John Kerry landed in Iraq Monday to dispense advice to Iraqi leaders in the wake of military gains by insurgents and Islamist extremists.
Kerry’s words contained no surprises, since he spoke of the need for inclusive policies by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Kerry also went as far as to guarantee success, if these policies are followed.
While the U.S. secretary of state focused on how to move forward, he and other U.S. officials have avoided several questions that are of interest to average Iraqi citizens, and average U.S. taxpayers, such as:
Who is responsible for squandering $20 billion on training Iraqi military and security personnel who just ran away when faced with an insurgent challenge? Which American and Iraqi officials were responsible for wasting and misspending a total of $60 billion in post-invasion reconstruction aid, and was anyone held accountable? Who is responsible for setting up a sectarian-based system of government in Iraq after the U.S. invasion, which has led in great part to the current woes? Who in the U.S. or Iraq has a feasible vision for how to deal with Islamist extremists, other than the tired, old and obviously ineffective and detrimental policy of drone strikes and high-tech surveillance?
If American and Iraqi politicians intend to offer a re-run of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, they shouldn’t be surprised when they hear a deafening silence, not wild applause.
In the end, Kerry promised a dose of “intense, sustained” support for the Iraqi authorities, and judging by Washington’s track record over the last decade, the question is whether this assistance will end up hurting the country more than helping it.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 24, 2014, on page 7.