The Islamic State group has taken control of Ramadi and political pundits want to know why Iraqi forces have fled — again — despite training by U.S. troops, an abundance of U.S.-supplied weapons, and the assistance of U.S. airstrikes. The short answer is that the Obama administration has no strategy for Iraq. Dropping bombs on people is not a strategy. Regardless, here is the big picture: the U.S. has an incoherent foreign policy because it no longer knows what it stands for. America’s foreign policy failures are symptoms of a much deeper problem.
To provide a quick example of just how bad things are going in Iraq, first read Wednesday’s reporting by The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — The United States is rushing 1,000 antitank rockets to the Iraqi military to help combat the massive suicide vehicle bombs that Islamic State militants used in capturing the provincial capital of Ramadi, a first step as the Obama administration weighs a range of difficult options to help its beleaguered ally. …
Obama administration officials have called the fall of Ramadi a huge setback, but they have sought to quell critics in the region and on Capitol Hill by portraying the defeat as a temporary blow that will not change the overall strategy for fighting the Islamic State or lessen the administration’s support of Mr. Abadi’s government.
Then read Tuesday’s reporting by The Associated Press:
Iraqi troops abandoned dozens of U.S military vehicles, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery pieces when they fled Islamic State fighters in Ramadi on Sunday, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steve Warren, estimated that a half dozen tanks were abandoned, a similar number of artillery pieces, a larger number of armored personnel carriers and about 100 wheeled vehicles like Humvees. He said some of the vehicles were in working condition; others were not because they had not been moved for months.
This repeats a pattern in which defeated Iraq security forces have, over the past year, left behind U.S.-supplied military equipment, prompting the U.S. to destroy them in subsequent airstrikes against Islamic State forces.
Got it? The U.S. is supplying Iraqi forces with antitank weapons just days after Iraqi forces let U.S.-supplied tanks fall into the Islamic State group’s possession. As AP noted, there is now a pattern of Iraqi forces losing U.S. equipment to the terror organization.
Here is what White House Press secretary Josh Earnest told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl when he was essentially asked if this kind of pattern constitutes success:
JONATHAN KARL: On the overall track record of military operations, and the president’s strategy on this, you said we’ve seen periods of progress and success. Would you say that overall the strategy has been a success?
JOSH EARNEST: Look Jon, yeah, overall, yes. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been areas of setback as we saw in Ramadi.
KARL: Is it the exporting terror to Libya? Taking over the capitol of Iraq’s largest province? This is overall success?
EARNEST: We’ve also seen a coalition of 60 nations around the world join the United States in this fight. We’ve seen a new Prime Minister take office in Iraq and unite that country and deploy a multisectarian security force against ISIL that has succeeded in liberating important areas of Diyala, Ninevah, Babel, Kirkuk provinces. …
Translation: We’re “doing something” with a coalition of 60 nations and security forces are “doing…stuff…and things.”
Here is what I said September 13, 2012 regarding President Obama’s foreign policy:
At best, I consider it “Finger Painting Foreign Policy,” in which he takes a globular mess, rubs his hands in it, makes a bigger mess and then smiles with what he’s accomplished — while the media likens him to Jackson Pollock.
Syria has no functional government. Libya has no functional government. Yemen has no functional government. Iraq has a dysfunctional government. It seems safe to say that time has shown the finger painting analogy to be an accurate assessment, which is probably why Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is nowhere to be found.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, however, is willing to talk. Here is what he told CBS News on Monday:
“I think first of all we need to change the rules of engagement for our troops. I think we don’t need a significant increase in troops in my view, but how they’re used needs to be changed.”
The sad news is that Mr. Obama is not likely to change the rules of engagement for American troops in any productive way because, again, he has not articulated a strategy. He reacts to world events based on political calculus, but does not try to shape them based on a core set of principles.
Even if the president had an epiphany in the final leg of his presidency, it would matter little. The collective mind of the American people is no longer moored to its founding principles. We are fractured. We are splintered. We are not united. The greatest strategy in the world cannot succeed when its implementation depends upon a nation that has stewed in moral relativism so long that it no longer knows right from wrong — or even cares to learn.
If you believe in God, then I suggest praying for the future of America. Strange days certainly lie ahead.