We are perfectly willing to concede there is a robust debate to be had over the question of whether the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the ouster of Saddam Hussein is the cause of the disorder in the Middle East, or it would be happening anyway. What can’t be argued, however, is that having inherited the situation in 2009, President Barack Obama, as commander in chief, has an obligation to do the best he can to ensure things don’t get any worse. The 37 percent approval the president got for his handling of foreign policy in the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Wednesday suggests Americans, including a lot of those who twice voted for Obama, think the president isn’t meeting this obligation.
The New York Times reported in its June 15 edition that the current military offensive in Iraq by the Sunni-led ISIS militia was two years in the making. If the White House was unaware this was going on under its nose this would be par for the course for U.S. intelligence in the Middle East. If it did know, it becomes harder to explain or justify the president’s decision to pull all U.S. forces out of Iraq and calls into question his plan to exit Afghanistan in 2016. This is especially true if it knew and did nothing.
We realize that many Americans would prefer to see the U.S. withdraw from its century-long efforts to foster some semblance of peace and stability around the globe. Unfortunately, the problems of the rest of the world often find us when we try to pretend they do not exist.