World View: Obama Sharply Escalates U.S. Involvement in Iraq War

World View: Obama Sharply Escalates U.S. Involvement in Iraq War

This morning’s key headlines from

  • U.S. is doubling number of troops in Iraq, but it’s not ‘mission creep’
  • The comeuppance election
  • U.S. cannot confirm claim that Russian tanks are entering Ukraine
  • Chechnya refugees now fighting the Russians in Ukraine

U.S. is doubling number of troops in Iraq, but it’s not ‘mission creep’

Iraqis fighting ISIS militants on October 25 (Reuters)
Iraqis fighting ISIS militants on October 25 (Reuters)

President Barack Obama announced late Friday afternoon, three daysafter the election, that he is authorizing 1,500 new troops into Iraq,effectively doubling the number of authorized troops to 3,100.

What is more significant, however, is that while the previous troopswere kept close to Baghdad for such tasks as protecting the embassy,the new troops will be out in the field in Anbar province, where theywill be vulnerable to combat attacks and kidnapping. However,according to the White House, this new announcement is not “missioncreep.”

For reference, here’s a selection of past statements by Obama:

Jun 19: We’re prepared to send a small number ofadditional American advisors, up to 300, to assess how we can besttrain, advise and support Iraqis security force forces goingforward I think we always have to guard against mission creep, solet me repeat what I’ve said in the past — American combat troopsare not going to be fighting in Iraq again.

Sep 7: The notion that the U.S. should be putting boots on theground is a profound mistake.

Sep 10: These American forces will not have a combat mission. Wewill not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.

Sep 12: My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak to you aboutwhat the United States will do with our friends and allies todegrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.

Sep 12: But I want the American people to understand how thiseffort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreignsoil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through asteady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist,using our air power and our support for partner forces on theground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us,while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we havesuccessfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it isconsistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to useforce against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, butto mobilize partners wherever possible to address broaderchallenges to international order.

Sep 18: The the American forces that have been deployed to Iraq donot and will not have a combat mission.

Sep 20: I won’t commit our troops to fighting another ground warin Iraq or in Syria.

In Friday’s announcement, the President insisted that this wasn’tmission creep, and that they would be advising and assisting, butnot fighting.

But these 1,500 new troops will be out in Anbar province, in themiddle of the fighting. Are they really just going to sit there andwatch as the fighting goes on?

It’s worth pointing out that Obama has been consistently wrong aboutIraq. In 2007, he opposed President George Bush’s “surge,” whichturned out to be successful. In December 2011, he said Iraq wasstable, and had no need for American troops at all. In June of thisyear, when he sent in 300 troops as advisors, he suggested that ISIScould be defeated with Iraqi troops and American air strikes.

At every step of the way, one analyst after another explained whyObama was wrong. And it now turns out that those analysts were rightand Obama was wrong.

The comeuppance election

Today I heard one analyst say that at least 10,000 or so more troopswould be needed for the operation in Anbar province to be effective,and he predicted that Obama would end up increasing the deploymentto at least the level within a few months — and that they wouldbe combat troops.

I’ve told the following story many times, but it’s worth repeatingnow. When I heard Obama campaigning in 2008, saying that with hiselection the earth would heal and the tides would recede, and makingother ridiculous promises, I didn’t think much of it, sincepoliticians always say ridiculous things when they’re campaigning, andthen they pull them back after the election.

After the election, when I heard Obama continue saying the samethings, I knew we were in trouble. And when I heard him say somethingto the effect that on January 21 the world will be a different place,I thought that if he really believed that, then he was delusional.

Now, six years later, it’s clear that he’s delusional. His supportersmake excuses for him, but the excuses don’t explain the arrogance, thedoubling down on every bad decision, the fact that every foreignpolicy decision has been a disaster, the attitude that he’s thesmartest guy in the room, in every room — even though he’s admitted he can’t do his daughter’s7th grade math homework. It’s gotten to the point where I almostdread it whenever he opens his mouth.

Everybody gets his comeuppance sooner or later, and on Tuesday Obamagot his. It’s a compliment to the American political system that wetolerate this kind of delusional arrogance only for so long, and thenelections take over. This is in contrast to any number of countrieswhere delusional leaders stay in office forever. Tuesday’s electionwas a “comeuppance election” for Obama. He still hasn’t learnedanything, and he’s still arrogantly doubling down on every baddecision, but at least the American political system has limited howmuch more damage he can do. We’re really seeing the strength andbrilliance of our Constitutional form of government.

In the meantime, there’s little that we can do but watch as hestumbles, one step at a time, into a new American war in Iraq in theworst possible way. Reuters

U.S. cannot confirm claim that Russian tanks are entering Ukraine

According to Ukraine’s military, Russia on Thursday sent a column of32 tanks and truckloads of troops across Russia’s border into Ukraine,to support the anti-government Russians in east Ukraine. This followsreports on Wednesday that Russian troops were approaching Ukraine’s border.

However, the State Department said on Friday that it could not confirmthe reports that the troops had crossed the border. State Departmentspokesman Jen Psaki said Russian battle tanks, armored vehicles andcargo trucks had been seen on Thursday at a rail yard about 25kilometers (15.5 miles) from the border. Reuters and AFP

Chechnya refugees now fighting the Russians in Ukraine

In a surprise development, two battalions of Chechen veterans of late1990s war between Russia and Chechnya are now fighting the Russians inUkraine, under the Ukrainian flag. These are people who fought at thebeginning of the second Russian-Chechen war and ended up in Europeancountries as refugees.

Some of these Chechens had been going to Syria to join the jihadistsfighting the Syrian regime because that was the only outlet available.But the Ukraine conflict has given them a new outlet, with theadvantage that they can strike the Russian army and Russian interestsdirectly. Jamestown

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Iraq, Anbar province,Ukraine, Russia, Chechnya, Syria
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