Call to Action: The Iraq Strategy America Really Needs
By Derek Chollet and Robert Ford
Twenty-five years ago this August, Saddam Hussein’s army rumbled into Kuwait, initiating an era of U.S. military engagement with Iraq that continues to this day. What to do about Iraq has dominated the American foreign-policy debate for a quarter-century, and will again be a central issue in the 2016 presidential election. The chairman of the joint chiefs just visited Iraq to review our military operations and assistance there, and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter just visited the country as well.
Unfortunately, Washington’s emphasis on the military repeats a past mistake: focusing on a strategy defined by troop numbers, targets and what it would take for “us” to win. The headlines hide the real issue: whether Iraq's Shia, Kurds and Sunni Arabs are prepared to share power in a united Iraq, even a decentralized one.
The rise of the Islamic State is the latest chapter in a long struggle for political power in Iraq. So any assertions about what “we” can do must be coupled with a healthy dose of humility. More than ever, Iraq's future is in the hands of Iraqis. It is wearisome hubris for America to think that it will decide Iraq's future...