Democratic congressman: Obama has no long-term strategy in Iraq

Special to WorldTribune.com

The Obama administration has no “clear endgame” in Iraq, said a Democratic congressman and former Marine who served four tours in Iraq.

Rep. Seth Moulton, Massachusetts Democrat, blasted President Barack Obama’s strategy against Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and slammed Obama’s refusal to say American troops deployed to Iraq are on a combat mission.

U.S. soldiers are “absolutely” engaged in fighting on the ground, Moulton said in an interview on May 12 with CNN.

Rep. Seth Moulton.
Rep. Seth Moulton.

“The bottom line is that we have a military strategy to defeat ISIL, but we don’t have any long-term political strategy to ensure the peace,” Moulton said. “And that’s why we find ourselves back in Iraq again today, re-fighting the same battles that I and my fellow Marines and soldiers fought just eight or ten years ago.”

The U.S. needs a “clear mission for the troops” and a “clear endgame” coupled with a strategy to maintain stability once ISIL is defeated, the congressman said.

“Look, we already fought these same battles against Al Qaida, but then we pulled out of Iraq so quickly,” he said.

“And not just pulling out the troops. I’m talking about pulling out the diplomats, the people who were working in the prime minister’s office, in the ministries. The Iraqi government just went off the rails, and as a result created this political vacuum that ISIL came in to occupy.”

Even though the U.S. has over 4,000 troops on the ground in Iraq, the White House refuses to call their presence a “combat mission,” insisting they are only there to train and advise local forces.

“That’s just simply not true; this absolutely is a combat mission,” Moulton said. “In 2004, I had an advisory mission as a Marine with my platoon in Iraq. We were advisers to an Iraqi unit, and when that Iraqi unit started to get overrun, we went to their assistance and started the Battle of Najaf, which was some of the fiercest fighting of the war.”

“It’s very clear from the death of the Navy SEAL just last week that this is absolutely a combat mission,” Moulton said, referring to Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV, who was killed last week when ISIL fighters attacked Kurdish peshmerga forces he was advising.

“This is a president who promised to get us out of Iraq and then promised to use the tools of diplomacy to prevent wars from happening and that just hasn’t happened,” Moulton said. “Our solution, our strategy is to train Iraqi troops. Well, you don’t fix Iraqi politics by training Iraqi troops. And Iraqi politics are broken. That’s the fundamental problem in Iraq that we need to fix.”

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