Last week President Obama authorized sending troops back to Iraq.
Why? It took the United States nine years to start with drawing troops, and getting them all out was a long process.
So now Obama has booked a return flight to Baghdad for 300 additional Special Operations troops. The stated purpose is to assist in Iraq’s fight against advancing Islamist militants.
Beefing up the American presence in Iraq will only fuel more fighting and put soldiers and Marines in harm’s way. And it opens the door for more troops to follow.
Obama said the additional troops were needed to better assess the situation on the ground. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is getting closer to Baghdad, he said, which is why troops are needed to determine “how we can best train, advise and support Iraqi security forces going forward.”
We’ve heard similar justifications for sending troops overseas before — and not just with this war. U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War began when the U.S. sent military advisers in 1960.
Obama’s decision on Iraq is political rather than military. That’s a well-established precursor to disaster.
Some Democrats in Congress don’t want Obama, whom they generally support, to re-engage in Iraq while some Republicans would like to see Obama get blamed for fanning the flames of war.
This is why House Speaker John A. Boehner and other Republican critics of Obama chide the president for new involvement in Iraq.
Sending in the so-called advisers is seen, at least by the White House, as political middle ground.
It’s a strategy that will ultimately fail.
The radicals who want to take over Iraq have no political timetable. They can, and will fight, as long as is necessary. War in the Middle East drags on for generations.
Whether U.S. troops go back into Iraq for six months or five years, the situation is not likely to change much. When the U.S. pulls out, the radicals move in.
Having U.S. troops fuels the violence as the soldiers and Marines are targets for those trying to undermine the new Iraqi government.
As we have said before, but it’s worth repeating, it is the responsibility of the Iraqi government and its people to secure their own country.
The U.S. has spent at least a decade and billions of dollars preparing Iraq’s army and security forces.
If the Iraqis are not prepared to defend themselves at this point, when will they be ready?