Everything Old Is New Again

The president who promised to get us out of Iraq–and keep us out–has decided that we need to go back into Iraq. My realist bent understands the reasons for our return, and my realpolitik leanings appreciate them, but of course, we have absolutely no idea when our how our involvement is going to end, what constitutes “victory” and what our exit strategy is going to be. I will be waiting to see whether the Obama administration will give answers to these questions, but I might have to wait a while before the administration decides to have a full and frank discussion with the American people regarding this issue.

And yes, the following bears noting:

To some, this is a crisis Mr. Obama brought on himself by not trying harder to leave a residual force behind at the end of 2011 and neglecting to recognize the growing threat as the civil war in Syria next door increasingly spilled over into Iraq. Some argued that a virtual state under ISIS control posed more than the humanitarian threat Mr. Obama seemed to be focused on.

“This is about America’s national security,” said Ryan Crocker, who was ambassador to Iraq under Mr. Bush and to Afghanistan under Mr. Obama. “We don’t understand real evil, organized evil, very well. This is evil incarnate. People like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” the ISIS leader, “have been in a fight for a decade. They are messianic in their vision, and they are not going to stop.”

Maybe if the Obama administration did not botch negotiations with Iraq over whether to leave troops there, we would not be in this position. And of course, it should be noted that national security gains in Iraq have been slipping away for a while now.

Oh, and read this:

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein warned Friday of the risk that the insurgent group ISIL could be preparing fighters to attack American and European targets.

“It has become clear that ISIL is recruiting fighters in Western countries, training them to fight its battles in the Middle East and possibly returning them to European and American cities to attack us in our backyard,” the California Democrat said in a statement backing military action authorized by President Barack Obama. “We simply cannot allow this to happen.”

Feinstein called for a broader military campaign against ISIL, not just the targeted missions authorized by the president.

“It takes an army to defeat an army, and I believe that we either confront ISIL now or we will be forced to deal with an even stronger enemy in the future. Inaction is no longer an option. I support actions by the administration to coordinate efforts with Iraq and other allies to use our military strength and targeting expertise to the fullest extent possible,” Feinstein said.

Remember when George W. Bush said that we needed to fight the terrorists in Iraq in order to ensure that they did not come here to attack us? Remember how that statement was ridiculed by the bien pensant community? Now, apparently, it is a rationale for the Obama administration’s own decision to go to war in Iraq. I don’t suppose that there will be nearly as much criticism leveled against this particular belief this time around, since this time around, Democrats are the ones who are advancing it.

Oh, and we really should have elected Mitt Romney president:

. . . since his 2012 defeat, Mr Romney has been proved right about a variety of issues. When he called Russia a “geopolitical foe” during a 2012 presidential debate, Mr Obama gibed: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War has now been over for twenty years.”

Since that time, of course, Russia has annexed Crimea and massed troops on Ukraine’s border. The shooting down of a Malaysian passenger plane in the east of the country is widely believed to have been carried out by Russian separatists. Advantage Mr Romney.

Within seconds of taunting Mitt over Russia, during that same debate, Mr Obama crowed: “Just a few weeks ago, you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now.”

As I write these words, Islamic State militants are slaughtering Iraqi minorities having taken over Iraq’s largest Christian city. This crisis might have been averted had Mr Obama decided to leave a small reserve force in Iraq. Another round for Mr Romney.