The Pentagon is currently focused on two short-term strategic outcomes in Iraq at the moment, NBC reporter Jim Miklaszewski told MSNBC host Joe Scarborough this morning: Stopping ISIS' incursion into Iraq, and protecting the country's religious minorities (read: Christians and Yazidis) stranded on Mount Sinjar.
So far, so good. Since the president first authorized air strikes and humanitarian relief to the area, Kurdish forces have made some modest headway on both fronts. But the long-term prospects for success in Iraq, as Miklaszewski solemnly notes, “do not look very good” (via Noah Rothman):
“Even if we resolve those two situations, and even if ISIS was somehow contained in Iraq, people are now looking at this as being a 10 to 20-year challenge.”
Remember, that’s not just one journalist’s personal opinion, but what top brass at the Pentagon is already saying. And that, in turn, is particularly vexing given that the war in Iraq is supposedly “over,” and ground troops have already been fighting in the country for more than a decade. Recent polls, meanwhile, show pretty convincingly that the public is war weary and tired of foreign conflicts; what’s more, a whopping 68 percent of Rasmussen respondents think Iraq is already lost to ISIS. If that’s the case, then, the prospect of another 20-year foray into the region is unlikely to be met with anything other than collective sighs and frustration.
Still, that doesn’t mean if America withdraws from the world, these problems will necessarily work themselves out. As we’ve already seen, ISIS poses a significant threat to the United States and its allies.And not surprisingly, if the Pentagon's long-term strategic assessment is correct, they'll continue to pose challenges to our national security for many years to come.