As Violence Overcomes the Nation, Is Iraq Still America's Problem?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

An Iraqi Kurdish security guard (Peshmerger) stands guard as Iraqi families fleeing violence in the northern Nineveh province gather at a Kurdish checkpoint. June 11, 2014 (SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty)

Everyone remembers the fall of Baghdad in 2003 after the massive U.S. invasion. But now we may be on the verge of seeing a second fall of Baghdad—only this time to Islamist forces are taking major Iraqi cities one by one while the Iraqi military seems helpless.

Just hours after militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took control of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul—Iraq's second largest city—members of the Al Qaeda offshoot advanced to Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein.

The International Organization of Migration estimates that at least 500,000 people have fled Mosul.

"A lot of this aggression is targeting innocent Iraqi citizens—it’s despicable," Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said yesterday during a news briefing. "And we stand with the Iraqi people as they fight it."

Though Earnest asserts that the violence is "despicable," some other high-ranking officials are more optimistic that a solution can be reached. 

“Although the news from Mosul is very bad, I think one positive aspect from this may be that the groups are indeed coming together to address this challenge,” Stuart E Jones, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told a Senate committee. “At least we’re seeing signs of that in the last 24 hours.”

Retired Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik oversaw the training of Iraqi security forces from 2007 to 2008. He is now a senior fellow at the Institute for the Study of War.

As the crisis unfolds in Iraq and appeals for U.S. military assistance fall on deaf ears in Washington, can America afford to ignore what's going on? Gen. Dubik doesn't think so—he says that America needs to find the political will to help the Iraqis fight back.

"What is clear to everyone is that the Iraqis cannot stop the offensive by themselves," he says. "The situation is dire, and we can help with that—air strikes, air controllers, and advisors to help the Iraqis plan and execute these large scale operations that we know they do not have the capacity to do."

But all are not so hopeful. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi tells the BBC that outside help will add "fuel to the fire."

Guests:

James M. Dubik

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

Comments [10]

We install a Shia /Kurd government hell bent on exacting revenge on the Sunnis and when they do ,and the sunnis resist their oppression by the government, we label them all Alquada terrorists. Same in Syria where now opposing a brutal Stalinist like, Russian/Iranian backed dictator ,gets you labeled an alquada terrorist. So now all sunnis ,are basically terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. Shame on us for our support of oppressive regimes and expecting them to continue living compliantly under such oppressive regimes. Their resistance makes them freedom fighters. The media narrative is false and designed to support a holocaust of Sunnis! We are now complicit with attempts at genocide, in Syria and soon to be ,in Iraq apparently!

Jun. 13 2014 09:31 AM
Bill Tucker from Washington, DC

The current violence in Iraq is being created by Islamic fundamentalists that have essentially taken over much of Syria and are now trying to extend their influence in Iraq. These are not people who are interested in a democratically elected government or creating an environment that is best for all Iraqi citizens. The stability of Iraq is in the best interest of the U.S. and the current administration appears to be doing nothing and certainly not lending the support to the elected Iraqi government that the U.S. should be giving. Iraq is an example of a democratically elected government in a region of the world where democratic governments are sorely lacking. Yes, the Maliki administration has had its problems but so did the U.S. in its 200+ years of existence, including a war against the British and a civil war. Few countries transition directly from a brutal dictatorship (Saddam Hussein) to a stable democracy without some hiccups in the process. Iraq also has the third largest oil reserves in the world and much of the free and democratic world needs a reliable supply of oil. The US, as the world's strongest democracy and the only truly democratic super power, should make every effort to sustain political stability in Iraq and assist the Maliki government with air strikes and whatever other support is needed to defeat the Islamic radicals and support a democratically elected government in an area of the world where this is rare.

Jun. 12 2014 04:44 PM

During this segment the Domestic policies by Prime Minister al-Maliki that in large part have fueled the insurgency were given short-shrift. The guest said something like "Yeah they are bad policies, but we need to deal with the insurgency problem now."

This short term thinking is the kind of thing that keeps us endlessly involved in these conflicts. So we go in and help suppress the Sunni's in Iraq, at the cost of billions, and then al-Malaki goes back to business as usual. Two years later the process will repeat itself. No.

Also a personal Peeve. I'd like the host John Hockenberry to have the class to call our President either President, or President Obama, not just "Obama." I know that he doesn't like the President, but this is supposed to be a show produced by NPR, not FOX News.

Jun. 12 2014 04:04 PM

During this segment the Domestic policies by Prime Minister al-Maliki that in large part have fueled the insurgency were given short-shrift. The guest said something like "Yeah they are bad policies, but we need to deal with the insurgency problem now."

This short term thinking is the kind of thing that keeps us endlessly involved in these conflicts. So we go in and help suppress the Sunni's in Iraq, at the cost of billions, and then al-Malaki goes back to business as usual. Two years later the process will repeat itself. No.

Also a personal Peeve. I'd like the host John Hockenberry to have the class to call our President either President, or President Obama, not just "Obama." I know that he doesn't like the President, but this is supposed to be a show produced by NPR, not FOX News.

Jun. 12 2014 03:56 PM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

Pottery Barn may not actually have a 'You break it, you buy it' policy but U.S. foreign policy ought to. Would Iraq be having these deadly sectarian issues if we had left the Ba'ath Party intact (even if it meant Saddam Hussein still in power)? Possible but not likely.

Food for thought the next time an U.S. President appears to have to much at stake in his personal drumbeat for war.

Jun. 12 2014 03:27 PM
Jerrold Richards from Lyle, Washington

I've got a great idea! Let's go back to 2003 and not invade Iraq after all.

Jun. 12 2014 02:55 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." - Michael Corleone in "The Godfather III"

Jun. 12 2014 01:11 PM
Bill from Portland, Oregon

The situation in Iraq is most likely inevitable and reflects the reality that the attempts by the previous administration to impose a USA solution in Iraq, overthrow Hussein, etc. was doomed from the beginning. Who benefited from the US invasion and war in Iraq except the military industrial forces such as Haliburton, Blackwater, etc? And who paid for this - all those Americans and Iraquis killed.
John, please help the American people see the big picture and the lessons we hopefully learn from this and don't fall for a simple solution such as US airstrikes, more US troops, etc.

Jun. 12 2014 12:31 PM
Kelvin Armstrong from Dallas

I would like to know why the issue of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl desertion was not raised prior to his release. Why is the media, (your show) so quick to prosecute a fellow veteran? He is being used as a political pawn with the help of the media. The issue with the US and war is, many including the media are quick to rush in, yet the majority and media are not willing to do what it takes to win.

Jun. 12 2014 12:28 PM
Michelangelo from Miami FL

Iraq is a problem we created. Our former president kicked this ant hill using a lie and motivated by revenge. We can't blame the Russians for this mess like we could for Afghanistan. We're going to have to return to Iraq and help fix this particular problem. On the bright side it will let insurgents know that the government there has back up.

Jun. 12 2014 10:07 AM

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