This country is still paying for the mistakes of George W. Bush—the worst President in our history. That distinction is not insignificant, given the likes of Warren G. Harding, Millard Filmore and Richard Nixon. The worst decision Bush ever made was invading Iraq without cause. One can only marvel at the magnitude of this particular idiocy given his numerous other decisions—economic, environmental, foreign and domestic—that have resulted in long-term damage to our nation.
The predictable civil war that now rages in Iraq is President Obama’s dilemma. He had a remarkable record at cleaning up his predecessor’s failures, though admittedly there is still much to do. The foreboding advice former Secretary of State Colin Powell gave to then-President Bush, “If you break it, you own it,” also known as the Pottery Barn doctrine, was a vast understatement. It is not Bush who owns this mess, but also the American people who own these decisions and their consequences. It is the current President who bears the burden of making smart decisions, especially when there are no good options.
President Obama’s policy of limited military support for the government of Iraqi Primi Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose apartheid-like policies are the driving force behind the opposition, is a delaying tactic at best. It provides no real solution to the underlying reasons for the insurgency. Vice President Joe Biden proposed the only long-term answer to Iraq in 2006. The plan recognizes the deep cultural and religious divisions in a nation that was artificially created by Britain in 1916.
Hundreds of thousands of lives have already been lost in Iraq. The US has suffered more than 4,000 casualties in the country, and thousands of our troops have been wounded. The price tag is $1.7 trillion and growing. And for what? The ego of a maniac; George W. Bush.
Bush’s daddy issues, his religious fervor and his desire for unlimited oil fueled a personal fantasy of glory that led us into this catastrophe. It would be a grave mistake for the current President to move in a direction of military reengagement. He has stated he does not intend to do so.
Instead, he should send his VP to Iraq and begin to convene all the necessary parties to implement a plan that should have been rolled out in 2006.
There is no denying that we must still deal with those dangerous enemies, including the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and al-sham (ISIS), which has exploited the situation the Bush Adminisration created. But this President has shown that operations directed at key individuals instead of mass populations can be more effective than “shock and awe.” The killing of Osama Bin Laden and the capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah, who masterminded the Benghazi attack, shows the resolve of the U.S. military.
The last people who should be giving advice are the Neo-cons, who seem more interested in getting this administration to share the blame for their failed policies than providing any constructive solutions. Dick Cheney and his crowd should crawl back under their rocks and allow reasoned adults to make the tough decisions required to solve a problem past recklessness created.
Bombing Iraq and sending troops is not the answer. We’ve been there, done that.