It wasn’t that many years ago when we were reading headlines about the last American troops leaving Iraq. It happened in mid-August 2011, when a convoy carrying 500 troops crossed into Kuwait. All that was left in Iraq were about 150 American soldiers at the U.S embassy, though the embassy itself, with a staff of several thousands, has always remained an echo of American occupation: you don’t need 5,000 people to stamp visas. President Obama then went on to win reelection partly on that fulfilled promise of ending American involvement in the stupidest American war since Vietnam.
So it’s probably a surprise to most people that even before Obama announced sending 500 soldiers back to Iraq this week, there were actually 3,000 already back there somehow, somewhere. Now it’ll be 3,500, the size of a brigade. That appears to be only the start of a new escalation. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said this week that the Pentagon may reestablish a series of new bases in Iraq. He’s calling them “lily pads,” as if the bases are to be just little bucolic stops of camouflaged Monets from Tikrit to Kirkuk to Mosul. ISIS must be licking its chops at getting so many new American targets to shoot at, since massacring Syrians and Iraqis doesn’t seem to get them the marketing buzz they crave. (It’s not just an ISIS thing: Americans, too, could care less about the mass-murdering of Arabs. Lop an Anglo’s pinkie though and it might as well be Hiroshima on the Hudson.)
What shouldn’t be a surprise to most is that Obama is once again throwing American troops in a war zone without Congressional authorization. He did it in Libya, he did it in Pakistan. Why bother follow the law now. Congress isn’t eager to stand in his way, with half its members delirious for more bombings. But the War Powers Act isn’t window dressing, and it’s not just a Congressional check on presidential power. It’s the most direct invocation of public will in the face of a war. There’s nothing vague about it. Forty-eight hours after sending troops into a war zone, the president is required to notify Congress, starting a 60-day clock. By the end of those 60 days, either the president secures a formal authorization to keep those troops at war, restarts the clock for an additional 30 days, he must withdraw the troops.
We may disagree about whether we should be back in Iraq or not. But there should be no disagreement about the law. It reminds us that only Congress, not the president, gets to declare war. And it gives Congress the responsibility to clearly justify to the public whatever decision it makes, answering essential questions along the way.
In this case, neither Obama nor Congress has explained what the aim is in Iraq. If it’s to defeat ISIS, then 3,000 won’t do it. But ask Americans if they have the stomach for another war in Iraq, and they’ll tell you no. If it’s to retake Ramadi and a few other cities, the president is not telling us what it’ll take to keep these cities in the right hands, absent a permanent American presence. Again, if you ask most Americans if they’re willing to foot the bill of a new occupation, they’ll tell you no, especially if those troops are propping up a corrupt and authoritarian Shiite Iraqi regime that refuses to govern inclusively, ignoring Sunnis and giving ISIS a rich recruiting ground.
To be sure, ISIS is a creation of America. It didn’t rise in the wake of American withdrawal, as stateside warmongers like to simplify it to absolve themselves of their recent crime. It rose as the nearly decade-long American occupation wrecked Iraqi society and launched the mass recruitment of militants the same way that the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan led to al-Qaeda’s creation (with generous funding from American taxpayers). For years, enormous proportions of American arms and aid made its way into insurgent hands. For a time the American occupation bought off Sunni tribesmen. But the money was running out while Americans were still there. So was Sunni patience in the face of a Shiite government that had no interest in conciliation. Had American troops remained past 2011, they’d merely have become the target of the same insurgency under ISIS’s new, deadlier guise. The American occupation enabled a civil war, tried to fight it, then retreated. It was no “withdrawal.” it was a lost war.
And now Obama is doing what no American president or general has ever done before: re-start a war long lost. Nothing is about to change. Iraq is increasingly looking like Afghanistan, with a different version of the Taliban in ISIS, and American troops sucked back into fighting a civil war in which they don’t belong.
If they do, then let’s hear that case be made. Sending more troops and ignoring the law doesn’t cut it. And getting more Americans killed once again in an unwinnable war turns the clock back 12 years to a time when Barack Obama himself was saying this: “What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I’m opposed to is a rash war.”
Well, he’s got his dumb war now. And he’s fighting it just as his predecessor did: rashly and illegally.
Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him on Twitter @PierreTristam.
I pray that America survives Obama.
Obama 2015 says
What has he done that we need to survive?
Last time I looked 2 towers haven’t collapsed in NYC and 3 million people didn’t lose their jobs in 6 years.
To all that vote….
No more LEFTYS!!!!
That’s what’s wrong with this country. We have a left handed president.
No its a unqualified president that cares more about looking cool for TV spots and shaking hands and offering double talk with NO real understanding of what he is saying. He fires any general that doesn’t agree with him and does everything to put terrorist back on the streets (releasing Bin Ladens body guards) . Hurry up Jan 2017.
Obama 2015 says
This this about Bush Sr or Bush Jr?
The Guantanamo Bay detention camp has thousands of inmates there. About 60 of them are Bodyguards.
We are holding most of them with no trail and a huge financial cost to taxpayers . And when we do bring them to court to convict them the cases are getting thrown out do to lack of proof.
So we spent years holding these guys and they just walk anyway. Now they just keep the actual real terrorists and not the guy driving the truck or playing look out.
Since Obama has been president he has killed more terrorists and had the guts to send in Seal team 6 to get Bin Laden when generals and his own VP said not to.
Tom Jacks says
Yes Obama is acting illegally, as he has throughout his entire Presidency. Bush HAD Congressional approval, Obama didn’t.
Obama 2015 says
Bush HAD Congressional approval on lies after a Terror attack. Lets be honest here.
His whole life has been lies and illegal actions. He should be deported because he’s not a citizen.
He’s not a citizen………….Which birther convinced you of this? Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich?
Stud Muffin says
I have dreams of making love to both Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann while watching Bill O’Riley nightly news…..What’s with the Pres and that left handed “girlie ” pitch ?
Actually the “birther” thing stated with Hillary. She is the original birther.
There are many good points in your article but claiming ISIS is a creation of America is NOT one of them. We have had troops in many countries, both invited and uninvited. Somehow none of those countries became a home to an ISIS. The truth is that ISIS is a creation of insane, radical Islamists, not America.
Had 0bama negotiated for a status of forces agreement that left some 15K troops in Iraq for training and support we would not see the rise of ISIL as we do now. It was a war of choice that Bush unnecessarily got us into a unnecessary and dumb withdrawal by 0bama that lead to this situation.
Bush LIED the US into that WAR!! Started the whole unrest in the Middle East into a new level of insanity! Causing the US loss of lives and TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS–And making Cheney and HALLIBURTON RICHER!!!
Obama 2015 says
Wrong. The war was over. Iraq needs to fight for their own country. Our tax dollars need to be used to take care of our country and make it stronger.
Do you know every hour taxpayers in the United States are paying $117,035 for Cost of War in Iraq. So that is 2,808,840 a day or about 19,661,880 a week. The yearly cost is 1,022,417,760 !!!!
Which one of the 15k troops is your son or daughter and did you have to buy body armor off Amazon for them?
I have TWO kids in the military. Yes the war was over and its was won by us. BUT the Nation of Iraq DID need our aid to fight off this new threat from islamists. had we left troops to not only to train but back up Iraqi forces we would not see the death and destruction from ISIL
Obama 2015 says
Thank them for their service but we put their lives on the line sometimes for the wrong reasons.
We did leave troops in Iraq as promised by the Bush agreement.
Once you take out ISIS another group will pop up.
You can’t win. Bush SR was right back in the early 1990’s to leave after Saddam left Kuwait.
Also do you think the world would really care what was going on there if we didn’t need the oil?
Could be the slippery slope ala LBJ and Vietnam. Lindsey Graham wants 10,000 more American troops in Iraq. No easy answers here. More Americans there is not the way.
Walter Brennan says
BERNIE SANDERS 2016.
Bern Baby Bern!
Obama 2015 says
He has my vote
There have been many dumb mistakes that have led to the rise of ISIS, even before George W. Bush, if we are to be honest. The war in Iraq just made it much much worse, as we had only our arrogance to let us in and no afterplan at all to get us out. The vacuum that resulted from all our “unsustainable alliances” made it possible for radical extremist and fundamentalist groups to run rampant and grow like weeds in a barren desert whose only true fruits appear to oil and hate. We want control of the first but there is no way to accomplish that without risking more global explosions of the second.
Can all those birthers be wrong????????????????????
Obama 2015 says
The newspaper in Hawaii announced his birth in 1961. I guess they knew then a single mom would raise a kid with the middle name Hussein to be president.
I believe the birthers more so then the liar we have in the White House. Once he leaves it will have to be fumigated.
Well M& M today is your Lucky Day, Mark Richter needs a campaign manager and from your stated Political Comments you could assume a partnership of ideals, that is he lies and you nod your head in approval.
Richter does’nt need a campaign manager when there are people like you who are in denial. Richter needs an orange suit and should be part of the people cleaning the sides of roads.
The war(s) in the middle east didn’t just get dumb.
They have been that way since Dubya ,Cheney, Rice etc started them.
Really you don’t think it was right to go after those in Afghanistan who where responsible for 9/11?
he is bringing about the destruction of america he is doing this in a deliberate manner
wake up time is running out his muslims friends want total control of america.
Obama 2015 says
Give me a break… I got this email when Clinton was president and I was using AOL.