The White House has announced that they have informed Congress they are sending 275 troops to protect American personal stationed in Iraq. This is understandable. But it still leads me to say something I rarely do in political discussions.
Additionally the White House said it is considering sending very limited armed troops to Iraq to help train and advice the challenged Iraqi military. This is a very important aid for the Iraq Army. Which leads me to say the following.
The White insists that they will not be dragged into another war. And happily, I do believe that that is their intention. I also believe that the more American personal who are there, the more it's possible to have something go terribly wrong, which requires more support and riles the American public into demanding more action. I don't believe this will happen -- but I don't discount it either.
Oddly, the best news I heard was that the U.S. has started conversations with Iran, of all people, to help find a way to end the crisis. Clearly this will outrage a large segment of the GOP, but then I suspect anything the president does about the crisis -- or about anything -- will outrage a large segment of the GOP, so I wouldn't lose much sleep over it. I think only by being in contact with people you have disagreements with can you have a chance to overcome those disagreements. More to the point, Iran is probably the most powerful force in the Muslim world, and if any country can exert influence, it's them. Of course, it's made all the dicier since they are probably even greater enemies with Iraq than with the U.S., but I also suspect that much as they're happy to see Iraq in disarray they don't the area destabilized.
Mind you, I don't expect a lot, much or anything to necessarily come out of the talks here, but perhaps it can lay the groundwork for the future. But it's still a smart thing to do.
In the end, while the Republicans are swirling around in their outrage and pointing their fingers at the president, all I can think is that this disaster in Iraq is precisely what people against the war were warning would happen if President Bush went ahead and got involved in Iraq. All those empty "experts" who pushed for war in Iraq -- and the Bill Kristol's of the world who said it was a "two-month war" and the Donald Rumsfelds who said the war "It could last six days, maybe six weeks, but I doubt six months," and the Paul Wolfowitz's who said there's no evidence that Shia and Sunnis couldn't get along, ignoring the 1,300 years of history -- they are the ones who created this sinkhole. And there they are on television again, sucked in by the shameless segment of media inviting them to the table.
I have more confidence that with Barack Obama as president, these limited troops in Iraq won't turn into the limited "advisers" we once sent into Viet Nam to help train the troops. I just wish I wasn't put in a position of needing to have that confidence.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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