, Salem, MA


June 24, 2014

Our view: Iraq chaos illustrates the folly of 'nation-building'

The chaos that is roiling Iraq, with an al-Qaida-bred insurgency terrorizing the population, routing what passes for an Iraqi army, capturing cities and threatening Baghdad, has no easy solution.

But it does serve to illustrate the abject failure of certain foreign policy objectives of two U.S. presidential administrations.

President Obama is correct in his assessment that Americans would not support a second invasion of Iraq to quell the insurgency. Instead, the president said 300 military “advisers” will go to Baghdad to assess the situation and counsel the Iraqi government. Students of history will note that this strategy echoes that from a conflict on the other end of Asia 50 years ago.

But President Obama fails to acknowledge that he brought this problem largely on himself. The insurgency known variously as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been waiting in the desert of northern Iraq and western Syria for U.S. troops to leave. Now that the troops have departed and the Iraqi government has shown its own weakness, the terrorists have free rein.

The Taliban is waiting for its moment to do the same in Afghanistan. Yet, the administration persists in its plan to leave just around 1,000 American troops in that country by the end of 2014.

Obama and his supporters are quick to blame President George W. Bush for all his troubles in Iraq. Yet the president forgets that as recently as 2010, his vice president was touting Iraq as the administration’s biggest success story.

“You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer,” Vice President Joe Biden said on “Larry King Live” in 2010. “You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government.”

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