Dr. Sebastian Gorka, the Major General Horner Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University and National Security Affairs editor of Breitbart.com makes a compelling case that policy decisions and politically driven censorship of the American national security establishment have helped strengthen Al Qaeda’s successor and hastened the collapse of the nation of Iraq.
The current administration and the President represented Operation Iraqi Freedom as the “wrong war,” as opposed to the “good war” that was Afghanistan. The Vice President even called the end of our involvement in Iraq one of the great achievements of Obama’s tenure.
With the jihadi group ISIS now in control of parts of the country that together equal the size of Syria, taking over former US bases, and moving toward the capital of Baghdad, the “achievement” has vanished Gorka writes:
The chaos and murder unleashed in the last few days are beyond the comprehension of the majority of Americans who have never served or lived in a war zone. According to the vicar of Baghdad Andrew White, Iraq is now witnessing mass violence and atrocities worse than anything seen since the invasion in 2003.
The fact is that ISIS – The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (or the Levant) – has grown in strength and ferocity in the last three years to a point that it now is more powerful and capable than the original Al Qaeda whence it came. It has become Al Qaeda 2.0. ISIS’s growth is in part a result of conscious actions and policy decisions taken by the current US administration.
- First, since very early on in his presidential campaign and then after becoming the Commander-in-Chief, it became obvious that the President had little interest in international affairs and national security. In fact, in his first speech to graduating West Point cadets in 2009, he was unequivocal. It was time to “end the war in Iraq” because “we must rebuild our strength here at home.” The White House agenda since 2008 has primarily been driven by domestic projects aimed at expanding the state such as Obamacare. That is why none of the National Security Advisers appointed by the White House since General Jim Jones was ignominiously replaced in 2010 have been recognized names in the world of national security. The issue just does not interest the incumbent, and therefore there was no need for a Kissinger- or Brzezinski-caliber replacement.
- As attested to by a remarkably in-depth 2011 article in The New Yorker, the administration sees all crises as unique and unrelated to one another. So great is this belief that America does not need a strategy to deal with the world and inform our national actions in a consistent fashion that the President, when interviewed on national television, actually stated that having “blanket policies” can get you “into trouble.” As a result, the idea that the chaos in Syria, where ISIS built its forces, was connected to the future stability of Iraq did not occur to the administration until Mosul, Fallujah, and Tikrit had fallen to fighters trained and hardened in the war against Assad just next door. Our government cannot connect the dots if the Commander-in-Chief openly believes that doing so is a bad idea.
- This lack of any strategic approach to the global threat of jihadi groups is compounded by politically-driven censorship of the national security and defense establishment. As documented elsewhere, in 2011 putative “representatives” of the Muslim communities in the US demanded that the White House review and censor all counter terrorism training materials and trainers used by the Defense Department and Department of Justice, their claim being that existing materials and trainers were un-Islamic or “Islamaphobic.” This event that has come to be known as “the purge” – see this documentary for the full story – and led to the forced removal of any mention of Islam or jihad from all governmental training materials used by our armed forces or the FBI. As a result, as a government, we have blinded ourselves to such an extent that it has become practically impossible for a national security professional to understand what is going on in the Middle East and what drives groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda without getting into trouble for being politically incorrect.
- Of course, trying to understand the decapitation of enemy forces or the tactic of suicide attacks without referring to, or being allowed to refer to, jihad is analogous to our trying to understand the Third Reich in 1944 while banning our soldiers and intelligence professionals from talking about and analyzing Nazism.
- Lastly, the fact that Senator Obama built a campaign narrative on the foundation that Afghanistan is the “good war” and Iraq was the “bad war” locked his administration onto a politically defined track that short-changed America’s national security interests. Once in office, commitment to this narrative – that was deemed to have helped him win office – meant that the Iraqi campaign had to end at all costs. So great was the pressure that the administration was prepared to pull all US forces out in 2011 without securing the standard Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Baghdad that would have allowed us to leave enough forces in country to suppress and deter violence against the Maliki regime and keep the country functioning after more than 4,000 Americans had died to free it from Saddam Hussein.
Further on topic from Sky News’ Stuart Ramsy notes on the front line in Kirkuk that Kurdish forces are stepping up.
Kurdish forces, unlike the Iraqi army, did not flee as ISIS gunmen rampaged their way through this part of northern Iraq, previously considered a stronghold of Baghdad’s army.
Hundreds of Peshmerga soldiers man a mud berm. The ISIS fighters are a short distance away on the other side and there is regular contact between the two sides. Bullets whistle overhead as Kurd fighters look for targets and any sign of movement by the Islamists.
The soldiers say that ISIS are holed up in Sunni villages about 800m away and for the past few days have attacked the Kurdish positions, sometimes from trucks mounted with heavy weapons and sometimes with mortars.