Call this the great We told you so from the neocons, written by one of the best thinkers of the group. Former VP Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz Cheney partner for a broadside against the Obama administration’s confused and drifting foreign policy, especially in regard to Iraq and Afghanistan. They write that allies in that region have asked them in dismay to explain what Obama’s strategic plan is, why he’s tossing way hard-fought gains in Iraq, and why all of a sudden he’s playing footsie with Iran:
On a trip to the Middle East this spring, we heard a constant refrain in capitals from the Persian Gulf to Israel, “Can you please explain what your president is doing?” “Why is he walking away?” “Why is he so blithely sacrificing the hard fought gains you secured in Iraq?” “Why is he abandoning your friends?” “Why is he doing deals with your enemies?”
In one Arab capital, a senior official pulled out a map of Syria and Iraq. Drawing an arc with his finger from Raqqa province in northern Syria to Anbar province in western Iraq, he said, “They will control this territory. Al Qaeda is building safe havens and training camps here. Don’t the Americans care?”
Our president doesn’t seem to. Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing. He seems blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America.
When Mr. Obama and his team came into office in 2009, al Qaeda in Iraq had been largely defeated, thanks primarily to the heroic efforts of U.S. armed forces during the surge. Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace. Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.
The tragedy unfolding in Iraq today is only part of the story. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are resurgent across the globe. According to a recent Rand study, between 2010 and 2013, there was a 58% increase in the number of Salafi-jihadist terror groups around the world. During that same period, the number of terrorists doubled.
In the face of this threat, Mr. Obama is busy ushering America’s adversaries into positions of power in the Middle East. First it was the Russians in Syria. Now, in a move that defies credulity, he toys with the idea of ushering Iran into Iraq. Only a fool would believe American policy in Iraq should be ceded to Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.
The impulse to ally with Iran and to essentially flip American policy on its head is a dead giveaway about Obama’s strategic thinking. It’s non-existent. American policy in this region has been entirely reactionary, a game of checkers in a region where everyone else plays three-dimensional chess. The only strategy Obama has is withdrawal, and the White House has so little preparation for the predictable outcomes of that strategy that they grasp at straws when they arise.
Hence, we have the strange sight of an American outreach to Iran to intercede in Iraq when the rest of the Sunni states in the area have aligned with the US precisely because they fear increased Iranian hegemony. We were prepared to bomb Syria with little forethought on the consequences, and now we’re lining up with the state sponsor of Hezbollah to deal with our failure in Iraq — even though Hezbollah is propping up the regime we wanted to bomb last year in Syria. It’s one reaction after another.
On the other hand, the Cheneys are likely whistling into the wind here. There hasn’t been much polling on Iraq, but the PPP poll taken over the weekend shows that the neocon policy is even less popular than Obama’s leadership at the moment. Even with the looming disaster facing Baghdad and by extension American policy, and even with the threat that ISIS represents to the region and eventually to the US directly, only 20% want American troops back in Iraq. The majority want a diplomatic “mobilization” to deal with ISIS, which as I wrote yesterday would look pretty strange, since ISIS is an unapologetic terrorist organization. The American public is as confused as the Obama administration at the moment, and Obama’s leadership will likely keep them that way … as well as everyone else in the world too, especially our allies.