Home/Rod Dreher/Iraq: George W. Bush’s Vietnam

Iraq: George W. Bush’s Vietnam

DoD photo by Helene C. Stikkel. (Released)

According to the Times, Western military experts have concluded that the Iraqi army is beyond hope:

As Iraqi Army forces try to rally on the outskirts of Baghdad after two weeks of retreat, it has become increasingly clear to Western officials that the army will continue to suffer losses in its fight with Sunni militants and will not soon retake the ground it has ceded.

Recent assessments by Western officials and military experts indicate that about a quarter of Iraq’s military forces are “combat ineffective,” its air force is minuscule, morale among troops is low and its leadership suffers from widespread corruption.

As other nations consider whether to support military action in Iraq, their decision will hinge on the quality of Iraqi forces, which have proved far more ragged than expected given years of American training.

Note well this passage:

Western officials describe ISIS as a far tougher enemy than the one the American military faced when it was battling Al Qaeda in Iraq from 2004 through 2009. Assessments of the militants’ capabilities vary, but there is a consensus that despite their small numbers they are well equipped, trained and financed. They also appear dedicated to their cause of vanquishing the forces of the modern world and returning the territory they take to an earlier form of Islam.

With an estimated 10,000 fighters, about 5,000-6,000 of them ISIS and about 4,000 allied Iraqi Sunni groups, ISIS has been able to seize stores of military equipment and plan small offensive missions that, when coupled with a propaganda campaign, have proved highly effective.

America spent $25 billion training and arming those same Iraqi security forces that are collapsing like wax before the ISIS flame. How many of our soldiers died or were maimed for this cause? But you know, how could America have anticipated that all the money in the world, and the most sophisticated military technology, would not be sufficient to defeat an ideologically motivated enemy? How were we to know?

Oh, wait.

Meanwhile, the efforts of America, the biggest Christian nation on earth, continues to shower blessings on its Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq. Christianity has been present in Mosul since the second century. It no longer is:

Convert to Islam or face the sword.

That was the stark message Christians in the Syrian city of Raqqa received last year when ultra-fundamentalist Sunni extremists, proclaiming themselves to be members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), seized power and launched a reign of terror against Shiites and Christians that has included beheadings and at least three crucifixions.

Aware of ISIL’s ferocious reputation for murder and mayhem, thousands of Christians who lived in Mosul and the surrounding Nineveh Plain fled in panic when ISIL rebels captured Iraq’s second largest city from government forces on June 10. Many of those who escaped have sought refuge in this Christian enclave in the Kurdish city of Irbil, only an hour’s drive away from Mosul.

“All who are left there now are a few handicapped or sickly Christians,” said a Chaldean Catholic nun wearing a blue habit whose religious community fled Mosul on foot, walking north for four hours on June 10 along with thousands of other Christian and Muslim refugees.

I am ashamed of my country for creating the conditions that led to the extinction of Christianity in Iraq. At the very least we ought to offer asylum to these people. Let them all go live on George W. Bush’s, Dick Cheney’s, and Paul Wolfowitz’s front lawns. Seriously, the least we owe them is asylum. The least. These are the Vietnamese Boat People of our day.

Think about it: Christianity in Iraq survived the coming of Islam, it survived everything that history threw at it. But it did not survive the war the imperial Christian hegemon, led by a conservative Christian king, threw at Iraq in the name of democracy. We overthrow a secularist monster on the pretense that we were going to destroy al Qaeda, and now Iraq will be divided largely between Shiites loyal to our enemy, Iran, and Sunni berserkers who are more fanatical than al Qaeda. Eighteen hundred years of history did not exterminate Christianity in Iraq. The last 11 years, in which the do-gooder United States of America unleashed the demons biding their time in the desert, did.

Nemesis is upon us. But as if to perfect the tragedy, it does not fall upon those guilty of hubris, the US leadership, but upon innocent Iraqi Christians. Herodotus, you should be alive at this hour.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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