The Iraq Debacle: What To Read (and listen to), Part II


Following up on Part One, here is what you should be reading to understand what’s going on in Iraq and why it matters to America.

5 Questions with Ambassador James F. Jeffrey on ISIS and Iraq – Yes, I am reading my own interview with Ambassador Jeffrey, America’s former envoy to Baghdad and Ankara (currently at WINEP). And I am re-reading it. And I even listed it first here. It is that good. You should read it too. His informative comments on the ongoing crisis in Iraq, as well as the roles of Iran and Turkey, cannot be missed.

“No, Obama Didn’t Lose Iraq”Colin Kahl (@ColinKahl, who was a key actor on Iraq policy as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East from February 2009 to December 2011) provides a persuasive “just the facts” rebuttal to those who have laid the ISIS Crisis (hey, that rhymes) at the feet of President Obama. There was no politically feasible way to leave troops in Iraq after December 2011, Kahl argues, and even had a contingent of American troops remained in Mess-o-Potamia, they could not have stopped the ISIS offensive. Kahl blames the crumbling of the Iraq Army in Mosul, Tikrit, and elsewhere on politics. He argues, “Reversing these dynamics will require real power sharing in Baghdad and substantial outreach to local Sunni communities throughout northern and western Iraq.”

How an arrest in Iraq revealed Isis’s $2bn jihadist network – The Guardian’s Martin Chulov (@MartinChulov), reporting from Baghdad, details an Iraqi seizure of intelligence from ISIS two days before the fall of Mosul. ISIS thumb drives reveal their detailed accounting, sources of revenue (including Syrian antiquities), and the names and contact details of the organization’s foreign volunteers. Also revealed were names of ISIS agents who had infiltrated Iraqi ministries.

Iraq, ISIS, and the US Response – WOTR’s Doug Ollivant (@DouglasOllivant) participated in a great interview along with WaPo’s Liz Sly (@LizSly) and WINEP’s Andrew Tabler (@AndrewTabler) at WHYY (Philadelphia). Seriously, listen to the whole thing. Ollivant has some good lines, one of which compares Iraq’s Parliament with the U.S. Congress.

Iraq Military Situation Report – A modest and informative assessment from over the weekend of the state of play by Ken Pollack (h/t @charlie_simpson).

Wider War – Dexter Filkins offers a mournful take on what little America can do.