President Obama announced today that, while the U.S. is willing to do their part to help deal with a terrorist insurgency, he will not be sending combat troops back to Iraq.
The president said:
Over the last couple of days, we’ve seen significant gains by the ISIL terrorist organization that operates in both Iraq and Syria. In the face of a terrorist offensive, Iraqi security forces have proven unable to defend a number of cities, which has allowed the terrorists to overrun part of Iraq’s territory, and this poses a danger to Iraq and its people and given the nature of these terrorists, it could pose a threat, eventually to American interests as well.
Now, this threat is not brand new. Over the last year, we’ve been steadily ramping up our security assistance to the Iraqi government with increased training, equipping, and intelligence. Now, Iraq needs additional support to break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities of Iraqi security forces. We will not be sending U.S. combat troops back into Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq’s security forces, and I’ll be reviewing those options in the days ahead.
Obama’s position on helping Iraq was summed up with one sentence, “We can’t do it for them.” He added, “The United States will do our part, but understand that ultimately it’s up to the Iraqis as a sovereign nation to solve their problems.”
President Obama was correct. This isn’t something that the United States can do for Iraq. The problems in Iraq are best summed up by a report from The Guardian, “Two divisions of Iraqi soldiers – roughly 30,000 men – simply turned and ran in the face of an assault by an insurgent force of just 800 fighters. Isis extremists roamed freely on Wednesday through the streets of Mosul, openly surprised at the ease with which they took Iraq’s second largest city after three days of sporadic fighting.”
If the Iraqi security forces aren’t willing to fight when they have an overwhelming advantage, there isn’t much that the United States, or anyone else can do for the Iraqi government. The security situation in Iraq that was constructed by the Bush administration was always a house of cards. Since the U.S. invasion, there have always been issues with Iraqi security forces not wanting to fight.
None of this is new. The difference is that Republicans have long held the position that the United States should never have taken our combat troops out. Under a Republican president, U.S. troops would still be fighting and dying for some people who don’t want to take responsibility for their own national security.
Recent events are demonstrating why it was a good idea for the United States to get the combat troops out of Iraq. The Bush doctrine has been a total failure, and Obama is doing the right thing by making the Iraqis stand on their o