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June 16, 2014

The Real ‘Creeping National Security Crisis’

While Obama frets over global warming, Iraq presents a true threat.

We face “a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform,” Barack Obama told West Point graduates in May. And it’s critical that we address it head on, he said, because “American influence is always stronger when we lead by example.” But he wasn’t talking about Ukraine. And he certainly wasn’t talking about Iraq, which has plunged into total chaos in recent weeks. He was talking about climate change.

Yet Iraq is what’s critical now, and global warming isn’t the cause. The Obama State Department issued a statement recognizing this, saying the U.S. “strongly supports Iraq and its people as they face security challenges from violent extremists.” Unfortunately, the note was left while evacuations from the embassy in Baghdad began over the weekend. Meanwhile, the latest city to fall to the jihadis of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar early Monday. Sunni jihadis boast of having executed hundreds of Shiite Iraqi soldiers. However, the Iraqi military has begun to rally, retaking two towns north of Baghdad and stalling the jihadis’ advance there.

That’s good news in part because Obama essentially told Iraq on Friday they’re on their own, phony messages of strong support notwithstanding. “Any action that we may take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences to promote stability and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities,” he said before heading out for a weekend of golf and fundraising. “We can’t do it for them, so this should be a wake-up call. Iraq’s leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions and compromises. The United States will do our part, but understand that ultimately it’s up to the Iraqis as a sovereign nation to solve their problems.”

That prompted Rush Limbaugh to ask, “Why doesn’t he treat us this way? He presumes to solve every problem in this country. He presumes to create more problems so he can create then more government solutions for problems in this country.”

It seems the administration’s primary plan for dealing with Iraq is to talk to Iran. The U.S. will begin open direct talks with Iran this week to determine what the enemy of our enemy can do to salvage something in Iraq. But the Navy also deployed an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf – the USS George H.W. Bush, of all ships. When Obama fails, send in a Bush?

Kidding aside, George W. Bush has remained admirably silent when it comes to the unfolding crisis. But Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), for one, thinks criticizing Obama is the same as being anti-American. “Some of the biggest GOP cheerleaders for the disastrous war in Iraq are now joining the blame-America-first crowd rather than working with our Commander-in-Chief to confront this crisis,” Boxer said in a statement. She then proceeded to … blame America first. The current crisis “has its roots in an ill-conceived war,” she said. In reality, the complete meltdown happening in Iraq right now has its roots in Obama’s foreign policy malfeasance.

Many analysts warn ISIL presents a serious threat to the U.S. “You’ve got motivation mixed with opportunity, ideology and foreign fighters and all of that looks like a very extreme version of Afghanistan in the ‘90s,” said CBS News National Security Analyst Juan Zarate. “This is a cauldron of future terrorist threats to the West.”

Indeed, this threat is real. Army Col. Kenneth King, who was the commanding officer of a U.S. detention camp in Iraq, said current ISIL head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi told them upon his 2009 release from U.S. custody, “I’ll see you guys in New York.” If Iraq is allowed to become a state run by al-Qaida and its affiliates as Afghanistan was before 9/11, another attack on U.S. soil becomes more likely.

The stunning reversal in Iraq is particularly appalling to U.S. veterans. “You’d be lying if you weren’t sitting at home saying, 'What the hell was that all for?’” fumed one vet. “It’s devastating. Sure, the blood, sweat and tears, but even being away from your family for that long. All the little things that people don’t think about. And you’re saying, ‘For what?’ now.”

From Obama’s perspective, however, there may be a silver lining. Violence in Iraq is causing the price of oil to rise, which, in turn, could mean people drive less. That would be good for combatting global warming, all while supposedly further discrediting his predecessor in Iraq. Perhaps Obama really is achieving his goals after all.

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