This week, The Skidmore News introduces a new opinion column: Politimore. We've recruited four writers, two liberal and two conservative, to take turns writing on some of the big political issues of the week. The conservative column, The Red Side, begins with our columnist's thoughts on Obama's foreign policy and American's return to Iraq to battle ISIS. By Billy Kristol, Columnist
I have an eerie sense of déjà vu. Now, in the year 2014, America finds itself threatened again by an Islamic terrorist group that seems to grow stronger and more menacing by the day. The general American population is urging our leaders to use force to quell this Middle-Eastern threat by any means necessary. The threat is borderless, powerful, and if we do nothing, we risk the possibility of this threat coming into our backyards.
President Obama landed himself in the White House on the promise that he would withdraw our troops from foreign conflicts that the American people were tired of hearing about and tired of supporting. The cause had been forgotten, and eight long years of war in Iraq, more in the Middle East as a whole, had drained us of our idealism. A timeline was proposed for total withdrawal from Iraq, and although the mission in Afghanistan was accelerated, it too would have a definite end date. We dug up and destabilized the region, and now it was time to see ourselves out.
I would like to turn the reader’s attention to a little-recognized speech made by President Bush in 2007 which has been making the rounds on conservative news agencies in the past month. In it he says, “Withdrawal [from Iraq] would have emboldened these radicals and extremists. It would have confirmed their belief that our nations were weak. It would help them gain new recruits, new resources…Withdrawal would have increased the probability that coalition forces would be forced to return to Iraq one day, and confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.”
But by 2007, Americans had stopped listening to President Bush. They were exhausted with war, and this young, uncorrupted politician by the name of Barack Obama promised them change. He promised them an end to conflict without understanding the consequences of that premature declaration. Our enemies grew headstrong with the idea that we would leave them to fester in the hot desert sands and allow them to become something more powerful, more dangerous, and more evil.
By withdrawing from Iraq, President Obama created a vacuum of power in the Middle East, and ISIS was there to fill that vacuum. He has been lying to the American people about the true strength of ISIS. Just in January, only seven months before ISIS demanded America’s attention by beheading two of its citizens, Obama called ISIS “jayvee” terrorists. But a little research shows that ISIS now has more man power, more money, and more control over Iraq and Syria than Al-Qaida ever dreamed of having.
ISIS is the natural reaction to Obama’s weak foreign policy regarding the Middle East. Retired military officials, including ex-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, have criticized Obama’s lack of follow-through when it comes to Iraq. Regardless of how Americans felt about the war, it did not change the fact that we started it. One nation cannot declare war on another, completely destabilize it, and then leave without having accomplished anything of value. We needed more time in Iraq to ensure that a group like ISIS could not take advantage of the mess we created. We did not have that extra, time, and here we are.
This writer fears that we are witnessing the beginning of a new war which will require the use of American soldiers who want nothing less than to be shipped overseas again. Our early withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan only gave us a small dose of calm, but the deaths of James Foley and Steven Sotloff have signaled the end of that calm. I hope that our limited airstrikes can destroy ISIS, but it took a full-scale ground invasion to push back Al-Qaeda. We now face a much greater threat, and we are not doing enough to stop it.