Ah yes, good old Washington Post editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt, is at it again, all over President Obama for his unwillingness to run around after neocon fantasies about the world, just as he seems not to be all that taken by Hiatt's role as a leader of the anti-social security Very Serious People. In today's WaPo has another column actually under his name, "The threat from being a bystander," all about how what is happening in Iraq is clearly due to Obama withdrawing troops from there rather than the initial invasion that installed a Shi'i dominating rule, Nuri al-Maliki, who has oppressed the Sunni minority while demanding that US troops leave. That the Sunni minority has welcomed the invasion from Syria of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or Levant), ISIS(L) with open arms is not surprising under the circumstances.
Now, it must be admitted that at one point Hiatt recognizes that, "Iraq's politicians are to blame. But if the United States had maintained a presence, it might have steered Iraqi politics in a more constructive way." Really? From the time Bush was president, al-Maliki had been demanding the complete withdrawl of US troops and refused to give legal protection to any of our troops who just managed to stay on too long. What does Hiatt have to say about that? Well, "I think if Obama had really wanted an agreement, and been willing to offer more than a few thousand soldiers, he could have negotiated one." Really? But al-Maliki had been consistently and repeatedly without a shred of any wavering demanding that we remove all our troops. Why on earth would offering "more than a few thousand soldiers" that he explicitly did not want change his mind? Fred Hiatt is in full fantasyland denial on this at this point. He somehow does not remotely get it that he and his neocon pals just totally messed it up when we invaded, and they wanted us out, period.
There is more. Of course he is back to pounding the drum about how all would (or at least might) have been well if only Obama had not "rejected the advice of top aides to support the moderate rebels in Syria." There he goes again with another fantasy. Those moderate never were and never have been particularly powerful, even if the Turks support them and were the main advocates of us massively arming them. But the main reason reportedly that Obama resisted this was fear that the already very effective Islamists would end up getting the arms. As it is, a lot of the arms that ISIS(L) has been picking up on its run through northern Iraq have been US ones sent there, well...
Then we have another serious whopper. "If only Libya, Syria and Iraq were only human rights catastrophes - as each assuredly is - the Minimalists [Obama and his allies] might hold firm." Human rights catastrophes? OK, Syria is indeed a human rights catastrophe and much worse, with thousands dead and millions displaced, somewhat reminiscent of what happened in Iraq after we invaded. Syria is indeed a horror show. But it remains completely unclear what should be done about it. But, increasingly it is clear that attempting to arm the "moderate opposition" who were(are) supposed to both overthrow Assad's government, fully backed and armed by the Russians who have a naval base in Syria, as well as hold off and defeat ISIS(L), looks to be just a total fantasy. Frankly, we should have figured out some time ago that indeed the real threat were the Islamist radicals and have supported Assad against them, even though those moderate oppositionists seem so nice.
Hiatt has Iraq on his list, but I am not sure what he is talking about. Is he talking about what happened during Saddam's regime, or after Saddam fell, or more recent human rights misconduct by al-Maliki's government since we withdrew our forces, or things that have gone on in areas conquered by ISIS(L)? This is completely unclear, but while I worry about what will happen in those ISIS(L) ruled territories, most reports have the locals in Mosul welcoming them as "liberators" from a corrupt and oppressive al-Maliki regime. And while they promise to be highly fundamentalist, it is not obvious that they will be any stricter or harsher in their application of Shari'a than our ally Saudi Arabia is, where women cannot drive, thieves have their hands cut off, and murderers are beheaded.
Finally, I really am mystified by his inclusion of Libya on this list of supposed "human rights catastrophes." Here he really is almost beyond being in fantasyland. I checked Human Rights Watch latest report, and not all is perfect there. Several thousand people are apparently still detained in camps and prisons as a result of the recent war, and some are not treated well, with some even dying, atlhough not clearly due to active policies of their captors. The country is clearly not politically unified and on the verge of a civil war. But there are no reports of any torture or systematic executions. This is in sharp contrast to what went on during the 40 years of Gaddafi's rule. He executed thousands of opponents, did not have elections in contrast to the current government, and tortured people regularly. At his fall 10,000 people were released from his prisons, and many of those had suffered torture. Hiatt simply seems to have no idea what no idea what is going on in Libya, none at all.
I could go on, but this will do.
Later addition: So, have heard that Obama is sending in 276 troops. Sounds like a joke, but I guess this is for protecting the embassy, just like the residual amount he wants to keep in Afghanistan. Certainly will not make much of a difference, although it might excite ISIS(L) that they really are fighting against The Great Satan, just as Iran may be about to ally with that same Great Satan.