Tag Archives: ISIS

The Gamble, Six Years Later

This is a guest post by Jonathon Whooley, a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Florida currently lecturing at San Francisco State University. 

As the rumors, machinations, and punditry weigh in on the current strife in Iraq, many of us who have been avidly observing the consistently deteriorating progress of the Government of Iraq (GOI) have been sadly waiting for all of the old arguments about the state of the country to return: ancestral hatreds, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), terrorism, etc. It was with no surprise and much fanfare therefor that the latest bloodletting and domestic strife.

Over the last five years since Thomas E. Ricks authored his prescient work The Gamble (2009) many Middle East observers have been waiting to see whether stakes that the Us government in its Petraeus-era policy of community policing would work or, if the Iraqi central government, seeking no greater goal than elevating its own status, would ultimately fall apart. While no fan of the American intervention in Iraq in 2003, and far and away dubious about current calls for American intervention in Iraq, one is left slightly agape at the limited historical recall of the punditry and the dramatic steps taken by the GOI that have led to the current state of affairs in the country. Ricks’ argument, that the progress of Iraqi stability and security was fundamentally rooted in an argument toward the Iraqi populace that with legitimate elections, relative security, and the sharing of natural resources, an uneven but faintly credible construction of government in Iraq was possible, this concept was oddly ignored by most leading pundits and policy makers in recent days.

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Maybe Iraq Really Is Vietnam?

When George W. Bush was pushing the Iraq war, the concern from some of the left was: is this another Vietnam? By “another Vietnam”, most Americans mean “a really long war with lots of US casualties that in the end we lose”. And there was fear in 2003 and 2004 that Iraq would end up that way.

The Bush administration pushed back with absurd assertions that we’d be done in 6 months and “Mission Accomplished” photo ops. Obama finally fixed the problem by pulling US troops out of Iraq a couple of years ago, at which point the “ghost of Vietnam” went away. But there is another aspect of the Vietnam debacle that I think does apply to the Iraq mess. Continue reading