As the President mulls over what exactly the United States should do about the recent gains by ISIS in its revolt against the Iraqi government, he finally faces one crisis that he really can blame on Bush.
Bush involved the United States in Iraq as a sideshow following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Bush responded well enough. He rallied the nation and vowed to punish those who were responsible. This led to military operations against Afghanistan. Despite pleas by American special forces for more boots on the ground, Bush decided to follow the advice of Donald Rumsfeld to leave only a "small footprint" in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, in order to stomp someone's ass, it requires a big footprint. Instead of deploying the necessary forces to capture Osama bin Laden and destroy his one thousand plus fighters in Tora Bora, the Bush Administration elected to aid the Northern Alliance in its war against the Taliban and depend upon Pakistan to seal the border and help capture bin Laden. While the Northern Alliance did oust the Taliban, bin Laden slipped across the border with Pakistan, where he remained hidden for a decade.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, the administration and its supporters began beating the drums for war with Iraq--a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.
Conservatives traditionally warn about the unintended consequences of government action in both domestic and foreign affairs. Not so this crowd. A speech by Dick Cheney in 2002, with the drumbeats of war in the background, reveals the astonishing miscalculation of the Bush Administration about war with Iraq:
"Another argument holds that opposing Saddam Hussein would cause even greater troubles in that part of the world, and interfere with the larger war against terror. I believe the opposite is true.
Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region. When the gravest of threats are eliminated, the freedom-loving peoples of the region will have a chance to promote the values that can bring lasting peace.
As for the reaction of the Arab "street," the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation, the streets in Basra and Baghdad are "sure to erupt in joy in the same way the throngs in Kabul greeted the Americans." Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of Jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart. And our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced, just as it was following the liberation of Kuwait in 1991."
The removal of Sadaam Hussein, as tyrannical as he was, failed to enhance the prospects of "freedom loving peoples" create conditions that would enhance their peace and happiness. Instead, Iraq has descended into a sectarian civil war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Meanwhile, Iraq's Christian community has suffered horrendous treatment from both Sunnis and Shiites. In 2003. Iraqi Christians number over one million. Now there are less than 400,000. Iraq seems to be experiencing the "greater troubles" that Cheney so cavalierly disregarded.
Today the Shiite government of Iraq has lost control of some major cities in northern Iraq to the ISIS. It is only a matter of time before an assault begins on Baghdad. President Obama has some difficult decisions ahead. And as he considers those decisions, he can thank one person--George Bush.