November 7, 2014

The Price of Obama’s Retreat From Iraq

He now speaks of a “long-term plan” after he blew it three years ago.

This week, Barack Obama announced he will seek bipartisan authority for additional military action against ISIL, saying, “I think it’s too early to say whether we are winning because, as I said at the outset of the ISIL campaign, this is going to be a long-term plan to solidify the Iraqi government, to solidify their security forces.” That “long-term plan” should have been a status of forces agreement (SOFA) back in 2011, but Obama’s 2012 re-election ambitions got in the way.

As Mark Alexander outlined in “Obama’s Iraqi Makeover”:

> “In 2008, Obama campaigned on ‘ending the war in Iraq.’

> "In 2009, he upended our long-term military objectives to establish a forward military operating capability in Iraq in order to maintain stability in a region where we have very critical national interests, and he set a new course for retreat and withdrawal from the region.

> "In 2011, having rejected the Bush strategy of establishing a status of forces agreement (SOFA) to secure our hard-won gains in Iraq and the region, Obama declared, ‘Everything Americans have done in Iraq, all the fighting, all the dying, the bleeding, the building and the training and the partnering, all of it has led to this moment of success. … We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.’

> "In 2012, amid the cascading failure of his domestic economic and social policies, Obama centered his re-election campaign on his faux foreign policy successes crafted around the mantras, ‘Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. I did,” and, “al-Qa'ida is on the run.’”

Meanwhile, Obama seeks help from Iran. The Wall Street Journal reports, “President Barack Obama secretly wrote Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the middle of last month and described a shared interest in fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, according to people briefed on the correspondence. The letter appeared aimed both at buttressing the Islamic State campaign and nudging Iran’s religious leader closer to a nuclear deal. Mr. Obama stressed to Mr. Khamenei that any cooperation on Islamic State was largely contingent on Iran reaching a comprehensive agreement with global powers on the future of Tehran’s nuclear program by a Nov. 24 diplomatic deadline, the same people say.”

Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. Why would it yield to Obama on nuclear weapons or work to fight against the terrorists of ISIL? Obama’s foreign policy is an utter disaster, and that’s surely plain to the mullahs.

And so we’re back to square one.

Predictably, Obama’s “hope and change” strategy in the region left fertile ground for the resurgence of a far more dangerous incarnation of Muslim terrorism under the name Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, which has displaced al-Qa'ida as the dominant asymmetric threat to our national security.

(Read in more detail, “The Rise of the Islamic State.”)

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