Take honest look at Iraq
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s assessment of why the Islamic State terrorist army took Ramadi – “the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight” -probably destroyed his popularity in Baghdad. And Carter may well have had to endure a chewing out from the White House because he upset the Iraqi government.
But, as they say, truth can hurt.
Analysts have pointed out the fall of Ramadi is no signal Iraq’s army and government are on the verge of collapse. The official White House line is the loss was just a “setback” in the campaign against ISIS.
It was a big “setback,” however. Ramadi, about the size of Pittsburgh, sits on a main road to Baghdad. It is just 75 miles from the Iraqi capital.
Iraqi leaders have spoken confidently of an attack to retake Ramadi, perhaps with help from Iranian troops.
Meanwhile, Ramadi and other battles have demonstrated – again, for those who ignore history – that air power alone does not win wars. President Barack Obama has limited most active U.S. aid in Iraq to air strikes.
During the weekend, Carter pointed out Iraqi troops vastly outnumbered their ISIS foes at Ramadi, yet still fled the city. He questioned Iraqi troops’ commitment to the fight against ISIS.
Iraqi officials reacted angrily, insisting their army can and will fight ISIS effectively.
But Carter’s implication – that U.S. officials need to reassess our strategy against the terrorists – is good advice regardless of whether he is right about the Iraqi troops.
U.S. material resources have been poured into the Iraqi army, with little success. At the same time, Kurdish forces who have fought determinedly against ISIS have to beg for more assistance. That makes no sense.
At the White House and in Congress, it is time to take an honest, fresh look at the situation in Iraq.