Jonah Goldberg: Obama has painted himself into a foreign-policy corner
Across a huge swath of what, up until recently, had been known as Iraq and Syria, a transnational movement of Sunni Islamic extremists has taken control. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has conquered — without much effort — Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, along with most of the province of Nineveh. It also took Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown. Along the way it has ransacked banks (to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars), pillaged weapon stockpiles (including the stuff we left behind for the Iraqi army) and recruited ever more fighters from Iraq, Syria and abroad. Late Thursday, the Iranians finally sent troops to support the teetering government and managed to reclaim most of Tikrit. So either the regional war just got bigger, or Iraq is poised to become even more of an Iranian vassal.
Nothing, that is, beyond casting lots of words and Twitter hashtags into the air like so many magic beans that will sprout into peace and security wherever they find purchase.
Often, when critics call attention to these and numerous other foreign-policy failures, the President and his defenders will argue that the critics want war. Indeed, in his West Point speech, Obama took a firm and forthright stand against an argument pretty much nobody is making: Military action “cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance.”
Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and editor-at-large of National Review Online.
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