A president can declare a war to be over, but that doesn’t mean it actually is — the enemy has a lot of say in the matter.
In December, 2011 the last American troops left Iraq. The Obama administration couldn’t get them out fast enough — and as a result a status of forces agreement with the country was never secured. It’s now 2014, and the consequences of having a commander-in-chief who is in over his head continue to be revealed to the world.
Business Insider reported Tuesday:
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical offshoot of al Qaeda, has taken control of Iraq’s second largest city.
Iraqi police and security forces reportedly fled Mosul prior to the attack, leaving the facilities of the city open for plunder. Mosul was a key area of focus for U.S. forces in an effect to stabilize Iraq, and large amounts of military hardware was left in the city for the Iraqis.
Iraq’s parliament speaker said that ISIS took control of the city’s airport and obtained helicopters. ISIS also took control of U.S. Humvees, which they are now proceeding to send to Syria.
NBC’s Richard Engel, after talking with a former U.S. commander in Iraq, puts it further in perspective via Twitter:
Let that sink in: Even at the height of violence in 2006/2007 a provincial HQs was never seized by insurgents. The implications are “very serious.” And the sad thing is that it could have been prevented.
In Focus Quarterly reported in 2012:
Given that the U.S. would never agree to leave its people to the mercy of an Iraqi court, Iraqi demands for this condition seemed to be a calculated plan of Shia politicians who needed America out of the way in order to finally advance Iranian hegemony in Iraq. But recent reporting by The New York Times’ Michael Gordon paints a more complicated picture of U.S. incompetence and disengagement. Most notably, the Obama administration’s insistence that any Status of Forces Agreement be ratified by Iraq’s parliament set the stage for the inevitable failure of any agreement.
Simply put, while a number of Iraqi political leaders may have privately wished for continued American involvement to serve as a buffer and broker between both domestic rivals and neighboring regimes, far fewer were willing to support this position in a public, contentious debate. No one wants to be regarded as an American stooge in the prideful arena of Iraqi politics. Backing parliamentarians into a corner by demanding public ratification doomed a new SOFA to failure.
Pathetic. There is really no other way to say it.
Foreign Policy magazine had an interview with Jim Jeffrey, the former US Ambassador to Iraq, in 2012. Here’s what came to light (via The Long War Journal):
Jeffrey didn’t necessarily support the larger troop footprint envisioned by military leaders at the time, which reportedly ranged from 8,000 to 16,000 to 24,000 troops, depending on the military official. But he said he firmly believed that troops in Iraq past 2011 were needed and wanted by the Iraqi government.
Jeffrey said that he and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki personally discussed the idea of extending the U.S. troop presence in Iraq via an executive agreement, which would not have to go through the Iraqi parliament.
“Maliki said at one point, ‘Why don’t we just do this as an executive agreement?'”
The Obama administration failed to secure a SOFA with Iraq — a deal that could have been worked out — and for the past three years it’s blubbered around while Syria has turned into Jihad Central. It bombed the hell out of Libya and declared victory, and then walked away as that too descended into one big giant terrorist training ground. It’s sent five top Taliban commanders back out into the field. Now, American-made Humvees are being confiscated in Iraq and sent into Syria, where over 150,000 people have died, and the chaos (the perfect breeding ground for terrorism), looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic scenario from your worst nightmares.
To add insult to injury, ISIS also has its hands on helicopters. Great. Grand. Wonderful.
And in case you missed it, ISIS military commanders have s**t-eating grins on their faces because of what’s going on in Iraq and Syria right.
The primary role of the commander-in-chief is to keep the nation safe. It isn’t to “slow jam” the news with Jimmy Fallon. It isn’t to do “Funny or Die” videos to sell health care public policy because the federal government couldn’t get a website to work for hundreds-of-millions of dollars.
The president’s number one task is to protect Americans from those who seek to do them harm at home or abroad, and Mr. Obama’s fundamental misunderstanding of what motivates and drives the world’s worst actors has left him woefully unprepared for the job.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei laughs at Mr. Obama. Vladimir Putin laughs at Mr. Obama. Terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria and every other failed state and pseudo-lawless region of the world all laugh at Mr. Obama. That is because instead of doing the right thing since taking office, all-too-often the president decided to do “the opposite of Bush” — even if the decision was not in the long-term national security interests of the American people.
The United States needed a commander-in-chief and it fittingly elected a community organizer from a city that “organized” itself into “Chiraq.”
Hopefully, 2016 will be the year that Americans decide that the presidential election should be taken a bit more seriously than a vote for the next winner of American Idol.