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The troops will stay to block the worst of any really ugly Shia reprisals against the Sunnis, and to referee among the many disparate groups (Peshmerga, Yazidi, Turkmen, the Orwellian-named/Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, along with animated militias and factions of all flavors) who the U. More significantly, the Iraq Wars created the template for decades of conflict to come. Over the years the media dutifully advised the American people what the new point of it all was, reporting the changes as it might report the new trends in fashion — for fall, it’s shorter hemlines, no more al Qaeda, and anti-ISIS, ladies! There would never again be a need for a formal declaration of war, such decisions now clearly were within the president’s whims and ordinations.

He could ramp things up, or slow things down, as his mind, goals, temperament, and often domestic political needs, required.

For all but the most special occasions the blather about democracy and freeing the oppressed was dropped.

Trillions had been spent, untold lives lost or ruined, but the U. A coalition of 73 nations and organizations (including Chad and Ireland, the vestigial list is still ) was formed to help, even though no one ever heard of them again absent a few bombing runs by the Brits.

It was as if the events of 2003-2011 had never happened; Barack Obama stepped to the edge of the Iraq abyss, peered over, and shrugged his shoulders.

Initially off to the side of the 2014-era Sunni-Shia struggle but soon drawn in by Islamic State’s territorial gains were the Iraqi Kurds, forever promised a homeland whenever the U. needed them and then denied that homeland when the U. did not need them to oppose Saddam in Iraq War 1.0, help stabilize liberated Iraq in War 2.0, or defeat Islamic State in Iraq War 3.0. Then allow the Iranians and Shia Iraqis to do whatever they pleased in the earlier this month it was appalled by a mass execution of Sunni prisoners in Iraq and called for an immediate halt. The outcome of Iraq War 3.0 was never really in doubt, only how long it might take. knew how to fight, with none of that tricky counterinsurgency stuff.

With the semi-allied forces of the United States, , the Kurds, and local Shia militias directed against them, Islamic State could never hold territory in what was a struggle of attrition. Retaking Ramadi, Fallujah, and Mosul were the same set-piece battle the American army first fought in Vicksburg in 1863. No parades in Washington, no toppling of giant Saddam statues in Baghdad.

The Iraq of 2014 was all Made in America, and due to low oil prices, much of it was also paid for by America, via subsidies and foreign aid to replace the petroleum revenues that never came.

The gleefully corrupt Baghdad authorities of 2014 held little control over most of the nation; vast areas were occupied by Islamic State, itself more or less welcomed by Iraqi Sunnis as protection against the genocide they feared at the hands of the Iranian puppet Shia central government.That government had been installed by Iran out of the mess of the 2010 elections the U. held in hopes of legitimizing its tail-tucked exit from Iraq. abandoned the Kurds and their desire for a homeland, and stood back while Saddam crushed a Shia uprising the U. had helped provoke, internal Iraqi affairs were just too messy to be of lasting concern; that was one of the big takeaways from Iraq War 2.0 and all that failed nation building.The Sunnis were vulnerable because the American Surge of 2008 had betrayed them, coercing the tribes into ratting out al Qaeda with the promise of a role in governing a new Iraq that never happened once the Iranian-backed Shia Prime Minister al-Maliki took power. Obama’s, and now Trump’s, Iraq War 3.0 strategy was medieval, brutal in its simplicity: kill people until there was literally no Islamic State left inside Iraq. Do what we’re good at, killing, and then walk away.With the Sunnis in Iraq hanging on with the vitality of an abused shelter dog (and Iranian-supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad apparently to remain in ), Saudi influence is on the wane. The armed groups mostly set aside differences dating from Biblical times to fight ISIS, but with that behind them, about all they still have in common is mutual . goals include keeping a lid on things so no one back home starts looking for someone to blame in the next election cycle, wondering what went wrong, “Who lost Iraq? They ended in 2017 when Persian Gulf oil is no longer a centerpiece of American foreign policy.In the broader regional picture, unlike the Saudi monarchs, Iran’s leaders do not rule in fear of an Islamic revolution. With its victory in Iraq, stake in Syria, and friends in Lebanon, Iran has pieced together a land corridor to the Mediterranean at very low cost. The War to Make All Wars Going forward, Trump is unlikely to pull many troops out of Iraq, having seen the political price Obama paid for doing so in 2011. There is zero chance of any national cohesion, and zero chance of any meaningful power-sharing by Baghdad. When oil no longer really mattered, Iraq no longer really mattered. The point of it all then shape-shifted effortlessly to containing Saddam via air power to removing weapons of mass destruction to freeing Iraq from an evil dictator to destroying al Qaeda to destroying Islamic State to something something buttress against Iran.City after Sunni city were ground into little Stalingrads by air power and artillery (since 2014, the United States spent more than $ on its air campaign against Islamic State) before being turned over to the Shia militias for the ethnic cleansing of renegade Sunni elements. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi simply on December 9, 2017 the war which essentially started in 1991 over.

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