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August 09. 2014 9:04PM

Back in Iraq: Obama finally acts

The United States military struck targets in Iraq on Friday, engaging in combat for the first time since President Obama officially withdrew combat troops in 2011. He made the right call, which shows how wrong he has been for years.

"Today America is coming to help," Obama said Thursday when authorizing both humanitarian aid and military strikes. Is that not the same impulse that brought us to Iraq 11 years ago and to Libya after that?

When President Bush announced the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, he said "this will not be a campaign of half measures and we will accept no outcome but victory." On Thursday, Obama made absolutely clear that our military return to Iraq would be a campaign of nothing but half measures. Air strikes, but no ground troops for any reason.

That sounds reassuring. Who wants us to get pulled back in? But we already have troops on the ground there, which is one reason why Obama has authorized air strikes. The 300 "advisers" he sent to Iraq in June included U.S. special forces troops, CNN reported back then.

What does Obama do if ISIS, the Islamist army that invaded Iraq to fill the vacuum our leaving created, captures some of our "advisers" or U.S. civilians? What if our bombing does not stop them from capturing more territory, murdering more innocents, and undoing what we spent nearly a decade trying to achieve before Obama whisked our troops out in the middle of his re-election campaign?

Obama resisted aiding the Syrian rebels in part because he wanted to avoid another Iraq. Now we are back in Iraq fighting the terrorist group that rose from the Syrian wreckage created when we would not help the non-terrorist rebels there.

This is what happens when your foreign policy doctrine consists entirely of shooting from the hip.


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