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James W. McConnell

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Time to End Our 14 Year Middle East Misadventure


The United States invaded Iraq in March, 2003. Over the ensuing fourteen years we’ve done nothing of significance that hasn’t proven counterproductive.

None of this should have been a surprise. Prior to invading Iraq, Lieutenant General Bill Odom, the Director of the National Security Agency under President Reagan made it clear in every forum that would carry his opinion that if America invaded Iraq it would be the greatest strategic blunder in the nation’s history. Those of us with any knowledge of the region shared his opinion. Unhappily, the nation’s elected leadership ignored the fact that the Sunni-Shia religious conflict over Mohammed’s succession has defined the entire region since it began in 632AD and blundered into a religious war we couldn't win.

The dream of a Shia Crescent, with Shias controlling Iran, Iraq and Syria was, as long as Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, impossible to realize. Our invasion of Iraq, and the elections which the majority Shias dominated, made the Shia Crescent a reality. Iraq’s leading Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Sistani, made it clear he would insist every vote counted and made sure his Shia majority got to the polls. While Al-Qaeda and ISIS, supported by their Sunni brethren in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, along with the Kurds are contesting this reality, our absence of any Grand Strategy in the region and hostility to the Shias has given the Russians a strategic opening which can’t be reversed. 
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