Meanwhile Back In (And To) Iraq...

For a special segment of our ruling class Iraq was the Bad War, and Obama has always been wary of winning the war but losing the narrative. But we are putting our toe back in the water:

U.S. Sends Arms to Aid Iraq Fight With Extremists


WASHINGTON — The United States is quietly rushing dozens of Hellfire missiles and low-tech surveillance drones to Iraq to help government forces combat an explosion of violence by a Qaeda-backed insurgency that is gaining territory in both western Iraq and neighboring Syria.

The move follows an appeal for help in battling the extremist group by the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who met with President Obama in Washington last month.

But some military experts question whether the patchwork response will be sufficient to reverse the sharp downturn in security that already led to the deaths of more than 8,000 Iraqis this year, 952 of them Iraqi security force members, according to the United Nations, the highest level of violence since 2008.

The Times reminds us how we reached this parlous state:

The surge in violence stands in sharp contrast to earlier assurances from senior Obama administration officials that Iraq was on the right path, despite the failure of American and Iraqi officials in 2011 to negotiate an agreement for a limited number of United States forces to remain in Iraq.

In a March 2012 speech, Antony J. Blinken, who is currently Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser, asserted that “Iraq today is less violent” than “at any time in recent history.”

The Times had more in this Sept 22 2012 article which noted the pre-election year posturing:

Mr. Obama has pointed to the American troop withdrawal last year as proof that he has fulfilled his promise to end the Iraq war. Winding down a conflict, however, entails far more than extracting troops.

In the case of Iraq, the American goal has been to leave a stable and representative government, avoid a power vacuum that neighboring states and terrorists could exploit and maintain sufficient influence so that Iraq would be a partner or, at a minimum, not an opponent in the Middle East.

But the Obama administration has fallen frustratingly short of some of those objectives.

The attempt by Mr. Obama and his senior aides to fashion an extraordinary power-sharing arrangement between Mr. Maliki and Mr. Allawi never materialized. Neither did an agreement that would have kept a small American force in Iraq to train the Iraqi military and patrol the country’s skies. A plan to use American civilians to train the Iraqi police has been severely cut back. The result is an Iraq that is less stable domestically and less reliable internationally than the United States had envisioned.

The civil war in Syria was well under way by late 2011 yet the current situation (as described in the original Times story)  seems to be a surprise to Team Obama:

A number of factors are helping the Qaeda affiliate. The terrorist group took advantage of the departure of American forces to rebuild its operations in Iraq and push into Syria. Now that it has established a strong foothold in Syria, it is in turn using its base there to send suicide bombers into Iraq at a rate of 30 to 40 a month, using them against Shiites but also against Sunnis who are reluctant to cede control.

Al Qaeda and other militants takes up residence at the border of weak and failed states? Who knew?

PILING ON: 'Priaire Weather' delivers the sort of progressive bleat I was expecting:

This action is not  expected to have much effect.  It's meant to be life-saving but, our military are saying,  it's not likely to " reverse the sharp downturn in security" in Iraq.  And it certainly suggests that we're doing this to preserve the idea that the Iraq invasion was justified rather than a serious misstep that set Iraq up for Muslim extremists.

Please - Obama's interest in vindicating the initial invasion is less than zero. Fortunately, Obama seems to be looking forward here rather than driving with his eyes locked on the rear-view mirror.

Providing a bit of hope in this holiday season is digby of Hullabaloo:

I don't know when those "birth pangs" of the Iraq democracy are finally going to end, but George W. Bush was probably right when he said we'll all be dead before we know how it comes out. Unfortunately, so will a lot of kids who deserved better.

Can't argue. But here is a blast from the past on Bush's inadequate planning, and a stab at whether the failure was in conception or execution.