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What the Fall of Ramadi Means
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The fall of Ramadi, capital of Anbar, largest province in Iraq, after a rout of the Iraqi army by a few hundred ISIS fighters using bomb-laden trucks, represents a stunning setback for U.S. policy.

When President Obama declared that we shall “degrade and defeat” the Islamic State, he willed the ends, but not the means. The retreat from Ramadi makes clear that the Iraqi army, even backed by 3,000 U.S. troops, cannot drive ISIS out of Anbar and Mosul and back into Syria.

Baghdad cannot alone reunite Iraq.

Republicans are almost gleeful in charging that Obama’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq created the vacuum the Islamic State has now filled.

Blaming Obama for ISIS in Iraq is shaping up to be the 2016 GOP attack line. But when it comes to the critical question — do Republicans favor reintroducing U.S. ground troops to retake Ramadi and Mosul and drive ISIS back into Syria? — no credible GOP presidential candidate is clamoring for a return to Mesopotamia.

None of the mice wants to bell that particular cat.

Yet, absent American leadership and U.S. troops, who is going to expel the Islamic State? The only forces in Iraq able to attempt that are the Shiite militias whose sectarian barbarity is exceeded only by that of ISIS itself.

For the Sunnis of Anbar to be liberated by Shiite militias is like the Catholic Poles being liberated by the Red Army in 1945. Many Sunnis fear a rescue by Shiite militias more than they do the domination of the Islamic State.

America’s choices in Iraq, none good, come down to these:

One: Reintroduce 10,000 ground troops and Marines to retake Ramadi and Anbar, and thousands more to retake Mosul and cleanse Iraq of ISIS. Another surge, like 2007.

Yet that does not solve the problem of the Islamic State, which would retreat to Syria and wait for the Americans to leave Iraq again.

Two: Adopt a policy of degrade-and-contain by continuing air strikes on the Islamic State in Iraq, while training and backing the Iraqi army and Kurds in keeping ISIS out of Baghdad and Irbil.

Three: Accept the inevitable — that the Shiite-led Iraq we created by dethroning Saddam and smashing his Baathist state and army is going to be in the orbit of Iran. For we cannot now, without a major and indefinite reintroduction of U.S. forces, alter the existing balance of military and political power in Iraq.

Before the United States replicates the epochal blunder Bush II and the neocons committed, we should look hard at the realities of Iraq and the region, as we failed to do before we invaded.

The relevant realities are these.

First, the Iraqis are incapable of reuniting and pacifying their country themselves. To hold Iraq together and keep it out of Iran’s sphere would require a large and indefinite presence of U.S. forces.

How much more American blood and treasure is that worth?

Second, while the reintroduction of U.S. ground forces may be cheered by our Western allies, no NATO troops will be there beside us. As far as the West is concerned, Iraq is America’s problem.

Nor will the Turks, Jordanians, Saudis or Gulf Arabs be sending troops to fight ISIS in Iraq or Syria. For them, the greater long-term dangers are: Iran, Hezbollah, Bashar Assad’s Syria, Shiite Baghdad, and the Houthi rebels of Yemen, the so-called Shiite Crescent.

Another reality is that neither Syria, nor Iraq, nor Libya, nor Yemen is likely, soon, to be brought together as a unified nation-state under a government supported by a great majority of its people.

Any regimes that rise in the capitals of these four nations seem certain to be seen by a significant slice of the population as illegitimate, and valid targets for revolutionary violence.

The Middle East is becoming a basket of failed states. And as we look around that region, every country is looking out for No. 1.


The Turks looked the other way as volunteers entered Syria to join ISIS. The Turks then let Kurds cross into Syria to keep ISIS out of Kobane. Now, according to Assad, the Turks are aiding al-Qaida (the Nusra Front) in establishing its own caliphate in Idlib. The Saudis and Gulf Arabs also, says Assad, aided the Nusra Front in taking Idlib.

And what of us?

Considering the millions of dead, wounded, uprooted, homeless, sick and suffering, American-born and native-born, have our wars and bombings in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen been, on balance, more a blessing than a curse to the people we went to help?

Before we plunge back into these Middle East wars from which, at long last, we have begun to extricate ourselves, we ought to recall the words of that anonymous U.S. officer in Vietnam:

“We had to destroy the village — in order to save it.”

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.”

Copyright 2015

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iraq, ISIS, Middle East 
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  1. Art says:

    Another article with no mention of Israel’s dirty hand in all this.

    US options? Our only options are to do what Israel wants – end of story.

    This is all on the AIPAC PNAC agenda — just suck it up America – spill your blood and treasure for the reigning ruling tribe.

  2. Conclusion–let the Semitic tribes fight one another, as they have done for centuries. Read Ibn Khaldun. Pull down our vanity, and cultivate our own garden.

  3. Tim says:

    Pat, et. al.:

    It is my understanding that ISIS now has some oil fields and intact refining facilities. If you gave . . . I don’t know, SOMEONE–old South African Commandos or who even Blackwater (whatever they’re called now) a letter of marque, seems that could beat back ISIS and get rich in the process.

    • Replies: @Vendetta
  4. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    What Buchanan sees as failure, a lot of Zionists see as great success.

    They see stupid Muslims and Arabs totally destroying one another.

    They sit back and laugh like Yojimbowitz.

  5. Africa is also a basket case of failed states where hell on earth seems the norm. It seems prudent to put the ME in the same category. And since we don’t need their oil anymore there’s no national interest in trying to fix the unfixable. Just say goodbye and leave it to others to deal with it. Probably that means China or Russia. Judging from what they do in Africa, China seems able to extract resources from amid chaos.

    From a “Great Game” standpoint, who knows if this a good thing? One thing is certain, the people who are in charge of playing the “Great Game” for the US are really bad at it and have been for generations.

    Until the US can get a pro-American government, it hard to see how we can be too concerned about the fate of the ME, hellish though it will be.

  6. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Americans are totally misinformed about the Middle East.

    Most American Conservatives are not like Buchanan but more like Talk Radio Zionist loonies.

    American Conservatives worry about Sharia Law coming to America!!

    But then, idiot America thinks 25% of the people are homo.

    Since TV and movies and pop music are filled with homos galore, dumb Americans, especially millennials, think US is ‘gay gay gay’.

    And since Jewish-controlled media go on and on about those evil Mooslims, so many Americans think US must do something about the Middle East problem. But there would be no problem if US hadn’t got involved in the first place.

  7. Vendetta says:

    Don’t think any prospective mercenary force is going to have the manpower or the logistical tail to manage such an operation. ISIS has tens of thousands of boots on the ground who know the terrain and have the cities heavily booby-trapped. Where’s Blackwater’s base of operations going to be? How will it be supplied?

    And oil isn’t something you can grab and run away with. You’ve got to stay there and pump it and create a secure route to ship it out.

  8. @Vendetta

    Where’s Blackwater’s base of operations going to be?

    You mean the gay ‘academi’ ? In the UAE. Not that Prince’s Colombian AUC mercenaries could do much:

    And oil isn’t something you can grab and run away with. You’ve got to stay there and pump it and create a secure route to ship it out

    To now, ISIS has it covered:

    To Pat; stick with the foreign policy, it’s where you’re reasonably competent

  9. @Vendetta

    “Where’s Blackwater’s base of operations going to be?”

    Introducing: Kurdistan!

  10. Priss Factor [AKA "The Priss Factory"] says:

    ISIS might as well be called the Mussy Riot.

    Pussy Riot, Mussy Riot.

    Like Mao said during the Cultural Revolution, young people have blank minds and can be made to do anything.

    American millennials are blank-minded and have been turned to slaves of homo fashion. They are so idiotic that they don’t even value free speech anymore. They are teachers pets of their professors and want to stamp out every ‘micro-aggression’.

    And in the Middle East, you got idiotic Muslims going around stamping out every micro-aggression against Islam. The Mussy Riot.

    And in Russia, the Jewish-and-homo funded Pussy Riot have been trying to desecrate all things holy and deep about Russian history and heritage.

  11. Jay Fink says:

    I was against invading Iraq in the first place. I was actually a Saddam fan. I was impressed how he kept that country, with all of it’s factions, high functioning. I was especially impressed at how he enforced secularism, allowed women to wear Western clothes, etc. I wish we would have teamed up with Saddam to force the entire middle east to become secular. Unfortunately we did the opposite and the region is more radical than ever.

    While I was against going to war with Iraq in the first place, I strongly favor sending our troops to Iraq and Syria to defeat ISIS. We need boots on the ground. We need to send our boys there in large numbers to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth. This would be the most important mission since defeating Hitler.
    Now before any of you bring up my religion (which I don’t practice) my views are NOT typical of Jews and practically the opposite of Israel which is obsessed with Iran not ISIS.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  12. Priss Factor [AKA "The Priss Factory"] says:

    In a way, this is a brilliant move by the West.

    How do you get rid of the most radical Muslims elements in the West?

    Let ISIS run wild, and all the Muslim nuts in the West will flock to the Middle East to kill and die.

    That way, West loses the most dangerous elements of Muslim radicalism.

  13. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Jay Fink

    The neo-cons and their friends in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel are supporting IS to undermine Assad in Syria and the Shia alliance overall (Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Iran). It is geo-political engineering through racial terrorism. It was used by William Casey to undermine the Soviets in Central Asia and continues to be used as a foreign policy tool. Intelligence services in the West have feigned concern about the radicalization of youth by IS. But who really cares if a bunch of maladjusted retards are recruited over the Internet to fight some bogus jihad if it can weaken Assad? It is not considered a threat, and certainly not an existential threat, to Israel or the West. Iran and the Shia alliance are. So, the plan is to degrade the Shia world by creating an IS enemy. This was the goal for years and IS is their baby. Check out this DIA memo from 2012:

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  14. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Sorry, that should be radical, not racial, terrorism.

  15. Commenter says:

    Three facts you know as well as I.
    1. Iran could probably(95 to 10% chance) lead the Iraq military in defeat of ISIS.
    2. ISIS, Al Nusra, etc. created, maintained, sustained to hinder Iran.
    3. US no. 1 middle east policy is to hinder and/or degrade Iran capabilities.

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