Maureen Dowd: US doesn’t know what to call enemy in Iraq

We’re in a new war in Iraq with some bad ‘folks’, as the president might say, whose name we’re still fuzzy on

Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 01:00

Isis mistakenly torments the sect that has survived 72 genocides, the Telegraph explained, because the Yazidis worship a fallen angel called the Malek Tawwus, or Peacock Angel. But unlike Lucifer, their angel sought forgiveness and went back to heaven.

Fifty thousand Yazidis were driven by the jihadis to take refuge on Mount Sinjar in Kurdish-controlled Irbil, where they were trapped and dying of dehydration and exposure, which spurred President Barack Obama to order navy planes to drop food and water for them.

Although it felt momentarily bracing to see American pilots trying to save innocents in a country we messed up so badly that it’s not even a country any more, some critics warned that the pinprick bombings were a political gesture, not a military strategy, and “almost worse than nothing”, as John McCain put it.

The latest turn of the screw in Iraq also underscored how we keep getting pulled back, “Godfather”-style, without ever understanding the culture. Our boneheaded meddling just creates ever-more-virulent monsters. The United States has taken military action in Iraq during at least 17 of the last 24 years, the ultimate mission creep in a country smaller than Texas on the other side of the world.

 

Symbolic

What better symbol of the Middle East quicksand than the fact that navy planes took off for their rescue mission – two years after Obama declared the war in Iraq over – from the George HWBush aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea?

 

Bush snr’s war to expel Saddam from Kuwait – a gas station of a country chockablock with spoiled rich Arabs – would not have been necessary if Saddam, a tyrant first enabled by JFK’s CIA, had not been given the wrong signals by our side. W’s war with Saddam, the prodigal son’s effort at outdoing his father, ended up undoing Iraq and the neglected Afghanistan.

Caught in the Sunni backlash and the backdraft of his predecessor’s misguided attempt to impose democracy, Obama is leery and proceeding cautiously. But what can he do? He has dispatched a few hundred advisers to Iraq to fix something that couldn’t be fixed with the hundreds of thousands of troops over a decade.

Some fellow Democrats are fretting that the pull of Iraq will be too strong, after Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said, “The president has not laid out a specific end date.” Iraq, after all, is a country that seems to have a malignant magnetism for our leaders.

 

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