In light of recent violence in Iraq — and al-Qaeda’s resurgence there – the New York Times editorial board finally stated the obvious yesterday:
Iraq is a sovereign country, responsible for its own security. But Iraq might have been better able to repel Al Qaeda if Mr. Maliki and the Americans had worked harder on a deal to keep a token number of troops in the country to continue helping with training and intelligence-gathering. Not surprising, Mr. Maliki’s interest in such an arrangement has grown; Army Special Operations and the C.I.A. reportedly have small units in the country to assist in counterterrorism activities.
If “Americans” — meaning President Obama and his administration — had earnestly attempted to forge a lasting, residual relationship with Iraq, the situation on the ground there would be much different today. As the Times piece notes, even a token number of troops would have done the trick. Instead, the situation has slowly unraveled (for many reasons) and America is left without a seat at the table to influence it. As bad as it is for the people of Iraq, the chaos is just as bad for America’s long-term security interests. Instead of following through on our commitment there and truly preventing al-Qaeda’s ability to return, we’ve squandering a heavy investment for the sake of a campaign promise.
When America behaves like this, it’s no wonder our influence dwindles in the Middle East. Yet another casualty of Obama’s foreign policy, or lack thereof.