President Barack Obama’s foreign policy of “Don’t do stupid s[tuff]” has been turned on its head in Iraq. The stupefying stupidity of our continuing military involvement featuring more than 5,000 American soldiers ranks with our carnival of imbecilities during the Vietnam War.
We have no definition of victory.
We are defending a Shiite government dominated by Iran, at war with Israel, hostile towards Iraqi Kurds, opposed by a NATO ally (Turkey), and brimming with corruption.
Iraq is an artificial country. Its boundaries were drawn a century ago from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire by Great Britain and France eager for the spoils of World War I and wedded to divide-and- conquer. To weaken political opposition, the British drew them to include Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and Turkmen who aligned more with their respective tribes than with the nation.
Britain established an Iraqi monarchy that endured from 1921-1958. The overthrow of King Faisal II in 1958 ushered in a succession of military strongmen until we ousted President Saddam Hussein by military force in 2003.
A unified Iraq is a pipedream without a tyrannical government. Iraq will unravel like Yugoslavia as soon as we depart. It is already half-way there with the Kurdistan Regional Government asserting sovereignty over oil within its boundaries. Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, declared in 2014 that, “[t]he goal of Kurdistan is independence,” and that Iraq was already “effectively partitioned.”
Iraq’s fate, however, is irrelevant to the liberties and welfare of Americans. Just as Otto von Bismarck taught that, “The whole of the Balkans is not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier,” the whole of Iraq is not worth the blood of a single American soldier. Iraq-whether unified or fragmented—will always sell us oil, directly or through middlemen, because of the profit motive. The short-lived embargo on direct oil sales to the United States by the Arab members of OPEC in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War accomplished nothing. Our oil supplies remained undiminished. Oil is an international commodity, and any OAPEC diversion of oil away from the United States to other nations freed up new sources of for us.
The absurdity of our military involvement in Iraq is highlighted by the witches’ brew of forces currently seeking to expel the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from Mosul. Over the objection of Iraqi Shiite Prime Minister Haider al-Abaidi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dispatched Turkish troops to Iraq to participate in the battle for Mosul, to train Iraqi Kurds and Sunni militias for the fight, and to protect Iraqi Turkmen. President Erdogan asserted, “We have a historical responsibility in the region,” and insinuated that changing Iraq’s borders by force was his ambition. Prime Minister al-Abaidi retorted that if Turkish forces intervene they will not “be in a picnic. We are ready for them.” Shiite militias operating independently of the Prime Minister have stated they will also enter the fray in Mosul if Turkey is fighting.
Turkey is overwhelmingly Sunni. Under the Ottoman Empire, Shiites were marginalized or oppressed. Turkey will invariably seek to weaken or destabilize an Iraq dominated by Shiites acting in alliance with Iran. Thus, the battle to oust ISIS from Mosul will be no different than out of the frying pan into the fire. The victors will immediately turn on themselves: Turks and Turkmen against Shiite militias and the Iraq National Army; Sunni militias against Shiite militias, the Iraq National Army, and Kurds; Kurds seeking independence against all. The Battle for Mosul has all the portents of the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu and Black Hawk Down.
The United States stupidly invaded Iraq in March 2003 for the juvenile thrill of flexing our military muscles to intimidate the world. But we also made Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism, stronger by destroying its chief nemesis, Saddam Hussein. Thirteen years after our invasion, we stupidly remain in Iraq without any idea of why we are there beyond killing for the sake of killing.
That is the very definition of stupid stuff that President Obama professedly derides.
He should abide his own words and remove ever American solider from Iraq forthwith. No more Captain Khan tragedies in Baghdad.
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