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June 23, 2014

LYONS: Crisis in Iraq inspires Chicken Little talk

Here’s an amazing fact that most of the Chicken Little rhetoric about the crisis in Iraq fails to take into account: The city of Mosul, population 1.5 million, fell to ISIL insurgents because two divisions of Iraq’s army (30,000 soldiers) shed their uniforms, abandoned their weapons, and fled from 800 Sunni religious extremists in pickup trucks.

You read that right. Eight hundred holy warriors routed 30,000 Iraqi soldiers. Large parts of Iraq’s army clearly have no trust in their officers or loyalty to the Maliki government, which is seen by most people as sectarian organized crime.

Writing in the Washington Post, Marc Lynch explains: “Maliki lost Sunni Iraq through his sectarian and authoritarian policies. His repeated refusal over long years to strike an urgently needed political accord with the Sunni minority, his construction of corrupt, ineffective and sectarian state institutions, and his heavy-handed military repression ... are the key factors in the long-developing disintegration of Iraq.”

In short, it’s a political and religious breakdown more than a military failure, and one that no amount of U.S. bombs or military advisors can fix.

Been there, done that. Screwed it up so badly that only the most perfervid TV studio commandos want to go back. So naturally, those were the only guests the TV networks booked on the political talk shows: a parade of sad-sack Bush administration retreads and embittered GOP presidential candidates who blamed it all on President Obama.

The whole gang was there: Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain, even neoconservative carnival barker Paul Wolfowitz, who explained that everything would have been just dandy if we’d committed to stay in Iraq as we’d stayed in South Korea for another 60 years.

“We had it won. Thanks to the surge and thanks to Gen. David Petraeus, we had it won,” explained perennial sorehead John McCain. “The fact is we had the conflict won, and we had a stable government ... but the president wanted out and now we are paying a very heavy price.”

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