June 20th, 2014

How bad must it be in Iraq…

…if Obama sends 300 advisors there?

Think about it. As James Oliphant points out—in a piece which indicates that the writer would answer “fool” to the knave vs. fool question—”the move is a tacit acknowledgment that many of the assumptions that Obama and his foreign policy team made about the world have proven to be incorrect.”

Obama doesn’t like to backtrack or admit he was wrong about anything. He’s certainly not explicitly doing the latter, but he is explicitly doing the former, and it implies the latter. It is particularly significant that he’s doing it in an arena where, as Oliphant observes, “Iraq was a box that his administration had checked.”

Oliphant is assuming that Obama wanted things to stay stable and peaceful in Iraq. And although, unlike Oliphant, I would answer that “knave vs. fool” question “both,” I agree with him. Whatever Obama’s long-term strategic goals around the world (and I think we can agree that one thing they involve is taking America down a peg or two), he cannot have wanted to face intense public pressure to do something about an Iraq that’s collapsing despite his having declared it relatively peaceful and promising under his watch just a couple of short years ago.

And it’s ironic that he might have prevented this had he been more serious about negotiating a SOFA and leaving several thousand troops there. He still could have taken credit for taking most of the troops out, and for leaving an Iraq that was at least somewhat stable. My guess is that in this case he really believed that Iraq would not blow up under his watch, and that he could have his withdrawal cake and eat it too. I wonder if any of his advisors warned him against thinking that way, and if so which ones.

25 Responses to “How bad must it be in Iraq…”

  1. Holmes Says:

    It mirrors what he/Hillary did in Libya though- just hit and run while wishing them all good luck, it’s none of our business don’t ya know? He’d rather foreign affairs be nothing but ceremonies and meeting exotic despots so he can focus on his real change project here at home, of course.

  2. blert Says:

    He’s getting pressure from Valerie girl and the Iranians.

    What he’s throwing into the pot is our overhead assets.

    Iraq has essentially no air force, no recce.

    Further, telecom links through the Sunni zone are compromised. Barry can replace them with airborne assets. (Drones are configured as data-com repeaters, too.)

    Providing live aerial TV is something that would multiply the strength and stiffen the resolve of the Shi’ites.

    &&&

    Maliki has to go. He’s a loser.

    Don’t forget his screaming matches with General Petraeus. They all turned on how Maliki wouldn’t see the light, wouldn’t offer any balm to the Sunni clans.

    This dim bulb never took hold of the idea that without Baghdad stipends, every last Sunni would turn to crime and warfare.

    Petraeus didn’t bring the Sunnis around so much as he rented their loyalty — a common concept in Araby.

    Maliki never learned a basic lesson in politics: the hand you cannot bite, you must kiss.

    For sure as shooting, the Gulf Sunnis would bankroll the Iraqi Sunnis.

    BTW, most (Iraqi) Kurds are Sunnis, too. (+ a big dollop of Shia, as well… it’s complicated.)

    It should be plain to everybody by this time that the Kurds are aligned with Ankara. (What a sea change from 1991!)

    The Kurds in Syria are aligned with Assad. Both factions are trying to find a strong horse to defend themselves against Arab Sunnis.

    ISIS/ISIL is NOT popular. They are certain to wear out their welcome. But for the moment, Maliki has given ISIS the keys to a kingdom.

    Even Sistani sees that Maliki is at the end of his road — and doesn’t know how to park.

    The man has been give a vote of no confidence.

    Something like that is awaiting Barry this November. He’s chasing Whites out of the Democrat party — and bleeding its coffers dry.

    No new Democrat politicians want to even attempt a campaign with such headwinds.

    BTW, the economy is shrinking. The only thing really holding the house up is the paint job. The nails are gone.

    And in other news, the Bakken keeps growing with success. New horizons are now paying off (the drilling expense) in less than nine months. After that, it’s all gravy.

    So they’re drilling like maniacs in southern Canada.

  3. J.J. Says:

    if you believe that all cultures are essentially similar. If you believe that the Muslims are just another religious group like the Jews and Christians. If you believe that you can always make a deal with your opponents. If you believe that the Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds can sit down and jaw, jaw to work out their differences in Iraq. If you believe that the hatred of the Islamists for the West is a result of the West’s intransigence. If you believe that the West can win over the Islamists by being fair and nice. If you believe that no one can possibly threaten you because of your awesome economy. If you believe having a strong military is acting like a bully. If you believe all those things, then your foreign policy might look a lot like Obama’s.

  4. Ann Says:

    The only close advisor Obama had who might have been for keeping a substantial military presence in Iraq was Rahm Emmanuel. He is well hated by the left not only for supporting the war in Iraq but for opposing Obamacare. But he was around only until 2010.

  5. Ymarsakar Says:

    So he’s going to get how many more people killed?

  6. Ray Says:

    Obama is surrounded by sycophants Who tell him he is the smartest person in the room. Unfortunately, that is probably true.

  7. rubber-ducky Says:

    I just hope that they are the “advisors” of the Studies and Observation Group type…

    Happy hunting!

  8. parker Says:

    The supreme narcissist in chief is turning and turning in the widening gyre. He can only turn to VJ and Soros to run the show, while engaging in putt-putt and spades with Reggie. Some neo-punk band needs to record a song about barry the pot/coke head dancing in a bath house while DC burns…. it would go viral.

  9. Lizzy Says:

    So he refused Al Maliki’s requests (unmanned)drone support while the ISIL forces were coalescing, but now that it’s completely out of control (and they’ve acquired a lot of the US-provided equipment) we’re sending in 300 advisors to be slaughtered.
    Brilliant.

    *And you know these guys are aware that there is no hope of rescue should they be cornered or kidnapped.

  10. rubber-ducky Says:

    If they are tier 1 guys, they won’t be slaughtered or stranded. Equipment does not make the warrior, its the heart.

  11. Lizzy Says:

    True, rubber-ducky. Depends on what kind of advisors they are.

    Also, Obama might actually appreciate them being kidnapped so that he can do a Gitmo prisoner swap.

    I just don’t know what to think any more – all of my assumptions about what is right, and what motivates Obama seem to be off.

  12. southpaw Says:

    Wouldn’t be surprised if he sent meeting coordinators and social workers, to discuss integration of homosexuals and transgender soldiers into their armed forces, to strengthen diversity.
    Or even a contingency of academics and psychologists to engage the ISIS fellows in some spirited debates, open their minds, and manage their anger and hostility?
    Napoleon brought the savants to invade Egypt, Obama will send the Idiot Savants for a chat.

  13. rubber-ducky Says:

    The CIC has a hard on for the tier 1 guys – because their success is HIS success. Anything that allows him to gain points, he’ll do. But at the end of the day, he has plenty to blame for any failures, including Bush – and he’ll find out about any disaster when we do.

  14. kaba Says:

    If close advisors to Obama tell him something that he doesn’t want to hear will they continue as close advisors? My guess is that although they’ll probably not get fired they will become marginalized and removed from the inner circle. I don’t imagine anyone is around Obama long who doesn’t tell him exactly what he wants to hear.

  15. Mike Says:

    I thought we had settled Obama is both knave and fool. It is possible, isn’t it?

    He’s in Iraq for the sole reason that he does not lose whatever political power he has so that he can further destroy America.

    If one takes as the operating presupposition that Obama singular goal is to destroy America, everything is understandable. He cannot go too fast in doing so – or it won’t happen. He is going at the pace he thinks is possible.

    He is such a monumental %ss, however that he is too stupid to know how stupid he is; and he cannot believe that “Iraq” is acting up o him.

    Obama is both knave and fool. All Democrats without exception at this point are knaves. Not all are fools. But he is the only one who is President so he is in a special category. If there might never be a Democrat President again that would either a) be the best news America has had since its founding; b) mean that Obama really succeeded and there were no Presidents of any party

  16. Oldflyer Says:

    Two items of interest today. If it were not so serious it would be funny.

    The State Department is reaching out to Ahmed Chalabi. Powell, Armitage and crew torpedoed the idea of Chalabi forming the interim Iraqi government after Hussein fell. Chalabi intended to keep vetted military, police and bureaucrats in place for stability. Instead we put Bremer in to run a U.S. interim Dictatorship, and chaos followed.

    Bush finally dumped Brmer and brought in Crocker, Petraeus and a surge of troops to put it right.

    Then, Obama happened.

    The same report reveals that Obama is now reaching out to the Sunni tribal leaders who Crocker, Petraeus and crew co-opted in 2007/2008; and Obama abandoned in 2011.

    If this were a comic strip it would be named Bizzaro. Oh, that is taken already.

  17. Beverly Says:

    One of the supermarket tabloids (the National Enquirer?) had a front-page cover of Obama looking wicked, and asking in headline type if he was a “TRAITOR” for releasing the 5 Gitmo terrorist leaders for a deserter.

    I suspect the Zero Admin. pays more attention to that than they do to the Congress. Gotta keep those low-info voters happy.

  18. Beverly Says:

    Anyone else angry with Bush for his moral vanity?

    For that’s what it is, when you put your “Christian humility” and gentlemanlike conduct ahead of the welfare of your nation and the defense of her policies and her armed forces as the Commander in Chief and President.

    Bush should have fought back against all the lies. It wasn’t about HIM, after all: they were attacking him as the representative of US. In refusing to fight the Left, he didn’t defend us.

    And it really chaps my hide that he STILL refuses to speak out in America’s defense.

  19. Matt_SE Says:

    @Beverly

    Good point, and I felt the same way when Condi Rice wouldn’t punch back after being dis-invited to speak at that graduation.

    OTOH, Mitt Romney stubbornly refuses to go away. I wish he would go away, and I even agree with him on many things.

    I’m not sure Bush would be listened to no matter what he said, and his presence would instead be another source of irritation.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    Bush should have fought back against all the lies.

    And what did Americans do to deserve a leader that fought back against lies? Most of America shut the hell up when they were charged with racism.

    A leader of a nation is what that nation deserves. So it was for 2001 and so it was for 2009.

  21. Ymarsakar Says:

    First it was Tyrant Lincoln that did too much, now it is Bush II that people refused to vote in as dictator and proconsul doing too little.

    Humans are truly looking for scapegoats these centuries.

  22. Ymarsakar Says:

    People are “angry” at safe celebrities to blame the same way Leftists worship Hollywood. It’s displacement and projection, defending their mind from a Power they know they cannot contest.

  23. Eric Says:

    Beverly: “Bush should have fought back against all the lies.”

    I wish Bush had done more, too, for the simple reason that more needed to be done in the activist propaganda contest. However, where I disagree with you is that the responsibility for doing more in terms of PR/propaganda belonged to the President.

    This goes to the common failure by the people of the Right in subscribing to fantasies of magical messianic savior Republicans in elected office, when actually, the extra-duty tasks you call for them to perform rightfully belong to the people acting from an activist social movement. That’s how the Left does it. Obama is credited for much that actually has been carried through by the Left activist social movement rather than by Obama’s own faculties.

    Bush’s speeches were better and more substantive than he’s credited. As much as a President reasonably can do, Bush did what he said he would do as a war-time President. He said what needed to be said.

    Do I wish Bush had fought the PR/propaganda fight better? Sure. But going mud wrestling with activist propaganda isn’t the President’s job. That’s the people’s job. Obama has the Left activist movement to do that kind of work. Bush then and the Right now needs such an activist movement, too.

  24. Eric Says:

    Oldflyer,

    I agree with you the what-if is maddening. From what I gather from speaking with OIF veterans and Iraqis, and the general sense from different reports is that there was indeed a ‘golden hour’ immediately following the regime change and before the insurgency took off where different decisions might have made a radical difference in the course of events.

    For example:
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/24/the_iraq_red_team?page=0,1

    Michael Gordon, NY Times, reports that a faction of officers and diplomats pushed for a rudimentary COIN strategy years before the COIN “Surge”, but were rejected in favor of giving more time to the civilian-led Coalition Provisional Authority. In other words, counterinsurgency was the emergency back-up plan for Iraq when it should have been the starting strategy for the post-war occupation.

    That said, I’m more forgiving of Paul Bremer than you are for three reasons.

    One, extreme failure and steep learning curves are a normal part of our military history. Failing before the COIN “Surge” set right the mission falls in line with past wars where we lost before we won. Despite everything, we had turned the corner in Iraq by 2011. What’s rarer in our military is giving away our victories after learning to win, as Obama did with Iraq.

    Two, I heard Bremer speak in person in 2003, a few months before he took over the CPA. He knew his stuff and anticipated the challenges in Iraq. However, from what I gather from friends who served in OIF I, the CPA had a plan and generated policies in the Green Zone that looked good on paper but weren’t actionable on the ground, at least at that point of the mission.

    On the specific issue of “Chalabi intended to keep vetted military, police and bureaucrats in place for stability”, we might all be over-estimating the state of the human-resources infrastructure in Iraq at the time.

    See Dale Franks at QandO discuss the issue in 2005:
    http://www.qando.net/details.aspx?Entry=2951

    Bremer also intended to bring back government employees after vetting. It’s hard to tell how much of his failure to execute is due to the CPA process, how much was due to lack of qualified Iraqi personnel, and how much was due to the insurgency exploiting a gap.

    You know, maybe a reason Saddam believed he needed WMD was that Iraq’s Army had repeatedly proven to be unreliable vs the Israelis, Iran, and us. Besides invading Kuwait, did the Iraq military actually ever win?

    Three, the military didn’t want to take the lead in the post-war occupation. The Army that entered Iraq in 2003 was still the Army I grew up in, and our philosophy was that we were war-fighters. Which means the post-war was someone else’s job. We might assist in limited, defined roles in the post-war, but we wouldn’t run the show.

    As Gordon reported, there might have been a rudimentary, proto-COIN strategy option that was set aside in favor of the CPA in the beginning. But I’m also not surprised that the CPA option had to be used up first in order for the military-led COIN option to be tried. The needs of the mission in Iraq had to become urgent enough to overcome the Powell Doctrine mindset. Even today, many Army leaders are opposed to counterinsurgency becoming more than an ad hoc doctrine that’s best avoided altogether.

  25. Eric Says:

    Fix: What’s rarer in our military history is giving away our victories after learning to win, as Obama did with Iraq.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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