The current American war in Iraq is a struggle in search of a goal. It began in August as a humanitarian intervention, morphed into a campaign to protect Americans in-country, became a plan to defend the Kurds, followed by a full-on crusade to defeat the new Islamic State (IS, aka ISIS, aka ISIL), and then… well, something in Syria to be determined at a later date.
At the moment, Iraq War 3.0 simply drones on, part bombing campaign, part mission to train the collapsed army the US military created for Iraq War 2.0, all amid a miasma of incoherent mainstream media coverage. American troops are tiptoeing closer to combat (assuming you don’t count defensive operations, gettingmortared, and flying ground attack helicopters as “combat”), even as they act likearchaeologists of America’s warring past, exploring the ruins of abandoned US bases. Meanwhile, Shia militias are using the conflict for the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis and Iran has become an ever-more significant player in Iraq’s affairs. Key issues of the previous American occupation of the country—corruption,representative government, oil revenue-sharing—remain largely unresolved. The Kurds still keep “winning” against the militants of IS in the city of Kobani on the Turkish border without having “won.”
In the meantime, Washington’s rallying cry now seems to be: “Wait for the spring offensive!” In translation that means: wait for the Iraqi army to get enough newly American-trained and -armed troops into action to make a move on Mosul. That city is, of course, the country’s second largest and still ruled by the new “caliphate” proclaimed by Islamic State head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. All in all, not exactly inspiring stuff.
You can’t have victory if you have no idea where the finish line is. But there is one bright side to the situation. If you can’t create Victory in Iraq for future VI Day parades, you can at least make a profit from the disintegrating situation there.
Picture: Koalorka at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons