Are those wringing their hands about Iraq (and Obama's golf) merely showing cognitive dissonance with the history mattering principle?
Regarding Iraq, Obama is a janitor. Bush broke it but didn't own it.
It is now emerging that the Obama administration may have long ago concluded that, sooner or later, Iraq would fall completely into the Iranian sphere of influence, with the Sunni being the losers.
If Obama is a peace with the path dependence of this outcome, playing golf makes sense.
The New York Times has just published an essay by Steven Simon, now a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, but formerly the senior director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council from 2011 to 2012.
ISIS Will Fail in Iraq, and Iran Will Be the Victor - NYTimes.com
Shouldn't we assume that Mr. Simon is telling us now what he told his superiors and President Obama in 2011 or before? In fact, isn't it likely he was hired because this was his point of view.
Before going to work for the President Mr. Simon wrote, in 2007, After the Surge The Case for U.S. Military Disengagement from Iraq.
The Overview of After the Surge:
The Case for U.S. Military Disengagement from Iraq is premised on the judgment that the United States is not succeeding in Iraq and that Iraq itself is more divided and violent than ever. It concludes that the administration’s decision to increase U.S. force levels will fail to prevent further deterioration in the situation—and that there is no alternative policy with the potential to turn things around.
As a result, Simon urges the United States to disengage militarily from Iraq, a disengagement that in his view should involve a negotiated accord with Iraq’s government, a dialogue with Iraq’s neighbors, and new diplomatic initiatives throughout the region. Simon argues that if the United States does all this, it can minimize the strategic costs of its failure in Iraq and even offset these losses in whole or in part.Mr. Simon argues, forcefully, in his newer New York Times essay there is no need to panic about the outcome in Iraq for such is path dependent (due to the population advantages of the Shia majority).
First, consider the brute demographic reality. Unlike in Syria, Sunnis are a relatively small part of the Iraqi population, about 25 percent — though they are a majority in some areas of the west and north. And in Baghdad their numbers are minuscule.Taken as a whole, Simon argues that the Shia won the moment we conquered Iraq without afterwards insisting on a high wall of separation between church and state. The Shia dominated government as ever since pushed the Sunnis out of Baghdad and marginalized the Sunni in everyday life in effect taunting the Sunnis into a war they cannot win and which will only make their lot worse.
And once the fighting is over, the Sunnis will be even more isolated than before. President Obama’s call for a multiethnic governing coalition aside, it is inconceivable that Mr. Maliki will now reverse his policy of excluding Sunnis from governance.