Many of President Obama’s foreign policy failures are the product of his badly misguided ideology. But some flow simply from his inability to understand how the world works. (The two defects are, of course, related).
Take the current crisis in Iraq. The country is disintegrating, Iraqi soldiers are deserting, some of those who aren’t have been executed barbarically, and Baghdad is under serious threat.
What does Obama do? He urges Prime Minister Maliki to make his government more inclusive of his political opponents and to loosen his grip on power.
To appreciate the foolishness of this response, consider how Obama behaves in response to the smallest political crisis here at home. His response is always first to rally the base.
How, then, can Obama suppose that Maliki, in response to an existential crisis, will alienate his base by ceding power to opponents?
It isn’t going to happen. In fact, as the Washington Post reports, Maliki is actually “tightening his grip on power”:
Reinforced by a call to arms from the country’s top Shiite cleric and by promises of support from Iran, Maliki has set about rallying the country’s Shiite majority behind his leadership as Sunni extremists bear down on Baghdad.
Negotiations on the formation of a new government have been suspended, and instead, Shiite factions who had sought to prevent Maliki from securing a third term in office by aligning with Sunni and Kurdish politicians have thrown their support behind him.
That’s how the world works, Mr. President.
Obama is certainly correct in his view that Maliki’s divisive policies and authoritarian tendencies have contributed significantly to the current crisis. Indeed, this view is widely shared among insiders in Baghdad.
But, according to the Post, the insiders recognize that, with the barbarians at the gates, this is not the time to attempt a political do-over. Rather, it’s the time for a military mobilization. And it’s the time for nations that purport to care about Iraq to engage militarily.
Military engagement doesn’t suit Obama. But it suits Iran perfectly. Thus, it will be Iran, if any nation, that comes out ahead.
And afterwards, don’t expect Iran to press Maliki for a kinder, more inclusive government. That’s not how the world works, Mr. President.