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The Crisis in Iraq: We Must Keep It Out of Islamist Hands
National Review ^ | 06/12/2014 | The Editors

Posted on 06/12/2014 7:00:05 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Al-Qaeda, the Obama administration has told us repeatedly, is on the path to defeat. Now it’s literally on the road to Baghdad.

This week, al-Qaeda in Iraq, now known as ISIS, retook Iraq’s second city, Mosul, where it put up its last spasms of resistance back in 2008. Then it retook Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, and reports suggest it’s moving rapidly toward Iraq’s capital city.

The Iraqi army has put up little resistance, and the government, led by Nouri al-Maliki, is only now scrambling to respond. At best, it is in for a long war with ISIS, which controls a huge swath of territory across the Iraq-Syria border.

This turn of events was a long time coming, and the Obama administration ignored all the incipient problems along the way, just as it has largely ignored this week’s events.

Violence has been on the rise in Iraq for over a year now, with ISIS playing a large role. The Iraqi army has also been politicized, co-opted, and misused — and therefore weakened — by Maliki. The army’s capabilities, and those of the Iraqi state, were also likely overestimated in the face of political pressures for the U.S. to cut its support and withdraw from the country. That retreat, of which President Obama still seems proud, left the Iraqi security forces to do a job for which they were not prepared.

All of the foregoing set the stage for this week’s blitzkrieg. The Iraqi state’s weakness, the conflict in Syria, and America’s general lack of interest in the region have created space for a transnational Islamist force, with an army and significant oil resources, to take cities and begin a march toward Baghdad.

Maliki needs help now, and the U.S. needs to give it to him. The Obama administration, asked about the country’s impending collapse, noted that it has sent Maliki a few hundred missiles, some rifles, and lots of ammunition. It’s possible ISIS will overextend itself, but all the ammunition in the world may not be enough for the Iraqi army, such as it is, to retake the cities ISIS controls and stamp out the insurgency.

The Iraqi government has a long list of weapons and support it needs. The U.S. ought to meet those requests, at least. The Maliki government may need U.S. advisory support — and possibly even other measures — to stop ISIS’s advance and retake the cities that have been overrun.

This is anathema to the Obama administration: It much prefers handwringing to intervention. But deliberation now (not unlike in Syria) will allow the Islamists to solidify their position and amplify their influence.

If the Obama administration doesn’t consider the risk of a transnational Islamist state, controlled by al-Qaeda’s most brutal and, today, most deadly offshoot, worthy of an immediate response, we don’t know what would be.

There are plenty of reasons to worry about backing Maliki: He is a natural sectarian who’s relied on Shiite militias to confront ISIS. He’s been busy consolidating an authoritarian power base. He’s flirted far too much with Iran.

But these sectarian instincts are also survivalist ones. Critics who don’t want to support Maliki worry that he will become an Iranian puppet, but the surest way to make that happen would be to remove his other option, a strong alliance with the U.S.

Maliki has to drive ISIS out of Iraq’s cities and ensure that they can’t return. In the long term, this means a political settlement that Sunnis can trust, so that they can’t be bullied or tempted into supporting groups like ISIS instead. The U.S. should give Maliki real long-term support — as was expected before Obama’s rapid abandonment in 2012 — in exchange for a real commitment to better treatment and political roles for the Sunnis and reforms of the military.

ISIS has drawn much of the strength for its recent resurgence from the vacuum that’s opened up for jihadists in Syria. Al-Qaeda groups there, in the absence of any Western influence, have become a magnet for foreign fighters, weapons, and financial resources, some of which they seem now to have turned to Iraq.

The lesson there is not just that dithering can be deadly. It’s also that Islamist terror is not easily defeated, and it knows no borders.

President Obama has celebrated his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraqi and Afghan territory as the way wars end in the 21st century — with a handover to a competent governing authority. But when we don’t take the time to build those authorities, and don’t support them after we depart their borders, the result can end up looking a lot more like the eighth century than the 21st.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: iraq; islamist; jihadist; terrorism

1 posted on 06/12/2014 7:00:05 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
No thanks we don't need anymore dead american troops for this. We need our Military on the borders. Now with the war in Iraq and more dead Americans. What a joke.
2 posted on 06/12/2014 7:03:10 AM PDT by angcat
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To: SeekAndFind

If we really wanted to keep Iraq out of radical Islamist hands, then we shouldn’t have elected a radical Muslim as President.


3 posted on 06/12/2014 7:03:18 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: SeekAndFind

It was an expensive, bloody war, but at least in early 2009, Bush and Petreaus had it stabilized to the point where a relatively small US presence could maintain order.

Obama the idiot gave it all away and set Iraq on fire.


4 posted on 06/12/2014 7:03:20 AM PDT by PGR88
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To: SeekAndFind

Very depressing news coming out of Iraq.

Are we better off with Iraq becoming an Al Qaeda state?

The media and liberals will spin this as Bush’s fault, because we should never have gone into Iraq in the first place.

But, Obama likes to talk about how he inherited difficult problems when he became president. His decision to withdraw as we did helped create the circumstances for Al Qaeda to gain strength in Iraq.

And Obama has frequently said Bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is on the run due to his policies.

How do these events square with Obama’s statements that Al Qaeda is on the run, and that due to his allegedly enlightened policies, that the back of Al Qaeda was broken???


5 posted on 06/12/2014 7:04:24 AM PDT by Dilbert San Diego (et o)
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To: SeekAndFind

2 late


6 posted on 06/12/2014 7:05:19 AM PDT by Don Corleone ("Oil the gun..eat the cannoli. Take it to the Mattress.")
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To: SeekAndFind
"I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction." - Barack Hussein Obama (Audacity of Hope).

Oboma has spent his entire presidency aiding the militant muslims, and the world is suffering greatly because of it.
This is what happens when people vote for someone based on political correctness rather than common sense.

7 posted on 06/12/2014 7:10:56 AM PDT by concerned about politics ("Get thee behind me, Liberal")
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To: Dilbert San Diego

Here’s my proposal:

Let’s go with history, not against it.

Iraq was an artificial country created by the British and the French. We have to re-do what they did.

Recognize three new countries — a Sunni west, Kurdish north, and Shia south.

If the western portion was truly an independent country, I think we could easily get the Saudis and other Sunni countries to back a pan-Arab peacekeeping force to throw out the radicals and set up a new, non-threatening government there.


8 posted on 06/12/2014 7:11:55 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
But when we don’t take the time to build those authorities, and don’t support them after we depart their borders, the result can end up looking a lot more like the eighth century than the 21st.

We were in Germany and Japan for a long time, and both of those, especially Germany, were relatively modern countries at the time that they fell under the sway of loonies who made them threats to the world.

But we have to recall that Obama's goal is not to bring Third World Islamic hell-holes into the modern world (because that would mean Westernizing them), but to destroy the West.

He had no interest in stabilizing or modernizing Iraq, and certainly no interest in anything that would make the US look good or powerful.

9 posted on 06/12/2014 7:12:44 AM PDT by livius
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To: SeekAndFind

uhhhh....the US put parts of Iraq and Nigeria in their hands when it overthrew dictators who controlled them and armed and trained the terrorists coming out of Syria and Libya.


10 posted on 06/12/2014 7:13:05 AM PDT by grania
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To: SeekAndFind

Good luck with all of that.


11 posted on 06/12/2014 7:13:56 AM PDT by GSWarrior
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To: SeekAndFind

Most presidents scurry around the last two years of their second term trying to nail down what they see as their legacy.

Obama doesn’t have that concern.

The New Caliphate taking shape in the mideast is his legacy along with destruction of the American economy and the transformation of free America into an Autocratic Dictatorship ruled by the arrogant racist tyrant Obama himself.


12 posted on 06/12/2014 7:17:25 AM PDT by Iron Munro (The Obamas' Black skin has morphed into Teflon thanks to the Obama Media)
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To: SeekAndFind

Have these inside-the-beltway intellectual fools learned nothing from our repeated propping up of the lesser of evils? Enough! Just as no bank is too big to fail, no government which will not fight for, and then ENFORCE, freedom for its own people is too big to fail. Enough of our blood and treasure.

Colonel, USAFR


13 posted on 06/12/2014 7:17:53 AM PDT by jagusafr (the American Trinity (Liberty, In G0D We Trust, E Pluribus Unum))
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To: SeekAndFind

Hey NR, you should’ve thought of that 11 years ago when you were cheerleading for war against a secularist Iraqi government.


14 posted on 06/12/2014 7:23:45 AM PDT by Romulus
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To: SeekAndFind

Pray for Israel.


15 posted on 06/12/2014 7:24:37 AM PDT by Oldeconomybuyer (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Get a clue, NRO. The islamists had it all along and our islamist caliph in chief has no intentions of saving the Iraq that we re-built at great cost. It’s another Obama victory of transformational neglect and collapse.


16 posted on 06/12/2014 7:26:35 AM PDT by TADSLOS (The Event Horizon has come and gone. Buckle up and hang on.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Sunni or Shiite?

Let's leave this to the private sector. Anyone who wants to should go to Iraq and pick a side. Or, stay home and raise money to help your favorite flavor of Muslim.

Like most problems, the Iraq problem cannot be solved by more and more government intervention.

17 posted on 06/12/2014 7:27:12 AM PDT by Tau Food (Never give a sword to a man who can't dance.)
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To: grania
dictators who controlled them

Sad to say, but yeah. Without a brutal dictator, they're like wild, blood thirsty animals.
Maybe they're just too primitive to understand freedom and self control.

18 posted on 06/12/2014 7:27:46 AM PDT by concerned about politics ("Get thee behind me, Liberal")
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To: SeekAndFind

Just how many times must we get involved in a Muslim country, before we get it through our heads that “YOU CAN NOT MAKE A SILK PURSE OUT OF A SOWS EAR”. I know of no Muslim country, other than Malaysia, that doesn’t prefer a “STRONG MAN” to lead their country. Name any Muslim country, again except Malaysia, that hasn’t elected a “STRONG MAN” to lead their country. That’s the only thing a Muslim, living in a Muslim country, knows. They have absolutely no idea what a “DEMOCRATIC/REPUBLIC” is, or how it works. Every 50 years or so, every Muslim country will go through a “REVOLUTION”, kicking out the present “STRONG MAN”, and replace him with another “STRONG MAN”. Usually, when there is a revolution, the present “STRONG MAN”, along with his family, is disemboweled, sodomized, and strung up in the public square, while the new “STRONG MAN” looks on.


19 posted on 06/12/2014 7:29:46 AM PDT by gingerbread
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To: angcat

“No thanks we don’t need anymore dead American troops for this. We need our Military on the borders. “

We won’t lose one American airman’s life.

We have total air superiority and can assist the Iraqis in degrading the Islamists.

And it is absolutely a critical American security interest in not seeing radical Islamist Jihadis controlling Iraq.


20 posted on 06/12/2014 7:32:18 AM PDT by rbmillerjr (Russians to the Left of me, Useful Idiots to the Right...)
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To: SeekAndFind

Why would Obama allow Iraq to be armed when he already armed the other side?


21 posted on 06/12/2014 7:33:49 AM PDT by Ingtar (The NSA - "We're the only part of government who actually listens to the people.")
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To: SeekAndFind

A little late to the party....


22 posted on 06/12/2014 7:43:03 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: PGR88

Yup! Let the God-forsaken place burn. But I wish we could protect the Christians from the slaughter.


23 posted on 06/12/2014 8:01:14 AM PDT by SgtHooper (This is not my tag!)
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To: rbmillerjr

What you suggest requires myriad support personnel on the ground, and then troops on the ground to recon any attacks. And away we go...


24 posted on 06/12/2014 8:04:51 AM PDT by SgtHooper (This is not my tag!)
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To: Gaffer

If we really wanted to keep Iraq out of radical Islamist hands, then we shouldn’t have elected a radical Muslim as President.

***
Yep, even we are now in islamist hands. See my tagline.


25 posted on 06/12/2014 8:10:14 AM PDT by Bigg Red (31 May 2014: Obamugabe officially declares the USA a vanquished subject of the Global Caliphate.)
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To: livius

Precisely.


26 posted on 06/12/2014 8:11:35 AM PDT by Bigg Red (31 May 2014: Obamugabe officially declares the USA a vanquished subject of the Global Caliphate.)
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To: Oldeconomybuyer

+1


27 posted on 06/12/2014 8:12:42 AM PDT by Bigg Red (31 May 2014: Obamugabe officially declares the USA a vanquished subject of the Global Caliphate.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Obama just doesn’t care.


28 posted on 06/12/2014 8:28:56 AM PDT by Steve_Seattle
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To: Gaffer
Please someone tell me who die and left America as the worlds policeman. No were did our founding fathers say we need to mess with the world. In fact I think they said we were to mind our own business.
29 posted on 06/12/2014 8:39:09 AM PDT by lostboy61 (Lock and Load and stand your ground!)
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To: lostboy61

I agree completely. However, when our government insists on keeping up some sort of foreign policy charade, it is incumbent upon it to maintain some sort of decency. Like working to keep its citizens there and elsewhere alive. Nothing this Obama Government has ever done indicates that this is a tenet of its foreign policy.


30 posted on 06/12/2014 8:41:41 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: angcat

Sorry, we are too late!


31 posted on 06/12/2014 8:51:00 AM PDT by upcountryhorseman (An old fashioned conservative)
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To: SeekAndFind

If I was a Kurd, I don’t want to see Iraq reconstituted. The Kurds want their independence.

They want to stay out of the fight between the Arabs. There is an old Kurdish proverb: “the only friend of the Kurds are the mountains.”

That is even more true today.


32 posted on 06/12/2014 9:01:09 AM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: SgtHooper

Absolutely not.

The air attacks can be reconned by both Iraqis and UCAVs and the air bases aren’t located in Iraq.


33 posted on 06/12/2014 9:25:31 AM PDT by rbmillerjr (Russians to the Left of me, Useful Idiots to the Right...)
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To: SeekAndFind

If Saudi Arabia & Kuwait won’t step in why should we?


34 posted on 06/12/2014 9:47:59 AM PDT by Mike Darancette (Do The Math)
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To: goldstategop

A federation is the only way to preserve the country. This was seriously discussed in 2005. Only the Kurds supported it. Both the Shia and Sunnis believed they’d eventually be in control. What we see now is a continuation of their fight for control. Hopefully, they’ll both eventually tire of it and settle for federation. But the Sunnis have hardly any oil in their areas. They will be the outliers.


35 posted on 06/12/2014 10:09:55 AM PDT by Justa
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To: rbmillerjr

I am with you on that as long as we operate from a safe haven.


36 posted on 06/12/2014 2:04:54 PM PDT by SgtHooper (This is not my tag!)
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