Serious threats by al Qaida insurgents to destabilize Iraq leave many Americans unsurprised that the U.S. is again being called on to do more than help. It’s a troubling notion for a country that has lost thousands of American lives in the Iraq War and left tens of thousands of other soldiers with debilitating war injuries.
We may have wanted to believe that our onetime call to this unusual nation-destroying and then nation-building would be all that was needed after the last of the American ground forces were pulled in 2011.
But the world, unfortunately for Americans, cannot be fixed so simply. Al Qaida insurgents have made significant and serious gains, taking over government buildings and controlling important oil regions and even Iraq’s second biggest city in Mosul.
Even U.S. Security trainers had to be evacuated from an airbase for a threat by the insurgents. On Monday, Obama notified Congress that 275 troops may be needed to shore up security at the American Embassy in Baghdad.
A Shiite government reluctant to share power with Sunnis should have expected this resistance. They appear to have underestimated the response to their political roadblocks to sharing power with Sunnis.
Now the Obama Administration is urging them once again to make sure all Iraqis feel a part of the government. But it may be too little too late as the U.S. moves aircraft carriers closer to the region and readies new “security advisers.”
So now we are faced with providing more security training. The level of Iraqi security force training has deteriorated. Iraq’s government is asking for weapons and drones to push back the insurgencies. The Obama administration has already said it will not be willing to put American boots back on the ground.
In our urgency to create a new world order in Iraq and the Middle East, we’ve underestimated the costs. Now there is a cost of doing nothing in response to the insurgency. Our elected leaders have tough choices, but they are not likely to have the same popular or political support they did the first time around.
Our leaders may not have learned from our mistakes but the people have.