Iraq continues to melt down. Kurdish peshmerga have seized the city of Kirkuk. Kirkuk has long been a point of contention between the Iraqi government and the Kurd minority because it was originally Kurdish, depopulated and recolonized by Arabs under Saddam Hussein, and it is the center of Iraq's northern oil producing region. Mosul, which feel earlier in the week to ISIS, is the capital of Nineveh Province, a region Turkey feels was unfairly carved from it in the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920. Iran has announced it is sending Revolutionary Guards to Mosul which is bound to impress neither the Kurds, whose territory they will pass through, or the Turks.
This entire mess can be laid at the feet of two people: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
As we noted yesterday, the proximate cause of the current crisis was the callous disregard of Obama and Clinton for US interests in Iraq. Obama set about to treat Prime Minister al-Maliki with calculated contempt. The effort to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement and continued American military presence was given over to a man who was focused on throwing the wood to any woman within reach. In 2009, we released the man who is now commanding ISIS. And, thanks to Obama's efforts to arm al Qaeda terrorists in Syria to overthrow Bashir al-Assad, we have now armed al Qaeda terrorist in Iraq.
Perhaps the only guy who thought things were going well in Iraq as Joe Biden:
I am very optimistic about -- about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You're going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You're going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government.
I spent -- I've been there 17 times now. I go about every two months -- three months. I know every one of the major players in all the segments of that society. It's impressed me. I've been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences.
Now other information coming out is equally damning of Obama's ineffable indifference to American security concerns and foreign policy:
As the threat from Sunni militants in western Iraq escalated last month, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki secretly asked the Obama administration to consider carrying out airstrikes against extremist staging areas, according to Iraqi and American officials.
But Iraq’s appeals for a military response have so far been rebuffed by the White House, which has been reluctant to open a new chapter in a conflict that President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011.
The swift capture of Mosul by militants aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has underscored how the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have converged into one widening regional insurgency with fighters coursing back and forth through the porous border between the two countries. But it has also called attention to the limits the White House has imposed on the use of American power in an increasingly violent and volatile region.
So last month the Iraqis requested US aid to forestall this offensive and Obama told them to FOAD. This sounds very similar to how the Democrats treated South Vietnamese request for airstrikes in 1975.
As Abba Eban said of the the Arabs, "they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity," we can say the same of Barack Obama. Having squandered chance after chance after chance to lock in the victory that was handed to him on a silver platter in 2009, he is now looking a disaster of his own making in the face and contemplating military action:
Less than three years after pulling American forces out of Iraq, President Barack Obama is weighing a range of short-term military options, including airstrikes, to quell an al-Qaida inspired insurgency that has captured two Iraqi cities and threatened to press toward Baghdad.
"We do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold," Obama said Thursday in the Oval Office.
However, officials firmly ruled out putting American troops back on the ground in Iraq, which has faced resurgent violence since the U.S. military withdrew in late 2011. A sharp burst of violence this week led to the evacuation Thursday of Americans from a major air base in northern Iraq where the U.S. had been training security forces.
Even should Obama intervene in a way that has a measurable non-negative influence on the situation, he has still created a security situation that is exponentially worse than it was only a week ago. Northern Iraq and Eastern Syria have become an al-Qaeda emirate. The Kurds have taken control of disputed territory, territory sitting on a bazillion barrels of oil, and will probably be reluctant to give it back. Iran has announced it is sending troops into Sunni Iraq. The Turks have no interest in having al-Qaeda or Iran mucking about in Nineveh Province or in the Kurds having oil revenue.
To a great extent, this episode serves as a metaphor of Obama's foreign policy and that of the Democrat party at large. When there is no US vital interest at stake (Libya) they will engage in military operations. When there are US vital interests at stake (Iraq) they both sabotage the status quo and then do nothing.