Sep 30, 2015

Strong and Principled Foreign Policy: Iraq

This is the fifth post in a series on strong a principled foreign policy. Please click here for the first, second, third, and fourth posts.

Iraq is in far worse shape after President Obama’s ill-advised and unconditional withdrawal from the country. In large part because of the vacuum created by the absence of American leadership, ISIS now has a caliphate approximately the size of Great Britain, moderate Muslims, Coptic Christians, and even more innocent men, women, and children are being slaughtered, and cities that our Marines fought and died to liberate—like Ramadi—are controlled by extremists.

We need a new policy in Iraq.

As Leader McCarthy outlined in his Hay Initiative speech on foreign policy, we should have three goals in Iraq: “Defeat ISIS, marginalize Iranian influence and Iranian militias, and help to foster a system of political inclusiveness rather than sectarian division.”

To do that, Leader McCarthy advocated putting a limited number of U.S. Special Forces personnel on the ground who could “call in truly effective airstrikes and provide more effective support to the Iraqi Army, Sunni, and Kurdish units directly engaged in the fight.”

Micromanagement from the White House with overly-restrictive rules of engagement along with our limited intelligence picture means many of our combat missions flown over Iraq will continue to come back without having dropped a single bomb. 

But this is about more than just military action. We need to have a political plan as well. Leader McCarthy said,

Unlike during the surge in Iraq when Petraeus and Crocker had an effective political strategy to match our military strategy, no such effort exists today. Working with Iraqi leaders on an inclusive, non-sectarian governance plan is essential to move forward.

Security and peace can only be ensured in Iraq with a holistic strategy that frees our military to fight and win and engages Iraqi political leaders to make necessary reforms while negating detrimental outside influences from actors like Russia and Iran.