Eleven years after the capture of Baghdad by U.S. Forces and two years after the last American troops withdrew from that country, Iraq is burning. Militants from ISIS, which is an offshoot of al-Qaeda, are marching towards Baghdad and the Iraqi Army, which the U.S. has spent billions of dollars to help train and equip, has all but disintegrated. The country is on the verge of collapse.
There are increasing calls for the United States to get involved in this conflict. After all, the United States did contribute to the instability by the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Indeed, the U.S. appears to be laying the groundwork for an air campaign against the ISIS militants. However, this would be a mistake because here’s an opportunity to get America’s enemies at work killing each other instead of focusing on the Great Satan.
The thing to know about Iraq is that it’s not so much a country, but a collection of various tribes who have nothing in common who were thrown together by Western leaders after WWI. You cannot build a nation where there is nothing in common and when the various constituent groups are more interested in their own selves and not in the greater good. The best solution in the long-term for the entity known as Iraq is a three partition with an Shiite Arab state in the south, a Sunni Arab state in the north, and a Kurdish state on the Turkish border. Any attempt to prop the failed entity known as Iraq will wind up being a wasted investment.
Now Iraq’s misfortune can be America’s opportunity. America’s enemies are gathering their forces for the new battle of Iraq. The Iranians and their Syrian allies are already intervening on behalf of the Shiite led government of Iraq. With the Sunni jihadists growing stronger and pulling forces in from Syria, here’s an opportunity for both sides to fight a long stalemate and hopefully sap each other’s strength. There are downsides, the first of which is that one side is going to ultimately prevail. Another downside is that this war will create a humanitarian catastrophe and will result in many civilians being dead and displaced. Finally, such an unstable, war-torn environment may wind up spawning an Osama bin Laden type such as the war-torn Afghanistan did.
While the U.S. must be ready to act if these guys threaten American interests or plot attacks against the homeland, getting involved in Iraq would be a major mistake. There is no upside to American intervention where would be flying combat air support for Iranian troops. Why give America’s Islamist enemies, whether Sunni or Shia, a new focus for their attacks when they’re fighting each other?
America’s role in Iraq should be limited to supporting an independent Kurdish state, where Americans are welcomed and are generally liked, because of our role in securing their de facto independence in 1991 with the “no fly zone” imposed on Saddam’s Iraq after the first Gulf War. Plus, the Kurds have oil.
Speaking of oil, maybe it’s time we started developing our own energy reserves domestically and stop relying on places that hate us for our energy needs.