In an appearance on MSNBC with host Chuck Todd on Tuesday, former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz insisted that the present crisis in Iraq in one that demands forward thinking and not an endless series of retrospectives on the Iraq War.
Of course, Wolfowitz has an obvious self-interest in making that assertion, and escaping the part he played in the 2003 invasion of Iraq is an impossible task. Though while maintaining that he would have conducted the war differently, and objecting to the term “architect,” the former deputy defense secretary defended his role in the war and argued that American withdrawal from Iraq was premature.
Wolfowitz added that abandoning Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a luxury the West cannot afford at the moment. “If we had walked away from [former South Korean Prime Minister] Syngman Rhee, who was the Maliki of his time, we would have had North Korea taking over South Korea,” Wolfowitz asserted.
He added that the threat posed by ISIS creating a safe haven in Iraq represents a clear and present threat to the homeland. “This is about preventing another 9/11,” he said.
While some may disregard this claim, it seems that Wolfowitz is not alone in this belief.
“At the end of the day, if ISIS continues, then we’ll have to — and succeeds, then we’ll have to consider what is the threat to us,” said chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) who also appeared on Todd’s program. “I believe ISIS would clearly want to launch attacks against the United States.”
“Whether it be successful or not would be a question, but their desire to do so and the ability to launch from a place in which they could act with impunity is something we have to consider in our national interest,” the ranking Democrat concluded.
Menendez joins former acting CIA director Mike Morell who told CBS News on Monday that one of ISIS’s goals, after the creation of a pan-Islamic caliphate in the Fertile Crescent, would be to launch attacks against Americans and the American homeland.
That’s as broad an ideological consensus on matters of national security and foreign affairs as it gets. How long can President Barack Obama resist that kind of pressure before acting?