Small Wars Journal

Does the New York Times Want America In Iraq for One Hundred Years?

Does the New York Times Want America In Iraq for One Hundred Years? by Curt Mills - The National Interest

The headline of the New York Times piece was breathless: “Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. Handed the Country Over.” The content was only slightly less so: “But after the United States’ abrupt withdrawal of troops in 2011, American constancy is still in question here—a broad failure of American foreign policy, with responsibility shared across three administrations.”

The statement is curious. “What about U.S. history of involvement there tells you it’s going to end well?” asks Hussein Banai of Indiana University Bloomington. Arango’s reporting, which advocates for “American constancy” in Iraq, “contributes to this mythmaking on all sides that all Iraq might need is a U.S. stablizing force,” says Banai. “And it’s just ridiculous.” (Iran’s foreign minister, the veteran diplomat Javad Zarif, also complained about this piece in comments to the National Interest on Monday).

The evidence suggests the 2011 withdrawal was anything but “abrupt.” Barack Obama, an original opponent of the war and supporter of withdrawal, won the 2008 election on an anti-war wave. Leading figures in U.S. life had been calling for withdrawal since the war took a turn for the worse shortly after the fall of Baghdad in 2003. But most importantly, the exodus of U.S. forces in 2011 had been negotiated in 2008 by President Bush; not abrupt. And “it had been working it ways through the Iraqi parliament for some time” before that, Banai notes.

The importance of the American withdrawal, in terms of that event spurring a major upshoot in Iranian influence, is likely overstated. “Iran’s influence in Iraq is... ascendant,” Arango writes. But hasn’t it been for some time? …

Read on.