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MailTribune.com
  • Our Opinion: Put down the hammer

    More military involvement in Iraq is no more likely to work than the war
  • If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat every problem as though it were a nail.
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  • If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat every problem as though it were a nail.
    Psychologist Abraham Maslow wasn't speaking of America's options for dealing with sectarian struggles in Iraq — he wrote the words paraphrased above in the 1960s — but it is applicable to the present situation. And it accurately describes the drumbeat of pressure on President Obama to use military intervention against the Sunni insurgents threatening Nouri al-Maliki's government in Baghdad.
    Obama's critics seek to portray him as weak, and to blame his administration for the collapse of order in Iraq after the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal with his daughter Liz, blasted the president for his alleged failure to prevent the uprising by ISIS — the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
    This is the same vice president who was spectacularly wrong about virtually everything in Iraq before and after the U.S. invaded more than a decade ago — wrong about the weapons of mass destruction, wrong about Saddam Hussein being in league with al-Qaida, wrong about U.S. troops being greeted as liberators.
    Cheney and other critics, including several prominent senators, are calling for military intervention as though that is the only option available to address the current crisis. It's not.
    The sad fact is that there are no good options at this point. Maliki largely has brought this situation on himself by refusing to give minority Sunnis a real voice in his government, which is widely perceived as corrupt. Now he wants the U.S. to ride to his rescue.
    We don't presume to have the answer, although continuing efforts to pressure Maliki to step aside and allow a new government to be formed are probably the most promising.
    The real tragedy here is that Iraq likely would not be in this situation had the U.S. not invaded in 2003.
    The country was deeply divided over whether to go to war, and America's allies were split as well. In February of that year, the Mail Tribune Editorial Board opposed launching the invasion, saying we were not convinced it was in this country's best interest.
    We are unconvinced now that further military involvement by the U.S. will fix what is broken, and concerned that it could suck the U.S. into a civil war.
    A political cartoon published recently sums up the present debate beautifully. It depicts President Obama as a firefighter training a hose on a bonfire labeled "Iraq." Looking on are Cheney, former President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as a reporter asks Obama, "The arsonists want to know why you haven't put this out yet."
    Why, indeed?
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