Pat Buchanan

The panic that engulfed this capital after the fall of Mosul, when it appeared that the Islamist fanatics of ISIS would overrun Baghdad, has passed.

And the second thoughts have begun.

"U.S. Sees Risk in Iraqi Airstrikes," ran the June 19 headline in the Washington Post, "Military Warns of Dangerous Complications."

This is welcome news. For if it is an unwritten rule of republics not to commit to war unless the nation is united, America has never been less prepared for a Mideast war.

Our commander in chief is a reluctant warrior who wants his legacy to be ending our two longest wars. And just as Obama does not want to go back into Iraq, neither does the U.S. military.

The American people want no new war, and Congress does not want to be forced to vote on such a war.

Our foreign policy elites are split half a dozen ways -- on whether to bomb or not to bomb, on who our real enemies are in Syria and Iraq, on whose support we should and should not accept, on what our strategic goals are, and what are the prospects for success.

Consider the bombing option.

Undoubtedly, U.S. air power could blunt an attack on Baghdad. But air power cannot retake Mosul or the Sunni Triangle that Baghdad has lost, or Kirkuk or Kurdistan. That will take boots on the ground and casualties.

And nobody thinks these should be American boots or American casualties. And why should we fight to hold Iraq together? Is that a vital interest to which we should commit American lives in perpetuity?

When did it become so?

No. Bombing cannot put Iraq together again, but it may tear Iraq further apart.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has succeeded in northern Iraq because it has allied with the same militias, Baathists and tribal leaders who worked with Gen. David Petraeus in the Anbar Awakening.

And if we use air power in Sunni provinces that have seceded from Baghdad, we will be killing people who were our partners and are not our enemies. Photos of dead Sunnis, from U.S. air, drone, and missile strikes, could inflame the Sunni world.

Upon one thing Americans do agree: ISIS and al-Qaida are our enemies. But are bombing ISIS and killing Sunnis the way to destroy ISIS? Or does bombing martyrize and heroize ISIS for the Sunni young?

And if destroying ISIS is a strategic imperative, why have we not demanded that the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia cease funneling arms and aid to ISIS in Syria? Why have we not told the Turks to stop permitting jihadists to cross their border into Syria?


Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
 
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