Nearly two years after Americans believed that the United States had ended its military involvement in Iraq, President Barack Obama has now decided to provide extensive military aid to the government of Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki.
This aid, which includes missiles and drones, is intended to support Mr. Maliki’s predominantly Shiite government in the face of Sunni opponents who are bitter at having been excluded from his post-American occupation regime.
The weapons are being sent after growing violence unleashed by an al-Qaida-supported insurgency, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which has used suicide bombers, armed convoys and concealed explosives to kill people in northern and western Iraq. The State Department said 37 people died in twin Christmas Day bombings. More than 8,000 Iraqis have died this year due to attacks from various sources.
Despite that, it is disappointing that Mr. Obama has decided to take this action, given that one of his major election pledges in 2008 was to end the Iraq War. When he was re-elected in 2012 Americans believed that the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011 was final. Providing Iraq the missiles and drones, and, apparently, F-16 jet aircraft sales further down the road will involve also putting U.S. military and CIA trainers in Iraq — in other words, the boots on the ground that were supposed to be long gone.
This action supports the aims of U.S. defense contractors such as AeroVironment, Boeing, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, which will be handling the transactions in Iraq. The United States invaded in 2003 and upended Iraq’s traditional political structure to put the majority Shiites on top, occupying the country for eight years. Then, U.S. troops trained the Iraqi forces to defend the government and maintain order.
So why is Mr. Obama now changing course, breaking his promise and re-involving the United States in Iraq’s internal conflicts? Fostering defense industry sales to Iraq is not a good reason, particularly if American lives are endangered in the process.
The Pentagon should not be sending military aid. The United States should let the Iraqis work out their problems without American involvement.