OpinionIran in the World PressThe strategic cost of Obama's election-driven withdrawal

The strategic cost of Obama’s election-driven withdrawal

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Wall Street Journal: On Sunday Secretary of State John Kerry was reduced to pleading with Iraqi officials to search Iranian flights that fly over Iraq on their way to arming Bashar Assad’s Syrian government. The Wall Street Journal

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

The strategic cost of President Obama’s election-driven total withdrawal from Iraq is now becoming clearer. On Sunday Secretary of State John Kerry was reduced to pleading with Iraqi officials to search Iranian flights that fly over Iraq on their way to arming Bashar Assad’s Syrian government.

With private entreaties doing no good, Mr. Kerry took his complaints public on Sunday on a visit to Baghdad, telling reporters that Iraq’s failure even to search Iran’s overflights leaves the American people “wondering how it is a partner.” Too bad Mr. Obama didn’t think about that in 2011 when he could have struck a deal to station 10,000 or so U.S. troops in Iraq for the long haul, which would have sealed the kind of partnership Mr. Kerry now wants.

Mr. Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, thought she had secured a Baghdad pledge last year to search Iran’s flights, but U.S. officials say Iraq has searched only two of what have become almost daily trips to Damascus. Mr. Kerry implies that this is an Iraq betrayal, but with the U.S. seen as wanting to withdraw from the region and Iran able to stir up plenty of political trouble inside Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has little incentive to take a risk for U.S. interests.

Mr. Obama is also discovering that there are strategic costs to doing so little in two years to topple Iran’s proxy government in Syria. Refugees are flooding into Jordan, threatening the stability of that U.S. ally, and no one seems sure who has control over Syria’s chemical weapons. Mr. Obama claims “the tide of war is receding,” but the main result of his abdications is that the U.S. has less influence to stop war from spreading.

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