Back To Iraq
On last Thursday evening I was heading back home from Richmond after attending the funeral of a close cousin. We had the radio tuned to WTOP, since my wife somewhat tires of the driving beats emanating from my IPOD. I wasn’t paying much attention to the news, because I knew already what was happening…..or so I thought. Ebola...Israel...Gaza...Central American kids crossing the border...missiles...rockets...ceasefires….misfires. You know, the usual fare. Suddenly...the President breaks in, and it catches my attention.
When he starts with “My fellow Americans….”, you know it’s not going to be good. It was almost as if history was repeating itself...yet again.
I was on active duty with the Army when we initially went to Iraq, after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. I was just retired from active duty when we went to Iraq again, after the events of 9-11, looking for weapons of mass destruction. Now here we are again.
The President authorized air strikes to stop our new found enemy ISIS or ISIL or Al-Qaeda Part Deux! That part wasn’t very surprising. The surprise was that this was also going to be a humanitarian mission. It seems that our new found enemy also has corralled about 40,000 people onto the top of a mountain, and if they tried to escape, they would be raped, or killed, or worse. What??? When did all of this happen?
It seems like we started out looking for 200 missing school girls in Nigeria...did we ever find them? Then we were trying to stop folks from fighting in the middle east...has that worked out yet? Then we were stopping kids from crossing our borders…are they still crossing? Then we had this thing with Boris Yeltsin! Now we are dropping food and water to a bunch of folks that, until the President told us about them last week, I had never heard of.
The folks, stuck on the top of the mountain are the Yazidi people. With the help of Wikipedia I did find out that the Yazidi people are a Kurdish speaking, ethno religious community who practice a religion linked to Zoroastrianism and early Mesopotamian religions. They primarily live in the Nineveh province of Northern Iraq, but they have also migrated to Europe, especially Germany. They do believe in God as Creator of the world. Seem harmless enough….but they have been targeted by ISIS, in its campaign to purify Iraq and neighboring countries of non-Islamic influences.
Now we will never know the reason why one group of people hate and want to kill another group. History is full of anecdotes about conflicts between groups since the book of Genesis. I do agree with President Obama that we should help the Yazidi people, and get them to a safe place. I am not sure how hellfire missiles will do it, other than kill members of ISIS, but maybe it will work. Already, some of the Yazidi people have escaped their mountain entrapment due to U.S. intervention.
But, this crisis brings up many questions. One of them is how did ISIS come to power, even after the US had fought in Iraq on two separate occasions? Why is the government of Iraq still unstable...long after the notorious Saddam Hussein was vanquished? One question that really bothers me is...why did the Iraqi military cut and run when they had to face ISIS, even after being trained by U.S. soldiers? When they abandoned their posts, they left U.S. weapons and tanks to be used by ISIS, which they have taken full advantage of.
I do not see this as being a short term intervention. I hate to say it, but I think that our role in Iraq will increase before President Obama leaves office. I don’t think that it is something that he wants to happen, but I think that the world situation may dictate it, and he will have no choice. I really hope that I am wrong.