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May 2, 2016

Biden Tries to Fix Broken Iraq

An embarrassing visit even if nothing happened afterwards.

Joe Biden’s helicopter touched down at the American Embassy in Baghdad Thursday as America’s second in command made a surprise visit with Iraq’s leaders in an effort to protect the stability of the government. Over the last several weeks, the state of Iraqi politics has deteriorated (who could’ve seen that coming?). Biden’s staff scheduled appointments with Iraqi leaders but reportedly didn’t know if they would be in office by the time Biden could meet with them. The prime minister is weak. The parliament is fractured and notoriously corrupt. It would have been an embarrassing visit for Biden even if nothing happened afterwards. We’ll come back to that.

In 2010, Biden boasted that abandoning Iraq “could be one of the great achievements of this administration.” It was during the time that the Obama administration was peddling its “success” story in Iraq to pave the way for the 2012 campaign narrative. Not only will American troops be gone, the veep promised then, “You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government.”

How’s that working out? On Saturday, hordes of protesters stormed the Iraqi parliament, scrambling over blast walls and entering a room forbidden to the general public for the last 13 years. A state of emergency was declared. Some of the lawmakers went into hiding. Others fled the country. Most of the protesters were goaded by an anti-American Shiite cleric named Moqtada al-Sadr.

And all this is happening while the Islamic State sits a five-hour drive away in Mosul. “Mr. Biden’s diplomatic fly-ins are no substitute for the consistent presence that 5,000 or 10,000 U.S. troops could have provided,” opined The Wall Street Journal. But it gets Biden in the news demonstrating a highly visible (if ineffectual) foreign policy visit to boost his prominence in case Hillary Clinton gets indicted and Democrats need that Biden-Warren ticket to save the day.

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