More Thoughts On Back To Baghdad: Let Obama Speak!

NavyI was Drake’s Island over the last few days staying in a house that sits on the beach facing out into the broad Atlantic ocean. I mention this because recent news events have intersected with my staying there. At a time before this I woke up one morning, looked out toward the sea, and espied this huge object lurking there. It was the Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) sitting in the offing; a majestic sight. It was then engaging in a little bit of frivolity by bringing its namesake on board from his home on Kennebunkport for a visit. That carrier within days will cruise off the shores of Iraq bringing us back into active combat there.

The house adjacent to the one I was staying in has a recently installed flagpole and a plaque at the edge of its property next to the seawall. The plaque is inscribed in memory of Glen Doherty. the Navy Seal from Winchester, MA, who was killed in the attack on Benghazi. The owners of the cottage are men who grew up with him. One I believe served in the Seals with him. They fly the Stars and Stripes in his memory whenever they are there.

Relaxing in Maine with friends I was reminded of our ever ongoing involvement in the quagmire of the Middle East. I wonder if anyone has asked how we plan to get out of Iraq if we get back in. it is clear we plan to insert our Special Operations forces into there to defend those who refuse to defend themselves. The latter situation will attain for all time. Now are we committed to be there forever?

Seeing that our military trainers were unable to train an Iraqi army to stand and fight after ten years and ten billion dollars do we have any hope they will ever be able to accomplish this? And does this also mean that we must stay forever in Afghanistan whose forces we have also trained but who we know in our hearts will run before the Taliban as pollen does the wind. Are we a nation with a Grand Strategy or do we fly fly by the seat of our pants being subject to the whims of any despot?

As Special Operations forces go in, others have come out of the Benghazi area having seized Ahmed Abu Khattala who has been indicted for being involved in the attack that killed Doherty and three other Americans. I will write about that tomorrow. Now I stay with Iraq.

For the last 25 years Obama and his predecessors (Bush, Clinton and Bush) have failed to come up with a coherent foreign policy. With the fall of the Soviet Union we went into neutral and drifted. Our presidents have been average men who surrounded themselves with average men more concerned with the frills of office or the thrills of politics than the hard parts involved in establishing a bipartisan road map. We lurch from crisis to crisis with no plan.

Maybe it’s the nature of the job today to be holding parties, attending fund raisers, meeting celebrities and winning teams, and flitting from one place to another with no time for study and reflection. How long will it be before we see some entering a dancing contest? None has taken the time to come up with a Grand Strategy.

It is not Obama’s fault that we invaded and lost over 4,000 troops in Iraq, a country where the Ming Ling Doctrine told us we never should have entered. Nor did Obama plan and create that ludicrous embassy that sits in the middle of Baghdad (the world’s largest) staffed with over 5,000 Americans (What do they ever do? Certainly they provided no intelligence that the ISIS invasion was coming.) Nor did Obama set the time table for withdrawing our combat forces.

Obama did try to enter into a status of forces agreement with Iraq’s leader Maliki but was rebuffed. Maliki and his allies wanted us out of there. When we left he reached out to people more our enemies than friends, the mullahs of Iran and Bashar al-Assad of Syria, as his allies. He entered into 5 billion dollar deals for arms from Russia.

Now under threat of the ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) he wants us back, Inexplicably Obama is complying with Maliki’s wish. Urged on by those who got us involved in Iraq in the first instance he is putting us back into the fray. Like with his foolhardy plan to fire cruise missiles at Syria, he is now going off half-cocked.

We need him to stop walking in the footsteps of his predecessors. We need him to come up with a Grand Strategy. But first, and right now, we need to hear from him what are his plans. Are we doing this to save Maliki our foe? To protect the oil companies? Whatever the reason he must tell us what is the purpose of this new war and what will be the end result?

3 thoughts on “More Thoughts On Back To Baghdad: Let Obama Speak!

  1. Matt: I’d like for President Obama to adopt a hands-off, wait and see attitude. He should advocate Constructive Military Disengagement from cool spots and tepid spots around the world (such as south Korea, Southeast Asia, China, India, much of Africa, Europe and the Americas.) Decrease both boots on the ground and loafers on the ground; decrease spy forces. Instead, amp up health, environmental, technical and educational aid to needy countries who view us as friendlies. That is: strengthen economies, health, social services, teaching corps; aid countries which like and welcome Americans, thus which welcome our mingling among them as allies, friends and partners, in accordance with Ming Ling’s philosophy as expounded mostly in his students’ military manuals. 2. We’ve learned since ‘Nam that you don’t win hearts and minds by bombing people or spying on them; Read Graham Greene’s The Quiet American. Green had diagnosed the Imperialists’ problems almost 60 years ago, in the 1950s. 3. Obama rightfully intervenes to protect Americans and American Embassy’s, but no attack on an embassy should trigger all out war. Tamper down the rhetoric, all around, and maybe we’ll build a better, more peaceful world.

  2. Confusion reigns supreme. One year ago we were going to bomb Syria on behalf of the rebels of which the ISIS was a part . One year later we are going to attack ISIS. Whose side are we on? Maliki may have arranged this entire fiasco. He intentionally excluded Sunnis from the military. He saw what happened with the coup in Egypt. He knew how Saddam Hussein took power. He wasn’t chancing a repeat performance. Maliki is the democratically elected leader. If the country were to spilt in three he would still be leading the government with the largest population and with substantial oil resources. A Shia alliance with his neighbor Iran would augment his position. Could this combination chase the U S out of the Persian Gulf? America has 5000 troops in Kuwait. If Iran and Iraq were to send 75,000 into the 19th providence could we stop them? Our naval base in Bahrain, which has a majority Shia population could be exposed. Saudi Arabia looks vulnerable. 2. Russia, China and Iran backed the winning side in Syria. We backed the losers. The U S looks completely feckless in Ukraine, thanks to European timidity. The unipolar world of 25 years ago is history. The country is war weary. The same buffoons that led the first charge into Iraq are calling for a second dose. The neo cons have been exposed. A former CIA director said it was too bad that the White was caught off guard by events and didn’t notice that Sunnis and Shia have been fighting each other for 1400 years. If you copy Jimmy Carter and waste billions on windmills and solar panels( thus reducing what can be spent on military hardware) and can’t recognize the relationship between military strength and geo political influence then you end up with what we have. A clueless Administration.

  3. True, that, William

    Obama should sit on his hands, and, watch Iran being drawn into the meat-grinder. Khamenei doesn’t want US help. wa-llahi! That’s swell. Committing Iranian ground troops, in inevitably increasing increments, will put Khamenei in a predicament. Increased conscription for a new Iran/Iraq war will put unbearable stress on Iranian society, enough stress that velayat-a-faqi, rule by the clerics, could be seriously threatened. Up until now, Iran’s been able to use proxies in its foreign military adventures. Things are close to the tipping point. Militias won’t do. Iran will be forced to use units of the Iranian Army and IRG to save Baghdad, and that will be the beginning of the end for the mullahs.

    If anyone is interested in Khamenei’s next move, keep in mind that he graduated from Patrice Lumumba People’s Friendship University.

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