- - Friday, June 13, 2014

President Barack Obama has squandered America’s military victory in Iraq, says Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr., California Republican and a former Marine major who served two combat tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

And the squandering of that victory could now lead to wider-than-ever fighting in the Mideast.

“We won the war and it was done,” Mr. Hunter said. “He squandered that military victory for political reasons. This should upset everybody who put a yellow ribbon on their door or put a veterans sticker on their car and everybody who served or had friends or family who served.”

Mr. Hunter made his comments Thursday on “The Ernest Istook Radio Show” on The Washington Times Radio Network.

“Elections have consequences. What you get is the world falling down around our ears and our economy contracting. This is like having a 12-year-old doing your foreign policy,” Mr. Hunter said.

Both Mr. Hunter and another guest on Thursday’s show agreed that new waves of terrorism, including attacks against the American homeland, could be launched with the equipment and assets in Iraq now being seized by al Qaeda affiliate the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known by the initials ISIL and ISIS. And each foresees the unleashing of more violence throughout the Mideast.

Retired Army Col. Steve Bucci on the same program said Iraq could now become a base for launching terrorist assaults. Col. Bucci, a Gulf war veteran, previously commanded a special forces battalion and is now director of the Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy.

“These guys still hate us; ISIS leadership is one of the most vehement offshoots of the al Qaeda offshoots as far as their dislike of the United States,” Col. Bucci said.

Simultaneously, Col. Bucci fears, the terrorist capture of Iraqi cities is an eruption of Sunni versus Shia fighting that “could end up with a civil war that stretches from Syria to Iraq to Iran, might drag in Jordan, might drag in Turkey, and could even go as far as dragging in the other [Persian] Gulf states. This has the potential to be a major, major war, not just a terrorist dust-up.”

Mr. Hunter expressed similar thoughts: “If they [ISIS terrorists] take the entire country, then we … have an entire swath of land from Iran to Syria that is no man’s land and a complete haven for terrorists of all stripes, of al Qaeda, of offshoots of al Qaeda, of just bad guys, of warlords. And you’ll have no American or Western intervention in that whole swath of land.”

The California congressman predicted: “It will be worse than it was before we got there … It is going to be a staging ground for al Qaeda. Iraq is going to be what Afghanistan was before 9/11.”

For this, Mr. Hunter says, “I think the president takes all the blame … It would have taken so little to have prevented this.”

Said Col. Bucci, “They [Obama administration officials] decided it was better for their political capital to cut and run, and they did.”

The current taking of cities and swarms of refugees could have been prevented, Mr. Hunter said, had President Obama left a residual American force of 5,000 troops, “not for combat but logistics and communications.”

Both Mr. Hunter and Col. Bucci said it’s too late for American air power to be fully effective against ISIS, because the time to strike was when they were assembled in pre-attack staging areas. Now they are dispersed within cities where attacking them puts innocent civilians at risk.

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