On Dec. 14, 2011, President Obama proudly proclaimed the “end” to the Iraq war, announcing that “there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long." He was blasted by Sen. John McCain, a strong supporter of fighting to victory in Iraq: "I believe that history will judge this president's leadership with the scorn and disdain it deserves.” For nearly a decade, AEI scholars have written on the conduct of the Iraq war, the foundations of the invasion and the prospects for a postwar Iraq.
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When John Kerry ran for president in 2004, he dismissed the allies fighting alongside the United States in Iraq as a “trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted.”
Gen. Martin Dempsey's comments about the size of the Free Syrian Army force that the US can train is a tacit confession that the prospects for lasting success against the Islamic State are slim and distant.
The Islamic State is a threat to the United States of America, and that is the primary reason we must defeat it. The United States has capabilities that no other state or group in the world has, and that is why we must lead this effort.
Obama seems more concerned with distinguishing what he is doing in Iraq from what the George W. Bush administration did than he is with following a war strategy that will defeat the enemy.
The Islamic State is a clear and present danger to the security of the U.S. We must therefore pursue an iterative approach that tests basic assumptions, develops our understanding, and builds partnerships with willing parties on the ground, especially the Sunni Arabs in Iraq.
Very few people are willing to say openly that we can live with ISIS and contain it, but a great many people are advocating policies that will have precisely that effect.
It won’t just be Americans who are listening when President Obama speaks on Wednesday. The entire world, but most particularly our enemies, will be looking to see not just strategy, but determination and commitment. Over to you, Mr. President.