Wednesday, February 25, 2009


President Obama has extended his own time table for taking combat troops out of Iraq. He also plans on leaving between 30,000 and 50,000 of our military personel for training and other purposes. Some have expressed disappointment that we're not pulling out entirely. The disappointment is misplaced. Here's why.

President Obama is not President Bush. Unlike President Bush, who reacted like Homer Simpson pursuing a couple of hornets through the woods, President Obama isn't going to simply take a whack at the hornet's nest that is the Middle East. He's thought this trough. He's no Homer Simpson.

This is what President Obama sees, and understands ...

* The al Qaeda nutjobs in Iraq - who were NOT there before the war - are predominantly Sunnis.

* Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, has helped out Shiite extremists in Iraq (which John McCain didn't know).

* Many of the Sunnis are coming from states that are supposed to be our allies, like Saudi Arabia (which is predominantly Sunni).

* Sunnis think Shiites are apostates.
What all of this means is that if we leave Iraq, and take out all of our military personnel, the Iranians would step in to help the Shiites. The Saudis have told us that they would then have to help the Sunnis in Iraq (in part because the Saudis know that by keeping the Sunni nut jobs in Iraq they aren't going after their corrupt and kleptocratic regime). We might then see a full scale regional conflagration, which the Saudis have suggested would happen.

And I haven't even mentioned the Kurds in northern Iraq who have been perhaps our best allies in Iraq, but have few friends in Turkey (and Iraq).

Now do you understand now why I made the George-Bush-Homer-Simpson-hornet's-nest reference? What a mess.

Look, at the end of the day there are no good options in Iraq. We can't afford to stay there with present troop levels for 100 years, like John McCain suggested on the campaign. President Obama's best option lies simply with keeping a lid on things until we're on the path towards energy independence ...

- Mark

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