American Elephants

Obama Is Considering Potential Action And Discussing Options. by The Elephant's Child

Just a few days ago, I was reading about the real and highly consequential democratic process of elections in Iraq.  Iraq, said Bartle Bull, is engaged in a “conversation about government formation in a functional, stable and constitutional electoral setting. There is no talk of coups, of disenfranchised minorities, or politicized electoral commissions.” I quoted part of this previously.

The process of forming the next government may take months, and current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is the front-runner, although his victory is far from certain. Whoever does emerge atop what Disraeli called the “greasy pole”, there is no chance of a government that harbors al-Qaeda or belongs to the mullahs in Tehran, that invades its neighbors, assassinates its enemies, or gasses its own people. All of these things are vote-losers in Iraq, and in Iraqi politics today it is the vote that matters most.

The April election was the seventh time since January 2005 that Iraqis have gone to the polls on a national basis. The land of the purple finger has enjoyed four parliamentary elections, with an average turnout of 63 percent; two nationwide provincial elections, with an average turnout of 52 percent; and a constitutional referendum in which 63 percent of the country turned out to vote (and 79 percent voted “Yes”) on the republic’s inclusive, liberal, federalist constitution.

Every one of these ballots has been judged free and fair by international observers. Even ignoring the local circumstances that make this fact especially remarkable (the constant threat of jihadi violence on polling days, exacerbated by governance so poor that it is a wonder that anyone has enough faith in government to bother to vote at all), Iraqis have once again proven that they are more than deserving of the opportunity presented to them.

Twelve days later, and everything has changed. Well, most everything. ISIS is advancing on Baghdad, the Kurds have taken Kirkuk, and Iraqis are fleeing, trying to find somewhere to get out of the way. President Obama who said recently that his foreign policy can be summed up as “Don’t do dumb s––t !”, is doing just that in resorting to his usual dithering which will undoubtedly be followed by “There’s nothing we could have done,” once it’s too late.

President Maliki has asked for some air support, maybe some drone strikes. We reportedly have some drones doing surveillance. What they need are those A-10 Warthogs that a House panel just voted to scrap.  It’s an old plane, but the troops love it for the close air-support the gunship can deliver. What do I know, I’ve never been in the military, but I’d be inclined to listen to the troops who need it instead of congressmen who benefit from having certain armaments produced in their district. Close air-support is a difficult mission, and the A-10 works because it can go comparatively low and slow. The congressmen who voted to retire it claim the F-16 and the B-1 bomber can do the same mission, but the reverse isn’t true. Five US troops were just killed on Monday in an apparent friendly fire strike in southern Afghanistan. They had reportedly requested close-air support from a B-1 bomber. It’s all about the money. More modern, multi-mission aircraft, new generation of drones….

President Obama is not being well-served by his foreign policy advisers. He’s got Susan Rice,  who tells stories, a former speechwriter, a former campaign hack, Chuck Hagel and Valerie Jarrett. What could possibly go wrong?

The Pentagon, I am told, is always planning for the next war, not the present one. Drones, robots, and other high-tech wonders, while back in the real world we have tribal warfare with pick-ups, stolen Stingers and the American equipment that fleeing Iraqi troops left behind. The American people don’t mind wars when we are clearly winning, when nobody much gets killed, and  last no more than 4 years.  We watch too many movies, read military thrillers where the hero always wins and gets the girl, when we should be reading the books written by men who are reflecting on their time serving in combat.

We will have to wait a while for the definitive history of the War in Iraq. The Media, out to get George W. Bush, gave us a false picture that historians will have to reckon with. The tribal war between the Sunni, Shia and Kurds is hard enough to understand for those of us who are unfamiliar with the Koran, without dealing with Islamic politics, American politics and media misrepresentation. I’ve been re-reading the columns of Douglas Hanson who was American Thinker’s foreign policy person during the Iraq war. Really interesting. I wish President Obama had done that.

President Obama is examining  potential actions with his foreign policy team, and discussing various options. They have asked military and intelligence agencies to draw up options that include limited U.S. military action in Iraq, officials said. “They’re looking at everything and anything and have been told explicitly by the White House to think outside the box of what is possible,” a senior U.S. official said.

The president said he is seeking support from U.S. allies in any effort to keep extremists from gaining a permanent foothold in Iraq or Syria. Don’t want to do anything all on our own, we might be blamed.


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