Share This Page

The mess in Iraq: What to do?

| Monday, June 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The United States finds itself between the proverbial rock and a hard place with the disintegration of Iraq.

War-weary Americans, feeling burned by their country's last intervention there and, perhaps, with insufficient understanding of what's truly at stake, have no appetite for re-entering the fray in any form. But there is no question that applying cosmetics to the situation or doing nothing at all are not options. For that surely would embolden terrorists and pose a direct threat not just to the security of the Middle East but to the security of the United States.

The relatively small forces of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an outcast al-Qaida spinoff, stunned Iraq, if not the world, last week with their lightning-fast takeover of most of northern Iraq. Many Iraqi security forces tucked tail and ran. Others were captured and might have been executed en masse. By early Monday, some Iraqi forces were striking back.

President Obama, weighing the options — Airstrikes and risking a wider fight? Working with neighboring Iran and risking dealing with another terrorism devil? — on Sunday pushed the warring factions to mend their sectarian rifts among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds and form a unity government. That sounds like a pipe dream given the situation on the ground.

ISIS is vowing to take Baghdad. And if the Iraqi capital falls, a wider conflagration virtually is assured. Iraq and parts of Syria will have been conscripted by the ugliest of terrorists. Lebanon and Jordan next would be at certain risk. And the United States once again would be ripe for attacks domestically.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.