—abhors a vacuum.
And so Iran rushes in where Obama fears to tread:
U.S. and senior Iraqi officials tell The Daily Beast that Iran is now offering the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki its army, its spies and highly trained irregular units from its revolutionary guard corps to root out the Sunni insurgency that now threatens Baghdad. Gen. Qassem Solaimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, arrived in Baghdad last week with an entourage of military advisers to begin preparations for such a counter-offensive. A member of the Quds Force has already allegedly been killed fighting in Iraq…
Lukman Faily, Iraq’s ambassador to Washington, in an interview declined to discuss any specifics of the Iranian offer to Maliki’s government. But he did say that his government faced a desperate choice.
“We face an existential threat ourselves. We cannot coexist with ISIS,” he said. “Unfortunately, when people are desperate, they will take desperate measures.”
He added, “We will go to whomever we can partner with to deal with the immediate threat.”
Meanwhile, while Iran gets to work, Obama gets out his irons:
The White House said Obama received regular briefings on the worsening crisis in Iraq during his golf weekend. “The president directed [National Security Adviser Susan Rice] to continue to keep him apprised of the latest developments,” said spokesman Josh Earnest, “as his national security team continues to meet through the weekend to review potential options.”…
“He has got to know our allies are sitting there saying, ‘Has this guy got the chops? Is he strong?’ ” says former top George W. Bush aide Karl Rove, just returned from a trip to Europe. “And for him to hold a news conference saying he’s thinking about what to do in Iraq and then head off for a weekend of fundraisers and golf – does he think this escapes international view?”
To answer Rove’s question: no, he doesn’t think this escapes international view. In fact, there is a good possibility that it is an intentional message to the nations involved in the Iraq mess that he is deeply, deeply disengaged and will do very little about it.
Don’t expect to see the MSM criticizing Obama for it, though. The NY Times coverage is typical—a lengthy 25-paragraph article where in the second paragraph there’s an oblique non-golfing reference to Obama’s California sojourn (“the White House’s emphasis, when Mr. Obama returns to Washington on Monday from a weekend in Southern California, will be on prodding Iraq’s leaders to form a new national unity government”) and the fact that he’s playing golf isn’t even mentioned until paragraph 13, and then in a very neutral way (see also this, essentially the same treatment).
Contrast with Bush, who was heavily criticized in 2002 for making a statement about an Israeli terrorist attack while on the golf course, and who in 2003 called an unannounced halt to his golf-playing in time of war.
Of course, we’re not at war anymore, says Obama. But war is interested in him.