Yesterday, Eli Lake breathlessly weighed Nouri al-Maliki’s request for American air strikes to assist in the battle against ISIS that his army appears unwilling to fight. Today, jonesing for more war with Jihadists, he and Tim Mak report that “if Obama changes his mind, U.S. jets could be flying over Iraq in less than a day”:
U.S. air bases, housing dozens of American fighters and bombers, are well within striking distance of Iraq. High-flying spy drones like the Global Hawk can just as easily fly over Iraq as Afghanistan or any other conflict zone in the region. The aircraft carrier U.S.S. George H.W. Bush is a few days’ sail away, in the North Arabian Sea. And it boasts dozens more fighters on board.
That’s why a number of retired high-ranking U.S. Air Force officers, including Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who served as the Air Force’s first deputy chief of staff for intelligence, say any strikes, if ordered, could begin almost immediately. “If you can provide me with the appropriate intelligence we can start doing (air strikes) within 24 hours,” he told The Daily Beast. “There are a variety of means do this, whether you are talking about long-range, high-payload aircraft or smaller aircraft. With the requisite intelligence information you can start again in 24 hours.”
Mercifully, the piece includes some warnings about the unintended consequences of deciding to “re-enter the Iraq War.” Even McCain and Butters are leery of air-strikes, which would sink the US right back into the Iraqi quicksand.
Reihan, meanwhile, has the great idea to see what the architects of the original Iraq catastrophe would have us do, because Ken Pollack and the Kagans – yes, the Kagans! – are still the “experts” we should defer to. He manages to shoe-horn in some Scowcroft while he’s at it, but never addresses the fact that Maliki and the American people were deeply opposed to the occupation continuing, that no protections were even given to US soldiers in such a scenario, and, more crucially, that if our leverage with 100,000 troops had failed to sway Maliki, why would a few hundred be salient now – especially since he has become rightly despised by his Sunni enemies?
In case anyone believed that the right had learned anything from Iraq, the editors at NRO also come out strongly in favor of re-entering the war they helped start:
Maliki needs help now, and the U.S. needs to give it to him. The Obama administration, asked about the country’s impending collapse, noted that it has sent Maliki a few hundred missiles, some rifles, and lots of ammunition. It’s possible ISIS will overextend itself, but all the ammunition in the world may not be enough for the Iraqi army, such as it is, to retake the cities ISIS controls and stamp out the insurgency.
The Iraqi government has a long list of weapons and support it needs. The U.S. ought to meet those requests, at least. The Maliki government may need U.S. advisory support — and possibly even other measures — to stop ISIS’s advance and retake the cities that have been overrun. This is anathema to the Obama administration: It much prefers handwringing to intervention. But deliberation now (not unlike in Syria) will allow the Islamists to solidify their position and amplify their influence.
The Iraqi government has a 250,000 strong army, trained and equipped by the US. But sectarianism meant that, when it came to the defense of Mosul, most of them took off their uniforms and joined the ISIS brigade.Do these delusional partisans actually believe that “advisory support” can somehow reverse this core dynamic?
George Will sums up the position of the right-wing id:
The president is in fact implementing the foreign policy he promised. It was entrenchment by one word, retreat by another. He is implementing the foreign policy that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton facilitated without expressing any qualms. He is implementing a policy that the American public has said in polls it wants right now. It wants it at least until it gets queasy by looking at the pictures they have been seeing tonight.
And one might think an alleged Tory like Will would understand the futility of trying to control an endless sectarian civil war in a country we neither understand fully or could control while occupying with 100,000 troops. But what’s conservative coherence worth when you can bash Obama so easily? In Malkin Award-worthy screed, Robert Tracinski does Will one better and proclaims that Obama wanted America to fail:
So were the Democrats right? Was Iraq a lost cause, inevitably, all along? There’s one big problem with this narrative: Iraq has fallen apart on President Obama’s watch, as a consequence of his own policy of willful neglect. I would say that this was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but that doesn’t quite seem to cover it. Instead, I would characterize this as a wish-fulfilling prophecy. If Iraq is falling to al-Qaeda, it’s because this administration deliberately chose to throw away the victory handed to them by George W. Bush. The left thought we should have lost the war in Iraq, they wanted us to lose it—and finally they’re getting the outcome they wanted.
Yes, the Iraq War was a victory. How on earth did we manage to forget that?
My first take on the debate over whether to re-intervene in Iraq is here.