this civil war.
What should we do? If there’s actionable intelligence on ISIS members, hit ‘em, so long as we don’t hit tribal sheikhs and former Awakening members, not that this would do much good.
The second thing we could do is immediately recognize Kurdistan if or when it declares independence.

... June 21, 2014 at 12:26 am

Janis Gore wrote: I mean, what’s a few hundred advisors? That can’t mean much trouble, can it?

You’re noticing again, Janis. You are NOT supposed to notice things these days, as that is crimethink.

CStanley wrote: Mind you, I didn’t say that technology was being used to its full capability.

Fair point, and I stand corrected.

steve June 21, 2014 at 7:01 am

We should recognize our interests, but also what it is possible to do. We have an interest in stability. We dont know how to provide stability. I am skeptical that even a plan where we came in and wrote the constitution and imposed courts and universities would have worked. We really dont understand the culture that well. I dont think you provide a functioning democracy as a gift. Would it have had a better chance of working than what we did? Maybe, but I doubt it, but if anything was going to work, it needed to be done immediately.

What we might be able to do is salvage something of value for us. Let the regional powers of the area work with each other and figure out what they want to do. if they decide to partition, we can be of some aid in the process and, hopefully, get some concessions from Iran. While we are there, we can work on obtaining intel about ISIS in case they are a problem in the future for us. (To the best of my knowledge they are a local group that has taken no actions against the US.)

Steve

... June 21, 2014 at 8:28 am

Bird Dog, why did we chose sides in so many other civil wars (partial list: Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Crimea) in the recent past if it isn’t our business?

Ben Wolf June 21, 2014 at 8:48 am

A very good interview with Andrew Bacevich by Bill Moyers:
http://vimeo.com/98693864

jan June 21, 2014 at 9:18 am

” I dont think you provide a functioning democracy as a gift. “

Well said…

Most of the people in Iraq seem to see and value their sectarian alliances more than their ties of being one big Iraqi family. Here in the U.S. we pretty much do the same thing, except along political/ideological lines, which are getting more distinct, corrosive and polarized all the time.

Janis Gore June 21, 2014 at 10:00 am

Ben:

Thanks. I didn’t know there was a billmoyers.com.

TastyBits June 21, 2014 at 10:25 am

@steve

… I dont think you provide a functioning democracy as a gift. …

In the US, each generation is provided with the gift of a functioning democracy. In Iraq, it would have taken at least one, but more likely two or three, to establish the functioning part.

It is like domesticating a tiger. It is going to take a lot of time and energy. You will need to breed many generations to obtain an animal not likely to rip off your face, and if you are not prepared to finish, it is probably best to not start.

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