And What Was the Republican Plan for Iraq, Exactly?

Moe Lane over at RedState thinks that Reuters and Barack Obama somehow are to blame for the retaliation looting and killings in Tikrit after the routing of ISIS. And that murder and looting shouldn’t really be newsworthy because heck, that’s what happens in war:

Of course the groups sacking the city publicly executed anybody who was, or looked to be, Islamic State. Of course the city got looted. Of course bodies were dragged through the streets. Anybody who knows anything about warfare knows that such things are the default when it comes to a city being captured, or recaptured. It shouldn’t happen. It’s not moral or ethical to let it happen, either. And it will still happen, anyway, unless you are prepared to stamp on it from the start.

Unfortunately for everyone concerned, the military forces that could have prevented Tikrit from being sacked – heck, kept it from being captured by Islamic State death cultists in the first place – were stood down from Iraq by Barack Obama in 2011. With, might I add, the tacit corporate approval and support of Reuters.

It’s one thing to question military strategy and the relative merits of intervention and self-determinacy of nations. But it’s more than a little precious to see the same people who spent the whole Bush Administration cheerleading the illegal and ill-advised invasion of Iraq and calling out as cowards and traitors anyone who opposed it, now blame the press and the Obama Administration for the violence there.

Moe Lane and all his compatriots aided and abetted an invasion conducted for corporate gain under false pretenses that sent the entire region spiraling into conflict, strengthening Iran and precipitating a series of crises that ultimately led to the formation of ISIS due to the oppression of Iraqi Sunnis and the post-Saddam power vaccuum. These same Republicans wanted a more aggressive military operation against Assad in Syria–even though it would have strengthened ISIS. And these same Republicans have been itching like crazy to drop bombs on Iran, undermining our ultimately successful diplomatic efforts, further destabilizing the region and weakening one of our most effective regional allies against ISIS.

So now the folks at RedState, having been wrong not only in absolute moral terms but also from the perspective of sheer realpolitik and national self-interest, see fit to blame the Administration for some the ugliness in Tikrit after ISIS was forced out? Because there weren’t more American troops present?

As if more American troops would have prevented the violence. Is Moe Lane unaware of the number of Iraqis killed by American troops in the initial invasion? Has he not seen pictures of Abu Ghraib? Does he not know that not only did American forces not prevent widespread looting in Baghdad, we couldn’t even be bothered to stop Iraq’s most priceless treasures from being looted from its top museums?

But let’s assume for the moment that a stronger American presence in Iraq would have prevented some of the retributive violence in Tikrit. What exactly did Moe Lane believe that a hypothetical President McCain or Romney would have done in Iraq? Keep more troops there? For how long, exactly? Did Republicans plan to simply occupy Iraq for decades? At what point would the nation be considered stable and safe enough to finally withdraw?

Republican foreign policy is a disaster. The existence of ISIS is directly on the heads of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and everyone who supported the invasion of Iraq. And yet those same people have the gall to blame the President (and the press!) for the ugly aftermath of ISIS’ removal from one of its strongholds, apparently because Democrats didn’t put enough American troops in harm’s way for long enough.

It’s a remarkable display of ignorance, poor judgment and shamelessness.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.