Between Iraq and a Hard Place: In Which I Bail the President Out From His Bad Middle East Optics


ISIS column in Anbar Province, Iraq.

After an early enthusiasm for the Viet Nam war, other than Grenada, I have not supported any American intervention overseas in my lifetime. So for once, I find myself in agreement with the 44th president.

Mr. Obama has some bad optics with the ISIS assault in Iraq. Sure, it wasn’t his war, but his Vice President did say this in 2010:

(Iraq )”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.”

The rout of the Baghdad government from large parts of the country looks bad, and calling it Bush’s war will resonate with the faithful, but others are a bit jaded with the” Bush did it” excuse six years in.. No matter who may be seen to “own” Iraq politically, the ISIS advances represent at the very least, a massive intelligence failure – or perhaps failure to act on intelligence. Coming so soon after the Crimea takeover, it just looks like crap.

As senator, Obama did not vote for Iraq, and rather than his frequent custom of listing himself “present,” voted against it. Others in his party cannot say the same. Mrs. Clinton was in, and both her husband and his VP, Al Gore, are on record long before the war, pointing to the danger posed by Saddam. Many other Democrats joined in the war vote, including the current Secretary of State, John Kerry.


Shiite militia parade, Baghdad, June 20, 2014. Despite the Nissan in the lead, from the headlights, it looks like Toyota has the conflict sewed up,truck-wise.

So how can Mr. Obama clear up his Iraq optics?

Embrace the Iraq war, and then kiss it goodbye.

Here, Barrack, let me show you how to do it.

“Good evening.

My fellow Americans, I am asking for your time this evening to speak on the recent and ongoing events in Iraq. This country has cast a long shadow on American politics and foreign policy, across administrations and parties, long before I became President.

Mehdi Army Women loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr march during a parade in Najaf

These Shia ladies are on our side, sort of.  In Syria and Lebanon, their veiled sisters are on the other side. Got it?  I don’t. Did American really think it could handle this place?  What were we thinking?

It is no secret that I voted against the Iraq War as Senator and ran against it when I first campaigned for the office of President. I promised an end to ur role in the conflict, and I kept that promise. As President I have learned much, and I have come to know this about America’s role in Iraq.

The men and women, in both parties, who voted for, and worked towards the ouster of Saddam, l believe, especially in view of Iraq’s present agony, were wrong.

But they were not, and are not, selfish or evil. There was no war for oil. Those who supported the war policy had two things in mind:

The national security of the United States, and, along with a hatred of Saddam’s tyranny, a sincere wish that Iraq be stable and free, and in time, lead the region out of its sad history of conflict and deprivation.

They should not be vilified for misplaced hope.

I, they, and all Americans honor the courage and sacrifice of the many thousands of our forces who served, died, and were maimed in Iraq. We also recognize the contributions of our civilians there, the diplomats, engineers and technicians, doctors and nurses, educators, and the whole range of specialists who worked to bring Iraq back from ruin.

In 2010, when we finally withdrew our forces it seemed we had succeeded.

That we have not is not the fault of any administration. America expended massive amounts of her treasure and expertise, and above all, the precious lives of our best and brightest young people, to give the Iraqi people a chance at a future of freedom and progress.

We are deeply saddened that ancient hatreds should make this unlikely for the foreseeable future.

But we have done enough, and can do no more. Nor would we if we could.

Self reliance is a core American value. While we cannot instill such a value where it is not, we understand that it must exist for any nation to succeed.

Therefore, while I will take such action as may be necessary to our immediate security needs, and may provide assistance where it can be used efficiently and honestly, the United States under my administration will not intervene in Iraq. Our time in Afghanistan is also coming to an end, and I hope profoundly hope that our friends there will look to Iraq and resolve to do better.

That so grand an undertaking has failed is a tragedy, but I urge you all tonight and in the days to come, to look back upon this chapter in our history as one of many times when America has given much, in return for little.

God Bless America

God bless our veterans

Thank you, and good night.”


C’mon, Mr. President. I guarantee you a 5% overnight bounce in the polls.

But for Barrack Obama to make such a statement would require both humility and magnanimity, two qualities in which he is signally lacking.

Not a chance.



Biden Heralds “Obama the Conqueror”

"In Hoc Signo Vincit"

“Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World” – Sir Halford Mackinder, 1919

Vice President Biden :”The biggest thing that’s happened, the president has been able to unite the world including Russia and China.”, speaking to Rachel Maddow (That explains a lot.) on Tuesday .

Poor Alexander: He just nudged India, never mind China.

So Obama has done what so  many others have attempted and and failed to achieve.  In three short years he’s trumped  Alexander of Macedon, and even aced out the heaviest hitter of them all in the global domination  hall of fame, Genghis Khan.

Like a colossus, he bestrides Europe and Asia from the Baltic to the south China Sea, from the Sea of Okhotsk to the Black Sea.

I sure wouldn’t want to play “Risk” (TM) with this guy.

World domination: c'mon, you know you want it!

Genghis didn't reach the Baltic

Of course, I’m taking this out of context so as to have a little fun.  Biden was speaking of the stunning success of the Obama administration its dealings with Iran.  His claims are only slightly less grandiloquent than the ones that open this piece.

Here’s a more extensive quote in which the Veep expands on the administration’s overwhelming victory in diminishing Iranian strength, or at least the perception of such power.

“The biggest thing that’s happened, the president has been able to unite the world including Russia and China. In continuing to ostracize and to isolate Iran. So the truth is, and I really mean this, Rachel, the talk about the projection, the capacity of [Iran] to project power in the Gulf is actually diminished. They are less feared. They are less — they have less influence than they have had any time, I would argue, in the last 20 years. And there will be a relationship between Iraq and Iran because they have a very long border. They will trade. They should have a normal relationship. But they are not allies,”

EU may study oil embargo on Iran; China urges calm(Reuters)Decmber 1, 2011

China says it opposes Western sanctions on Iran BEIJING | Wed Nov 23, 2011 3:34am EST(Reuters)

China, Russia Resist Sanctions Against Iran(WSJ)NOVEMBER 17, 2011

Nothing like the possibility of an EU study to bring the world to the brink of war. China is

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast, Wednesday,Dec 15 "(But) when the U.S. and the Zionist regime make various threats, they are effectively creating an atmosphere of war in the region. And of course such an atmosphere causes some reactions".

clearly totally panicked.

Now, the President is widely praised for being tech savvy, but one has to ask if Joe has a Blackberry, or an iPhone so he can check this stuff out before he goes on? Does he understand the term “key word search”?

And sadly, it may also be appropriate to question the state of his short term memory, as in this Tuesday Interview, he appears to have forgotten the President’s risible plea on Monday for the return of the U.S. drone lost in Iran.

Biden refers to Iran’s ongoing rumblings about closing the Strait of Hormuz as of little concern, but Tehran was not listening, as it reiterated the threat on Wednesday. No one for a moment, not even the Iranians think the Islamic Republic is any match for the U.S. Navy, but they are confident enough to make the threat, and not surprised by predictable hand wringing in the West, and the unconcern on the part of their trade partners, Russia and China.

Vice President Biden’s long term memory is also in question:

And there will be a relationship between Iraq and Iran because they have a very long border. They will trade. They should have a normal relationship. But they are not allies,”

Moqtada Sadr: If he's not up for a rumble, someone else will be.

No kidding.   Remember a fellow named  Moqtada Sadr, his Mehdi Militia, and the Shia – Sunni civil War of 2007 in Iraq?

Iran and Iraq: Not allies, true.  The correct term for Iraq in the  not so distant future would be “vassal state.”  Think Iran and Assad’s Syria, of Hezbollah and what’s left of Lebanon.

This is in no way to advocate further involvement in Iraq.  The war was an act of colossal hubris, or manic optimism, at best.  This administrations weak grasp of the realities in the Middle East and its unfounded confidence in positive outcomes there are the same sorts of sentiments that brought on the neocon disaster in Iraq, and are equally as dangerous . They may yet prove even more costly.

(If you are wondering what qualifies me to be Middle East analyst I would parry by asking what qualifies Joe Biden?)