It’s time for a long, hard look at U.S. strategy in Iraq
It turns out that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s assessment that many Iraqis lack the “will to fight” against?Islamic State terrorists may be accurate. What to do about that remains a question.
After Iraqi troops fled Ramadi in droves rather than fight IS forces, Carter pointed out what may have seemed obvious: many Iraqi soldiers did not even attempt to give battle. His comments angered Iraqi officials and forced the White House to backpedal in an effort to soothe our allies’ hurt feelings.
But during this week’s Group of Seven summit in Germany, President Barack Obama in essence made the same comment. He told reporters the U.S. does not have a “complete strategy” for training Iraqi troops to fight the terrorists.
And Obama added that the 3,000 Americans in Iraq to train that country’s troops sometimes represent “more training capacity than we’ve got recruits.”
In other words, Iraqis do not seem eager to enlist in the army and face combat against the terrorists.
Clearly, the Islamic State is one more example of U.S. officials failing to “connect the dots” on a terrorist group. The organization has been in existence for many years and was scoring military victories in Iraq more than a year ago.
How long, one wonders, does it take to develop a “complete strategy” for training Iraqi troops to fight the terrorists? And more to the point: Will Islamic State leaders delay new offenses to allow time for the United States and Iraq to get such a plan in place?
Of course they will not. That makes it imperative that Obama and other U.S. leaders assess the situation in Iraq objectively and point our strategy toward dealing with it realistically. Otherwise, there is no reason to believe the terrorists can be stopped – or prevented from using Iraq as a secure haven from which to launch attacks elsewhere.