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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Who lost Iraq?

Link: Politico magazine's take on "Who Lost Iraq"?

(Update: Before tackling today's unwieldy subject matter, it's time for a quick update, for any of our readers who have an interest.  The book that actually spawned this blog, Mukhabarat, Baby!, has been available at all the usual places (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Booklocker, etc.) for roughly three months.  While the blog has proven to be quite popular and continues to grow in viewership, the book has not done well.  The reviews have been tremendous; in fact, we have yet to receive a negative review.  But at the end of the day, the success of a book is measured in how much it is appreciated by readers, especially readers of its particular genre.  Its safe to say that MB has been unsuccessful with every particular genre.  Since the book has received great reviews, and does provide insight into a world that many seem to hold in fascination, what seems to be the problem?  We even have a comedy out this week with Melissa McCarthy playing a spy.  I have to be honest; it does look funny, and she always seems to make me laugh.  As for MB, the problem is simple to diagnose.  I have been unable to gain traction with regards to exposure.  People aren't buying my book because they don't know it exists.  I haven't been reviewed in the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, or Washington Post, and I haven't been invited onto any news programs to discuss my career and the book.  If an author is fortunate enough to have a good agent and publisher, they run a strong likelihood of being successful, like the Housewives from Beverly Hills and the Duck Dynasty folks (both of whom are or were on the Non-Fiction Best Seller List), while self-published authors like me, even if they follow all of the good advice out there, end up with beautiful blogs and amazing internet book sites, and spend their week nights introducing their book to a virtually deserted VFW somewhere in the middle of the desert in Arizona.  But I won't throw in the towel.  I'm still out there, setting up speaking engagements and talking up my book.  Why not hop on to Amazon and buy it?  Better yet, hop on to Amazon and buy a copy for yourself and separate copies for your friends.  Cheers, friends.)

When someone forwarded me a link to the Politico article which attempts to address the question, "Who lost Iraq?", I had no idea what to expect.  Occasionally Politico will throw a curve, and this has been a rather popular subject in recent weeks.  I read the article through twice, and I can't say that they did a bad job.  Politico assembled a group of persons that it has decided are experts on Iraq, and asked them particular questions regarding the insurgency, the surge, the draw-down, and the current conflict involving ISIS.  After taking a look at the lineup assembled to give us our answers, I couldn't help but wonder, how did they decide which questions to ask what person?  And who chose the "experts" to begin with?  For the sake of the argument, lets give Politico the benefit of the doubt, and move on with the conversation.

Let's start with two basic facts.  First, in 2009, Iraq was making great strides in its recovery from three wars and almost five decades of Saddam Hussein.  The economy was growing, the refineries were functioning, the job market was growing, and construction projects were going on everywhere.  The school were open, including a number of new institutions that were built and paid for by the United States.  In fact, we paid for just about everything, including the infrastructure repair.  The roads and bridges were usable, traffic flowed with working signals and traffic cops were around to assist with accidents and back-ups.  International flights were landing at Baghdad International and, most importantly, the job market was growing. Iraq was on its feet and nearly ready to run its own show.  The past remaining piece of the puzzle?  Iraq was in serious need of a reliable police force and a dependable, well-trained and well-supplied army.  The U.S. military can be given all the credit for the positive changes in Iraq, and should have been left alone to complete the training of the Iraqi Security apparati (police, military, border control, customs, etc.) on their own schedule.

The second point that we can all agree on is that Iraq is now in a state of war with the "Islamic State for the creation of a Caliphate in the Levant", or ISIS, as it is commonly known.  ISIS is a terrorist organization that has developed a powerful, mobile, well-armed conventional army, and it is determined to gain effective control of both Syria and Iraq (and eventually the rest of the Levant).  In 2012 and 2013, ISIS, which until then had been content to raise hell with Bashir al-Assad and his forces in Syria, decided to expand its religious war into northern Iraq.  Mosul fell, and Kirkuk and Arbil were threatened.  The Kurds were put on the defensive and had to military repel ISIS with very little assistance from the outside.  Each new bit of territory that ISIS occupied brought with it new victims; Christians or the wrong kind of Muslims, who were lined up and executed by the hundreds.  At present, ISIS controls much of northwest Iraq, including the border crossings into Syria.  ISIS also controls parts of Anbar Province, including both Ramadi and Fallujah.  Although Tikrit was recently retaken by the Iraqi Security Forces, ISIS continues to put pressure on Baiji and its valuable oil refinery, and recently has stepped up suicide attacks in Diyala Province to the east of Baghdad.  Control of Anbar and Diyala Provinces will allow ISIS to pay siege to Baghdad itself.

So given those two points, what happened to turn situation number one into situation number two?  I will save everyone a little time and answer this myself, because its really not very complicated.  The U.S. military had a timetable for all operations dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan.  Because of the success of the surge and the positive involvement of the Sunni community in defeating Al-Qaeda in Iraq, it was imperative that the United States not lose that goodwill by abandoning the Iraqi people before their government and its functions were in place to work effectively.  This is exactly the action that was taken by President Obama.  Ignoring the advice of the Pentagon, Obama ordered an increase in the U.S. military departure schedule.  President Obama was bound and determined that our troops would be out of Iraq by such-and-such date.  Soldiers, including Generals, will only object for so long before they will just shut-up and carry out their orders.  We left Iraq before any of their Security forces were prepared.  In fact, we left before the police were prepared to issue speeding tickets, let alone stand up to ISIS.  In response to the growing alarm in the civilian community, the Iraqi government ordered its army to confront ISIS on the battlefield outside Tikrit.  I don't have to remind everyone about the mass desertions, the equipment left on the battlefield for ISIS to steal, and the prisoners captured for more video of mass executions.  Iraq has fallen to shit because we left before our military had sufficiently trained the Iraqis to successfully defend their country in what is obviously an evolving and very dangerous environment.  Why?  Where was the fire, as my grandma used to say?  Why was it so damn necessary to leave Iraq so quickly, instead of a few years down the road when the Iraqis were in a better position to stand up to ISIS?  Our policy not only let down the Iraqi people, it also played into the hands of Iran, who is now seen as the hero in this unfolding nightmare, because the Shi'a militias they train and advise have come to the aid of the Iraqi Security Forces, and with some success.

Let me leave you with the biggest irony of all: how is the Obama Administration dealing with the collapse of the Iraqi Security Forces?  Why, we are sending in Army trainers and instructors....the same folks who should have been left to do their jobs in the first place.  Que loco.

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