Obama’s Critics Are Wrong: Right Now Iraq Isn’t a Worst-Case Scenario for the US

Calling the Iraq mess a worst case for the U.S. is actually a failure on the part of the president’s critics to adapt to the changing geopolitical environment.

President Barack Obama makes a statement on Iraq on the South Lawn of the White House on June 13, 2014. “We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces,” Obama said. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

But the U.S., blindfolded, hit the hornet’s nest when the previous administration thought it was hitting a piñata. Hence, any approach we take moving forward will have to recognize centuries-old cultural traditions and rifts thousands of years beyond our capacity to control events on the ground. That means letting Iraq slowly return to its original setting before the British Empire cut it up in World War I.

Why would we want to charge back into that mess when we can do it by drone and aircraft carriers miles deep in the Persian Gulf? We’re better off telecommuting than showing up; we’re better off working from home than burning lights in the office. President Obama just isn’t very good at explaining this, his slow tone of nuance too academic.

Once the dust settles, though, the execution of the United States’ role will have been masterful and pragmatic—should the dice roll right. No blood spilled, few dollars spent and no skin off our backs, except for an occasional drone called in and controlled from the comfort of an air-conditioned room back home. We’ll be too far away to feel it.

Charles D. Ellison is a veteran political strategist and regular contributor to The Root. He is also Washington correspondent for the Philadelphia Tribune and chief political correspondent for Uptown magazine. Follow him on Twitter.