“If [the Iraqis] are not willing to fight for the security of their country, we cannot do that for them,” Barack Obama declared again, though he reiterated his commitment to helping train Iraqi troops over a “multi-year” period. According to State Department official and Islamic State expert Brett McGurk, “It’s a three-year campaign to degrade the organization.” And as National Journal puts it, “Three years marked from mid-2014, of course, falls after Jan. 20, 2017, the date Obama leaves office. Translation: The strategy is to avoid sending ground troops for the remainder of his term. So stop asking.” Indeed, Obama campaigned in 2008 on ending the Iraq war. 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.” And a narcissist can’t admit he’s wrong. He’s going to stubbornly stand pat, keep declaring victory, and leave the Islamic State for the next commander in chief to clean up.
Indeed, his spokesman Josh Earnest explicitly said just that: “In 2017, there will be a new commander in chief and someone else who will have a responsibility to evaluate the situation on the ground and determine what steps are necessary to continue to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. That’s something that we’ll leave to the next president.” But what will the next 18 months bring?