Despite Pres. Barack Obama’s continued insistence that he has pulled the U.S. out of endless – and unsuccessful – wars in the Mideast, American military involvement continues there.
Witness to the continued engagement, and in fact what appears to be an escalation of that commitment, is in the official news within the last 24 hours of another as yet unnamed Navy Seal killed. He appears to have been an adviser in what is a growing offensive to retake Mosul. A city normally of about two and a half million people in Northern Iraq, Mosul has been occupied since June 2014 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and become one its crown jewels.
This is the third death announced since last fall in the more recent American engagement in the region. Theoretically, Americans are only acting as noncombatant but in the fog of war that distinction may fall away quickly The news was blanketed in the extended government and general media publicity given the fifth anniversary of the killing of Osama bin-Laden, The elimination of bi-Laden, as well as the continued drone strikes by U.S. forces of known and wanted terrorists, is offered as proof that the Obama Administration has been effectively pursuing a campaign and in eliminating enemies in the continuing struggle against Islamic terrorism.
With what we know of the U.S. commitment there these latest casualties are Special Forces or Seals embedded in local forces to give spine to Iraq government military efforts. It is part of what Obama ordered “to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL” That is the way Obama has characterized the renewed effort of the U.S to end the base of the new terror threat in a September 2014 speech to the nation.
But the refusal by the Obama Administration to acknowledge that the enemy is Islamic terrorism, with its ties, however, obscure and rejected by other Muslims, is hampering the prosecution of any effective effort against Daesh [ISIS or ISIL]. It is no secret that a larger part of the worldwide 1.3 billion Muslim community is neutered by fear of the minority pursuing jihad, or indeed has a substantial minority sympathetic to the Muslim tradition of conquest and conversion of non-Muslims. So long as Daesh is victorious – that is, able to lay a claim that it is a new rising Muslim caliphate or worldwide regime – it will be gathering adherents in the Muslim world. As always, the military and hits supporters wants a maximum effort as soon as possible to destroy the enemy.
Nor is the Obama Administration yet willing to acknowledge that contrary to the advice of the U.S. military, immediately on entering office he removed any American military presence in Iraq. He claimed, although denouncing the two Bush Administrations’ intervention to pull down the dictator Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party, that he was leaving a stable and peaceful country behind. That immediately turned out not to be the case, and his critics have argued that unlike our continued occupations after World War II of Germany and South Korea, it was predictable that we were leaving imminent chaos. That is in part why there have been 260 deaths added during the Obama Administration to the 4497 deaths since the Iraq wars began.
Now a new danger has arisen. By feeding American forces incrementally into the current effort to destroy Daesh, Obama risks that Daesh as long as it exists will take on new and effective strategies to counter the U.S. and Iraqi anti-terrorist forces. Furthermore, it is clear that with its very sophisticated propaganda and successful financial manipulation, Daesh is gaining ground with the various Islamic terrorist movements in Libya, West, North and Central Africa and Indonesia as well as in Syria and Iraq. And through its influence in the Muslim Brotherhood, nominally Islamist forces seeking to gain power through the ballot – and hang on to it – Daesh is putting pressure on Turkey and other Muslim-majority countries such as Pakistan with their jihadist threats.
Washington is, in fact, groping into a new full-fledged conflict in the Middle East without proper planning and preparation. The kind of incrementalism that the current Obama strategy indicates is to a considerable extent the cause of our stalemate in Korea and our ultimate defeat in Vietnam. It is not a path we should be pursuing.
* This article has been posted on yeoldecrabb.com, May 5, 2016