Over 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy announced, “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner) from the steps of the Rathaus Schoneberg in West Berlin, making a clear and direct statement to the Soviet Union that he would not allow them to strangle West Berlin into submission.
President Barack Hussein Obama has the same opportunity now, in the defining moment of his foreign policy career, to declare, “I am from Baghdad!” The forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are knocking on Baghdad’s door, and are solidifying an Islamic caliphate from northern Syria across northern Iraq (sans Kurdish enclaves), down to the outskirts of Baghdad.
US President Barack Obama makes a statement on Iraq from the press briefing room at the White House in Washington, DC, June 19, 2014. Obama said Washington was prepared to send up to 300 military advisors to study how to train and equip Iraqi forces and had already increased its surveillance and intelligence capabilities in the country. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON
If Obama had an ounce of the courage and fortitude of Kennedy he would be on the next plane to Baghdad International Airport and then declare from the tarmac that the U.S. is back to stay this time.
We still have troops and bases in countries we defeated in World War II, some 70 years ago. Germany, Japan and Italy are among the world’s leaders in economic strength and stability, and have enjoyed peace and prosperity, because of our committed presence since the end of the war.
The United State of America used to be known for its steadfast reliability and straightforward diplomacy. Kennedy also stared down the Soviets over ballistic missiles in Cuba, blockading that country and issuing an ultimatum to the Soviets to remove their missiles or face global nuclear war.
Obama waffles (red line in Syria), blunders (Benghazi), caves (Ukraine), and even seems to play for the other team (release of five Taliban leaders from Gitmo for one alleged deserter). In short, the man can’t seem to get out of his own way when it comes to foreign policy. It would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic.
Never before in the history of our great nation have we had a commander in chief who is so ill prepared, poorly advised, and downright incompetent when it comes to dealing with other countries. I can just see him in the kindergarten sand box giving all his toys to the pretty girls and bullies and then sitting in the corner letting them throw sand in his face.
This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the Al Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) marching in Raqqa, Syria. (AP Photo/militant website, File)
“Pathetic” does not even begin to describe the destitute image we now must carry; not just with our enemies, but with our friends as well, because of his floundering and fumbling on the world stage.
He announced recently that we were sending 300 advisors to establish joint operations centers with the Iraqis, but failed to comment on the reason he gave for not establishing a status of forces agreement in 2011 before he pulled out the last U.S. combat troops. He said then that Iraqi President Nuri al-Maliki demanded that U.S. personnel be subject to Iraqi justice, and Obama walked and took his toys with him. No negotiation in good faith, just up and left.
I want to know NOW what the status is with regard to U.S. forces in Iraq. Are they or are they not subject to the Iraqi justice system? That MUST be settled before even ONE U.S. advisor steps out of the Green Zone U.S. Embassy area in Baghdad. If it does not, then Obama has once again violated his own promise not to put U.S. troops in jeopardy over that issue.
If the demand is lifted, then we MUST return to Iraq, en force, crush ISIS and the Sunni uprising, and then settle in for a very long stay. Nothing else makes sense. Which is the problem with Obama and foreign policy – nothing makes sense.
We cannot afford another Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl situation; Obama would empty Guantanamo Bay in the blink of an eye. We must commit the 82nd Airborne Division IMMEDIATELY, followed by United States Marines (air and sea assets) in support and then retake the country.
U.S. Army Sgt. Kyle Whalen, 22, from Plover, Wis., playfully taps his helmet with an Iraqi boy’s donated toy football helmet during a visit to the boy’s school in Mosul, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008. Iraqi Army troops donated school supplies to children who attend the school. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
We need to insist on a status of forces agreement as if Iraq were forced into an unconditional surrender in the spring of 2003. We MUST establish a Middle East Marshall Plan that includes the subsidizing of Iraq’s defense and infrastructure to a point where they can stand solidly on their own two feet, but never move far enough away so as to miss them if they were to fall.
We need a presence on every Iraqi border, in every Iraqi town, and on every Iraqi road. We need to cut off and then blockade Iranian political and military influence of the Shia led government. We need to force a shared power framework where all groups are represented fairly in the government.
Iraq is the high ground in the global war on terror, which still rages white hot, whether or not Obama says it’s over. The results of his withdrawal in 2011 proved the war on terror is alive and well and created a security and leadership vacuum happily filled by ISIS and other Islamists.
The American military is trained to COMPLETE the MISSION above all else. My brothers and sisters who served before, after, and with me in Iraq shall not have served or died or been maimed in vain. For once since the end of WWII our political and military goals and objectives need to be one in the same. All Islamists must be killed or pursued until they no longer have the means or will to kill us.
The only question now: Will Obama take a page from the history of Kennedy by declaring a stop to ISIS's progress, protect our troops from arbitrary enforcement of Iraqi laws, and then re-do Iraq - the right way this time? Our future and that of our friends, neighbors and children depend on it.
I am the author of "Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior," and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter @mjgranger1
Feature Photo: (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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