Friday, August 15, 2014

From the Moderate Right: Obama's Non-Stupid Iraq Gambit Working

Nouri al-Maliki, soon to be Iraq's ex-prime minister.

From Marc Ambinder, more-than-faint praise for Barack Obama's don't-do-stupid-stuff Middle East policy:
The U.S. invasion of Iraq plunged the country into chaos; the evisceration of the entire political apparatus after the war put a stop to any natural political realignment; the de-Baathification of the new government robbed it of its technocratic expertise, and the current administration's relative inattention to Maliki's turn toward sectarian warlordism after 2009 gave the current prime minister confidence that he could violate the boundaries of acceptable behavior. So that's on Obama, to some degree. The best thing the U.S. could do, without being stupid, is to try.
Iraq may not be closer to stability today than it was yesterday; the Iraqi National Group does not have a majority in parliament, so the unknown unknowns are pretty daunting. The Army is loyal to who knows whom. ISIS poses an existential threat to Iraq, the Middle East, and perhaps even to the United States.
But Maliki resigned within the framework of the current political system. That's a step toward legitimacy. Credit many (including Maliki's presumed patron, Iran), but apportion some of it to this administration.
Bush does profoundly stupid stuff, Obama does less-stupid stuff. Obama for the win, for now.

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