The Washington Post reports that attacks are on the rise in Iraq and that al Qaeda is increasingly behind them. On Monday, more than 100 people were killed in attacks across Iraq. According to the Post, “the attacks, spread across 13 cities and more than 40 locations, targeted mostly Shiite neighborhoods and appeared to be the work of al-Qaeda in Iraq.”
The Obama administration claims that al Qaeda poses no serious threat in Iraq because it lacks the support of Sunnis, who turned decisively against al Qaeda following the U.S. surge in 2007. However, the Post suggests that Sunnis may be tilting back towards al Qaeda in light of the anti-Sunni posture of Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s Shiite prime minister.
The rise in violence and the increasing influence of al Qaeda in Iraq confirm the validity of Mario Loyola’s observation that “Bush ended the War in Iraq; what Obama ended was our influence there.” Loyola writes:
It was President Bush who ended the war in Iraq — by winning it. For Obama to claim that he ended the war in Iraq by bringing the troops home is as ridiculous as if he claimed credit for ending World War II by bringing troops home from Germany and Japan.
All Obama ended in Iraq was our position of strategic influence there, a priceless position gained after a horrifying sacrifice. Just imagine what the fate of Germany and Japan (and of democracy) might have been if we had abandoned those countries’ nascent democratic institutions at the start of the Cold War? We learned in the years after World War I that democracies are most vulnerable to subversion and demagoguery when they are youngest. It was the long-term presence of U.S. troops that allowed stable institutions of democratic politics and flourishing commerce to sink deep roots in Japan, South Korea, Germany, and elsewhere on the periphery of the free world. A long-term presence in Iraq would have allowed us to do much the same, standing as bulwark against Iranian influence and guiding Iraq to a role of democratic leadership in a part of the world that desperately needs modern democracy to succeed.
Instead Obama utterly neglected Iraq, and made no effort to maintain the strategic position that the Bush administration bequeathed to him. As elsewhere in the Middle East, the Obama administration has merely presided over the erosion of American influence, leaving us far less able to safeguard our most vital interests, or ensure the future peace and prosperity of the Middle East.
And now we are seeing the fruits of Obama’s neglect.