Cross-posted from Mike Malloy
Man walks past near remains of burnt vehicles belonging to Iraqi security forces in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 13, 2014.
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President Obama is caught between a rock and a hard place -- no pun intended. He's catching hell from the right for withdrawing troops from Iraq when a status of forces agreement could not be reached with neo-dictator Maliki. And he's sure to catch even more fire from the left if he sends troops in now to quell the ISIS crisis.
Looks like the dreaded drone strikes may be the only viable option. What was that Rumsfeld said about a quagmire? Seems so long ago ...
Reuters details the current lose-lose proposition:
"The Bush administration actually believed we could export democracy to the Middle East. Bush announced the 'Bush Doctrine' in 2005, in his second Inaugural Address. 'The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands,' Bush declared. 'So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.'
"Set aside the fact that that is an arguable proposition. Would the United States really be more secure if countries like Saudi Arabia became democracies? When Egypt and Gaza held democratic elections, Islamist parties won. Nor is it by any means clear that U.S. policymakers understand enough about other countries' politics to somehow turn them into functioning democracies.
"What is clear is that the American public hates political wars. Americans believe the U.S. military should be used to win military victories -- not to intervene in other countries' politics or keep unreliable foreign governments in power. Which is exactly what the United States did in Iraq and Afghanistan ...
"'We certainly don't want to fight their fight,' former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week, 'because you'd be fighting for a dysfunctional, unrepresentative, authoritarian government. There's no reason on earth that I know of that we would ever sacrifice a single American life for that.'
"Now President Barack Obama is facing his own impossible choice. We will almost certainly be forced to intervene in Iraq. 'We do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria,' Obama said last week.
"The president has promised not to send ground troops. But it is unclear what air strikes can accomplish. We will need special operations forces and intelligence agents on the ground to identify targets. And we may have to strike targets in Syria.
"The debate over ... Who lost Iraq? has already begun in the United States. Republicans blame Obama for pulling out of Iraq too soon, though the decision to withdraw U.S. troops in 2011 was overwhelmingly popular. 'Our failure to leave forces in Iraq is why ... I predicted this would happen,' Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) said.
"But what could U.S. troops do? 'We're not going to allow ourselves to be dragged back into a situation in which, while we're there, we're keeping a lid on things,' Obama said.
"It was really Maliki who lost Iraq. It was hopelessly naive for Washington to believe that the United States could somehow turn a sectarian politician like Maliki into a model democrat.
"The United States is skilled at exporting arms and equipment and advice. We are no good at all at exporting democratic politics."
We've seen this failed experiment before (Vietnam?), and yet we seem doomed to lather, rinse, repeat. The Neocons accuse Obama of running and retreating in Iraq. How easy it is for them to toss our young service men and women into these meat grinders, then scream "quitter!" when the Democrats have to dig them out.