It’s amusing to watch senior American officials doing their best to put a smiling face on the repeated American failures in Iraq since the departure of our troops at the end of 2011. Thus the Washington Post quotes one “senior US official involved in Iraq policy” as follows: “The smaller our presence, the more strategic our presence, the more effective we can be.”
That’s not how the Iraqis see it. In their very same article, Saleh al-Mutlak, the deputy prime minister and the senior Sunni in the government, is quoted as saying, “No one thinks America has influence now in Iraq. America could still do a lot if they wanted to. But I think because Obama chose a line that he is taking care of interior matters rather than taking care of outside problems, that made America weak — at least in Iraq.”
It’s hard to dispute Mutlak’s judgment, especially when the U.S. has had no luck in influencing Iraq’s conduct on the two most important issues of the day–Prime Minister Maliki’s growing tendency to use the security forces to target influential Sunni leaders and his unwillingness to interfere with Iranian flights to supply Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry once again raised the latter issue with Maliki during his quick visit to Baghdad–and predictably got nothing in response.
What a sad and pathetic conclusion to a decade of American intervention in Iraq. Having made vast sacrifices to secure that country’s future, we have now voluntarily walked away, with consequences that grow more serious by the day.