THE BLOG

Iraq's Final Hours

The United States has already sacrificed enough of its soldiers and treasury for Iraq during its eight years of involvement in that nation's so-called struggle for freedom. From the beginning, the war was based on a falsehood, namely the notion that Iraq harbored weapons of mass destruction. There turned out to be none. Yet, in pursuing this bloody and inconclusive war, we spent several trillion dollars, saw over 4400 of our soldiers die in action with another 32,000 casualties, and took away valuable resources from our own country that we should have used to deal with the worst economic calamity to hit U.S. since the Great Depression.

But, in any case, our responsibility with that land ended in 2010 when the Iraqis essentially kicked U.S. forces out of Iraq by refusing to sign a status of forces agreement with Washington. Iraq did not want U.S. forces to stay. It was finished with the American occupation. Iraq was admitting, too, that it had to deal with its internal predicaments on its own, not with the aid of its foreign ally. In fact, the Iraqis were right -- it was time for them to sort out their own problems on their own. As President John Kennedy once said about another war in which the U.S. was involved -- in Vietnam - "in the end, it is their war, not ours."

Yet, at this late date, some in Congress are now urging that we launch air strikes or bombing attacks on the insurgents to save the regime of Prime Minister Maliki. This would be a grave error. Most importantly, there is no way America will be able to guarantee that its air raids or drone strikes can actually retard the forward movement of thousands of ISIS ground forces. While we may kill a few militant fighters here and there -- such action will not be enough to change the outcome. Meantime we will cause immense collateral damage -- our missiles will wound or murder bystanders, civilians, and other innocent victims, making the US look once again like a cruel interloper.

In the end, as noted earlier, this is a conflict which only the Iraqis can resolve through the political will of the Maliki regime which now must broaden the base of his government by including in its ranks more Sunni and Kurd leaders, as well as rallying to its side the Shia militias inside Baghdad. In the final analysis, this is a test of whether the majority population of Iraq wants to save its government -- and its fragile democratic system -- or not. It is an Iraqi decision, not an American one.