Early this morning, two Navy F/A-18 Hornets off the carrier USS George H. W. Bush attacked an ISIS mobile howitzer (howitzer: short-barreled artillery piece, with less range than a “gun,” but capable of high-angle fire to loft shells over an intervening obstacle and drop them behind it) shelling Kurdish forces defending their capital of Erbil. The President yesterday granted permission to use air assets in the Iraqi theater to protect American facilities and personnel, to prevent ISIS takeover and sack of Erbil, and to prevent ISIS genocide of Iraqi Yazidis (religious separatists).
“The decision to strike was made by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief,” said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby. “As the president made clear, the United States military will continue to take direct action against ISIL when they threaten our personnel and facilities.”
I have been blogging for years this was going to be necessary; that the only thing abandoning Iraq would buy us is the privilege of taking even more casualties fighting our way back in after we have given the enemy a breathing space to establish themselves in fortified positions. But my purpose today is not to gloat. This isn’t funny, and I’m not in a gloating mood. Indeed, I feel sorry for my fellow citizens who would prefer, like the President, for the US to take a back seat in world affairs. Unfortunately, my sympathy does not change the facts any. The bottom line is the US is the guarantor of a (mostly) peaceful world order because there is no other nation, or combination of nations in our absence, who can do the job. Those who say we should just ignore it, that it’s none of our business, that we have more important work making transfer payments here at home, would be well advised to remember we get about 30% of our GDP from world trade, and we’ll lose it if the planet comes unglued. Being the world’s policeman is expensive in terms of blood and treasure, but it is much cheaper than the alternative. They might also remember buying all those artillery shells and bombs and bullets is a far better, and more direct, stimulus of the economy than anything the government could do save cut taxes and not steal the money in the first place. Even Democrats are now beginning to see the price of Obama’s foreign policy (that beggars the term “policy” but I haven’t another). They haven’t move all the way out to the standard Republican “manifest insanity” position, but they are beginning to rethink. And it’s about borking time, too.
It’s not a pretty thought, but I am very much afraid Dr. Charles Krauthammer has been right all along:
“Going into Iraq was probably a mistake. Getting out definitely was.”