I can't watch the news regarding Iraq without something that feels somewhere between horror and bemusement. All the news outlets are howling about what a huge surprise this is and how we never saw something like this coming?
Are you fucking kidding me?!? Since we've pulled the last of our combat troops out of Iraq there has been a ever increasing spiral of violence. It's been a cavalcade of sectarian bombings. Over the border in Syria it's been a complete shit show with the rise of this isis group. You would have thought their name alone would have made their intentions clear to all parties. Now everybody is suddenly shocked when they storm over the border and start taking territory away from security forces that basically feel unwanted and undervalued.
There is blame in every direction to be placed on how Iraq got into this place.
We're to blame, the Iraqi government is to blame... Religions with crappy ideology is to blame... Note this could be a very long list... I'll stop here.
Am I the only one who looks at the T.V. screen and simple muses on the following:
Thousands of Americans dead, Trillions spent, nothing gained?
Why did we ever go to Iraq? Nothing good came out of us going there.
It will go down as the greatest fiasco in modern history.
The words of George Washington ring in my ears "Be weary of foreign engagements."
But here we are... Iranian Republican guard troops are now operating inside the Iraq. The Kurdish Peshmerga have now mobilized.
Let's look at the players...
Isis: Sunni radicals, lots of newly acquired money arms and fighters. Stated goal of creating their own caliphate out of Iraq and Syria.
Kurds: Sunni's, well armed and well organized. Stated goal of reconstituting the country of Kurdistan.
Iraqi Army: Shiite, trained and armed by the U.S. However poorly lead, low moral.
Iran Republican Guard: Shiite, Elite well trained and armed. Maneuvering to keep the conflict from spilling into Iran and to protect Shiite holy sites in Iraq.
Iraqi Insurgents: Sunni and Shiite (opposite sides)... Basically crazy mofo's itching to blow shit up. Likely to help which every side will further their goals. Those goals being somewhat the same as Isis.
This has all the makings of a classic sectarian war, with all sides trying to carve out and hold territory and millions of civilians caught in the middle.
So... what do we do?
The first option is nothing. Pull a Syria and just watch the place go deeper into hell. Let the Iranians who've been snickering about what a cracker jack job we did while we were there get bloody. The pros to this approach is other than taking some lumps on the world stage, we're not expending troops and treasure. The cons are that a) Iran could actually sort the place out and turn it into another Theocracy. This would obviously cause the Saudi's to freak out.. who'd give money to groups opposing this new Theocracy... b) Iran could get in over their heads and it could cause their country to implode (granted that last part isn't likely but frankly this is the middle east, anything is possible) Anyway you cut this cookie... the Kurds and the Saudi's are not going to be happy with a Sunni take over of large parts of Iraq... either by the Iranians or Isis or some other group.
In all these scenarios I see the Kurds using this as a reason to pull a power play and try to distance themselves further from the Baghdad and towards the establishment of Kurdistan... The Turks understandably don't like that scenario.
The second scenario is we get involved. We roll in air support and start pounding Isis positions. Expect Isis to immediately start playing dirty pool and using human shields, etc. This also entails dropping ordinance on battlefields that there may be many different players with different agendas. I don't envy the secretary of state. If we bomb Isis, but let the Kurds gain territory unopposed, how does that look to the Iraqi's? Or the Turks?
The more I think about this situation the more fractally complex it seems to me and the more downsides I see to all the different scenarios I can think of.
I'll be surprised if in 5 years Iraq even looks like it does now.
The only plausible scenario I could see where it would work out in everybody's favor would be one where Isis is beaten back, the Iranians go home as "victors". The Iraqi government gets a clue about not stoking sectarian differences and the Kurds hold their ground.
Tragically I think that last scenario is the least likely.