Despite its military supremacy, the U.S. under the command of President Barack Obama is at risk of having an upstart group of Islamic terrorists take over Iraq -- all because politically straitjacketed American military might has struggled against unrestrained guerrilla warfare, and the president has failed to absorb the lessons from America's past mistakes.
Obama's first mistake was to repeat the error that led to the creation of al-Qaeda in the first place: training and funding locals, then abandoning them. This was exactly what happened 30 years ago with America's support of the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan -- from which Osama Bin Laden rose to prominence. Today, it's happening with the so-called "rebels" in Syria, some of whom have now regrouped into this virulent ideological cancer now destroying everything in Iraq that isn't Islamic.
That brings us to Obama's second mistake: waiting over a month to act on the problem beyond putting in a $500 million funding request to further arm and train locals to fight these Islamists themselves. You know, just in case there were any other Syrian opposition rebel groups who hadn't yet benefitted from the terrorist group venture capital startup program being run by the U.S. government.
It's not that the U.S. couldn't theoretically wipe out the Islamic State. But that would require actual boots on the ground, favorable public opinion and substantial international backing as typically exemplified by a U.N. Security Council resolution. At this point, Obama has none of the above.
It's not a good sign that even Jordan -- an American ally that has hosted covert CIA training for the Syrian opposition -- rejects American boots on the ground, fearing a Syrian backlash, U.S. officials have told Reuters.
"It's up to Iraqis to lead this fight," said French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius. He added that France and other European nations would explore the idea of providing arms to Iraq and Kurdistan. And it's in that little detail -- the funding of nation-states rather than unaccountable rogues -- where a crucial difference lies.
Compare Obama's interventions with France's current and incredibly successful anti-jihadist Operation Serval in Mali.
When France fights in Africa, it co-opts a proxy army of a nation-state -- typically Chad's. It doesn't just dump cash and weapons onto some random locals, as Obama has been doing, and hope for the best.
France ticked all the boxes with Serval: public support both at home and in Mali, a request from the Malian interim government, and U.N. Security Council authorization.
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