Iraq War

The Iraq War Never Ended

U.S. mulling more troops, new base, "complete" strategy

|

Wikipedia

News this morning reports the Obama administration is considering* sending up to 500 additional U.S troops to Iraq, for training, naturally, as well as opening up a new military base in Anbar. U.S. forces largely, but not completely, withdrew from Iraq in 2011 per a status of forces agreement negotiated between Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Bush that President Obama tried and failed to renegotiate for a later withdrawal date. While Obama spent the 2012 presidential campaign taking credit for ending the war in Iraq, when the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) began wreaking havoc in the country last year, Obama distanced himself from the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, saying it wasn't the decision he wanted.

U.S. combat troops and trainers left Iraq in December 2011, but left behind a Marine embassy guard attachment for the U.S. embassy in Baghdad—the largest in the world—and up to 5,000 private military contractors for security and training purposes. Notably, Congress never revoked the authorization for the use of military force in Iraq it passed in 2002, although the Obama administration hasn't found it necessary to invoke since sending troops back to Iraq in 2014. Instead, current military action against ISIS falls under "Operation Inherent Resolve," which the administration claims is covered by the 2001 authorization for the use of military force against Al-Qaeda and associated forces, passed in the wake of Al Qaeda's September 11 terrorist attacks. The Obama administration has sought a new, what it says is limited, authorization for the use of military force against ISIS. Congress appears interested neither in passing such authorization nor in stopping the actions that authorization is supposed to retroactively apply to.

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) compared the possible decision to send 500 more U.S. troops to the 3,000 already in Iraq to the Vietnam war. "This is exactly how Vietnam started," he told reporters this morning. "If you don't think you're putting them in harm's way, you're not living in the real world." How far removed from the real world is President Obama, whose decision it's been to send troops back to Iraq and who is deciding now whether to send more? He admitted at a press conference Monday that the U.S. didn't "yet have a complete strategy" to fight ISIS, a statement The New York Times described as "jarring honesty." Obama blamed a lag in commitment from Iraqis and a lack of cooperation from Turkey. As The Times noted, Obama's defense secretary, Ashton Carter, previously said the Iraqis had shown "no will to fight." Government forces are regularly defeated by smaller extremist forces, and thousands of fighters have left the anti-ISIS coalition over U.S. participation. The Times noted, correctly, that without regional cooperation "no American strategy, no matter how brilliantly drawn, will save them." It goes deeper than that, as the incompleteness problem illustrates.

An American strategy may, by definition, be unable to save the region from ISIS because it can only save itself by itself. As Nick Gillespie wrote last month, the U.S. "won't help fix all the problems in the world until it realizes that it can't fix all the problems in the world." With a year and a half left in his presidency, it's not too late for President Obama to come to that realization and to act on it in a way that could have a lasting, positive effect, on regional security, by removing the U.S. from the anti-ISIS equation and thus robbing it of a powerful tool to keep its organization in place and its opponents from cooperating, stepping up and defending themselves.

*This afternoon the president reportedly decided to send the additional troops.

NEXT: Who Knows More About McKinney: An Eyewitness, or Sean Hannity?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. “ARMY TRAINERS, SIR!”

      /paraphrasing Bill Murray in Stripes

      1. “THAT’S THE FACT, JACK!”

        1. “BLLLLLLOWN UP, SIR!”

  1. Oh boy….

  2. Remember that time President Obama downplayed the growing threat of ISIS in 2012 because there was an election coming up and the media just went along with it?

    Whatever. It’s probably just another “Kinetic Military Action” and not a war, anyway. Nothing to see here, people…

    1. I’m going to let you in on a secret: Obama is absolutely thrilled with what’s going on. He wants the see radical Islamist terrorists take over the entire region. He prefers the Shiites (probably due to the influence of Valerie “The Svengali” Jarrett), but Sunni terrorists will do as well.

      This silly 500 troop thing is all a public show to trick the average dumb schmuck into thinking otherwise.

      1. He wants the see radical Islamist terrorists take over the entire region.

        To what purpose? I think it is more a case of incompetence.

        1. And apathy. Obama’s goal was the transformation of America. He really didn’t want to be involved in the rest of the world beyond withdrawing from Bush’s mistakes.

        2. To what purpose?

          Well, I suspect his anti-colonialism. He wants Western powers, especially the US (and, one suspects, Israel), out of the Middle East, and if that means it gets taken over by the worst scum on the planet, well, that’s OK by him.

          The remarkably stupid thing about Obama is that he tries to overlay Western politics on the ME. What matters in the ME is the never-ending, 900 year old war between Sunnis and Shiites. If he just has to stick his dick into ME (and apparently he does), the only rational way to pick a side, is to pick the Sunnis or the Shiites. Anything else is just going to lead you to the kind of idiocy we see now, where we are simultaneously flying air support for Iran in one country, and trying to kill them in another.

          1. Have a hard time buying this theory. Incompetence/lack of an underlying philosophy and goal seems much more likely.

            Anti-colonialism? Might do a lot less intervening if that was the case

            1. I never said he was a competent anti-colonialist.

              I just think its still swimming around in his murky, Red Diaper Baby brain, is all.

        3. 450 is a strange number when you think about it, Not enough for a mission ready detach of a full company.
          Patchwork and piecemeal isn’t effective use of force.

      2. Um. Okay. I can’t tell if this is serious or a troll.

        Good job?

  3. DON’T TALK ABOUT THE WAR!

    1. Basil Fawlty: Is there something wrong?
      German Guest: Will you stop talking about the war?
      Basil Fawlty: Me? You started it.
      German Guest: We did not!
      Basil Fawlty: Yes, you did. You invaded Poland

      1. One of the greatest comedy lines of all time.

  4. [REDACTED]

    /Donald Rumsfeld

    1. Rumsfeld…that’s a….GERMAN name, isn’t it?

      You know who else of Germanic origin was a bit of a warmonger….

      1. Frederick the Great?

        1. Kaiser Wilhelm?

      2. George the Third?

      3. Vercingetorix? No wait he was French, nevermind…

      4. Ragnar Lo?brok?

      5. Adolf Hit…

        …no, wait, he’s not of Germanic origin, he’s Australian. My mistake.

        1. Fosters!

          1. G’day, mate!

      6. Dr. Strangelove?

      7. Martin Luther.

  5. Vietnam Redux: send in the trainers; trainers get attacked by Viet Cong; send in troops to protect trainers; troops become sitting ducks, send in air force to make proactive assaults against guerillas; air fields get attacked, send in more troops; troops get attacked, ah fuck it, let’s just go to war.

    Can someone get me a Red Sea Resolution?

  6. An American strategy may, by definition, be unable to save the region from ISIS because it can only save itself by itself.

    Just wait until ol’ “It Takes A Village” is running the show. 8-(

  7. I blame Bush.

    1. Well, he did drive Iraq onto a ditch.

      1. Exactly.

      2. Why do we keep handing the keys to these Republicans? They keep driving stuff into ditches! I thought we were taking away the keys and making them sit in back of the bus, so that we can drive stuff into ditches!

        /the demotards

    2. I blame homo sapiens. If they had just not exterminated the Neanderthals, we’d be so much better off now.

  8. Its so easy to start a war, it only takes one side to do it

    Its so hard to stop a war, it takes all sides to do it.

    1. Oooh, that’s very good.

  9. Withdrawal Symptoms: The Bungling of the Iraq Exit (link) by OIF senior advisor Rick Brennan.

    How Obama Abandoned Democracy in Iraq (link) by OIF official and senior advisor Emma Sky.

    1. Saddam: What We Now Know (link) by Jim Lacey* draws from the Iraq Survey Group (re WMD) and Iraqi Perspectives Project (re terrorism).

      Explanation (link) of the law and policy, fact basis for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    2. How Obama Abandoned Democracy in Iraq

      Why should he care about Democracy in Iraq?, he doesn’t care about it here, or about a Republic either.

  10. Hasn’t the bringer of peace, who rolled back the rising seas and then walked on the water, stopped this war yet? Oh, I forgot, he wants to but Republicans won’t let him.

    1. President Obama has launched more cruise missiles than all previous Nobel Peace Prize winners put together.

      1. He can seemingly do anything else that he wants without congressional approval, no matter if the president has been afforded that authority or not.

        But the one thing that the president does have authority for, being the commander in chief, he doesn’t seem to be able to do, because he’s not a king you know.

        Go figure.

  11. So do people really think that the only reason the Iraqi soldiers are dropping their shit and running is because they’re insufficiently trained? What training are they lacking, after 10+ years of training? Did we forget to run them through sexual harassment training?

    1. double secret probation training

    2. They do, which is absurd. There were a lot of Iraq war vets on the radio this morning and most of them seemed to feel that if we just really committed we could turn the tide. I’d say a decade plus, a trillion dollars, and several thousand casualties is enough commitment. If the Iraqi’s don’t want to embrace democracy and fight for their country, then to hell* with them.

      *Of course, by no means interpret this to mean that I have the power, means, or intention of actually sending anyone to hell.

      1. Kicking the shit out of ISIS won’t turn the tide on decades of poor policy. I’m not a Cold War apologist, but our foreign policy still has the myopic view. They all suck, as long as they sell their resources (don’t threaten the world economy) or export state sponsored terrorism they can live in the 14th century till the end of time as far as I’m concerned.

  12. “Congress appears interested neither in passing such authorization nor in stopping the actions that authorization is supposed to retroactively apply to.”

    Co-equal branch of government!

    In all seriousness, what does it mean when the executive does something unlawful that is unreviewable by the courts and the legislature doesn’t bother doing anything about it?

    1. What does it mean?

      It means we live in a banana republic, with Maximum Jefe and courts and a legislature that are mostly decorative.

      1. It means we live in a banana republic, with Maximum Jefe and courts and a legislature that are mostly decorative.

        But only until the Death Star is complete, at which time fear, fear of this battle station will keep the unruly states in line…

        1. This Death Star? I hope so. It doesn’t look too bad….

  13. A few troops here, a few troops there … is there any possible scenario in which this ends well?

  14. “W” was accused of having or using a White Paper drawn up years before that planned for the invasion of Iraq. Okay! Contingency plans can be useful. Who knows if there were other, alternative strategeries as well. But now! Six years into befuddlement we have not much going on in the mind of the leader of the free-and-getting-less-free-world. Why is that? Learning curve too steep? Or has he dispatched all the great military minds who may actually be able to contribute a cogent thought to retiement? It doesn’t matter. Another Obaummer fail.

  15. “This is exactly how Vietnam started,…”

    Hey look an optimist! Vietnam didn’t start with a 10+ year war costing $3+trillion. I don’t remember ending the Vietnam war in ’75 and then sending 500 troops back to North Vietnam to establish a military base in ’77. No sir, this is much more foolish and expensive than Vietnam was.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.