The Corner

National Security & Defense

It’s Time to Modernize Our Approach toward Iraq

A member of the Iraqi Border Guard during exercises at the Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq, Oct. 20, 2018. (Specialist Eric Cerami/US Army)

A decade ago, many Americans were deeply invested in the fate of Iraq’s democracy, not least because we had lost so much blood and treasure in the effort to help build and sustain it. But now, with the threat of ISIS greatly diminished, Iraq’s ongoing travails attract relatively little attention. As Bilal Wahab of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy reminds us, however, there are good reasons for the U.S. to continue to take an interest in Iraq.

For one, ISIS has yet to be fully vanquished, and Iraqi security forces need American assistance to finish the job. By strengthening the Iraqi state, and encouraging transparency and good government, we can build up Iraq as an ally in a volatile region. “Targeted support of this kind,” writes Wahab, “is also the most effective way of curbing Iran’s nefarious influence, which exploits the weak rule of law and institutions to bolster its status as a powerful arbiter (and bullying enforcer) in Iraq’s highly transactional and personal politics.” And then there is the fact that in recent years, Iraq has become a major source of forced migrants, causing serious integration challenges in neighboring countries and as far away as Europe.

With a new government just taking office in Baghdad, one dominated by non-sectarian technocrats ushered in by Iraqi voters fed up with corruption and civil strife, now seems like an excellent moment to offer a hand. As Wahab suggests, a little help today could spare us much bigger headaches tomorrow.

Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

Most Popular


The Rise of the Chinese-American Right

On June 13, during a nasty storm, a group of Chinese New Yorkers gathered in front of the gates of Gracie Mansion, the New York mayor’s residence on the Upper East Side, to protest. Inside, Mayor Bill de Blasio was meeting with two dozen or so representatives of the Asian-American community to discuss his ... Read More
White House

The Trump Steamroller

As we settle into high summer and the period of maximum difficulty in finding anything to fill in hours of television news, especially 24/7 news television, two well-established political trends are emerging in this pre-electoral period: The president’s opponents continue to dig themselves into foxholes that ... Read More
White House

Trump and the ‘Racist Tweets’

What does “racist” even mean anymore? Racism is the headline on President Trump’s Sunday tweets -- the media-Democrat complex assiduously describes them as “racist tweets” as if that were a fact rather than a trope. I don’t think they were racist; I think they were abjectly stupid. Like many ... Read More

How Beto Made Himself into White-Privilege Guy

Robert Francis O’Rourke is white. If it’s any consolation, he’s very sorry about that. “Beto” has been running from his Irish ancestry for some time now. Long before the Left fell headlong into the logical termini of its triune fascination with race, power, and privilege, O’Rourke sensed that there ... Read More