The war in Iraq is a religious conflict that the United States can’t do much about. The nature of the war, and its recent lessons, indicate that the solution is up to the Sunnis, the Shiites and governments in the region that are influential, like Iran.
Washington still has a historical responsibility for starting what threatens to be the dissolution of Iraq. First, toppling the secular dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, and later, being unable to provide security in the occupied area, which led to the first sectarian conflicts.
That is why it is so ironic that now, those responsible for recklessly starting a poorly planned war whose failures resulted in the expansion of the power and attraction of Islamic extremism in the region, and the deaths of more than 4,000 U.S. soldiers, are criticizing the Obama administration for withdrawing the troops. The delusions that led neoconservatives to think that invading Iraq would be “a walk in the park” where the U.S. could impose a contagious democratic regime, make them think that troops should have been left in Iraq against the wishes of Iraqis and Americans. They are confusing the circumstances of Germany and South Korea with those of Iraq.
The fact that Republicans have embarked in a campaign accusing Obama of “losing Iraq” reveals everything, from convenient amnesia to electioneering hypocrisy.
President Obama is the one who cannot afford to dream like the neoconservatives or to make foreign policy decisions based on domestic pressure. He is the one who must shoulder the burden of dealing with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who far from politically pacifying the nation, made it even more religiously radical when he persecuted Sunni politicians.
The U.S. can launch air strikes against the positions of insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and delay their advances toward a religious state between Iraq and Syria. However, that won’t resolve the conflict.
The religious extremism of the rebels will make negotiations difficult. Nevertheless, the path toward a solution is mainly up to the countries in the region, the ones experiencing the geopolitical upheaval.