Does President Obama understand that Iraq 2014 is very different from Iraq 2002?
Barrack Obama came on the national scene as a critic of the Iraq War. I'm sure that we're all familiar with his 2002 Chicago speech and all of the criticism of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq.
In all fairness, Obama was a state senator in 2002 and never had to vote "yes or no" on the war resolution. I'm not convinced that a US Senator Obama would have voted against the resolution. It's easy to be against something that you don't have to vote on.
That was then and this is now.
Iraq 2014 is no longer about a US invasion or whether or not Saddam Hussein had WMDs.
Iraq 2014 is about a US ally in a troubled region and the future of countries like Jordan and Syria.
And Iraq today is also about Iran, as David Ignatius points out:
"The covert campaign in Iraq was directed by Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and it included a range of different Shiite figures around Maliki. This ability to ride many horses at once is a mark of Suleimani's operating style. The Iranians also benefit from intelligence relationships that in some cases date back 40 years.
Iran has drawn its cards from a full deck of Iraqi militias. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who allegedly helped plan the 1983 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, now directs the IRGC-backed insurgent group known asKataib Hezbollah. Qais al-Khazali, charged with kidnapping and killing U.S. Marines in Karbala in 2007, runs an IRGC-allied insurgent group known as Asaib al-Haq, or the League of the Righteous. A third Iraqi Shiite militia is known as the Promised Day Brigades. At Iran's covert direction, fighters from all three militias have been sent to Syria to battle Sunni rebels there.
Iran allegedly has been able to use Iraq as a staging ground for operations to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad thanks partly to Hadi al-Ameri, the Iraqi minister of transportation. He headed the Badr Brigade, a pro-Iranian militia."
Iran walking into Iraq? How does this help US interests in the region? It does not.
President Obama, and the anti-Iraq war wing need to check out the calendar. It's 2014 not 2002.
President Obama needs to speak publicly and draw some lines that Al Qaeda cannot cross. Also, he must make it clear that the US will use air power to push back militants in Iraq.
Yes, no one wants to go back into Iraq. At the same, does anyone in the Obama administration want Iraq to turn into a chaotic state threatening its neighbors?
How does chaos in Iraq make the second term successful? It doesn't. In fact, Iraq is exactly the kind of problem that could consume the Obama term.