NEW YORK (CNN) – Obama says we must guard against mission creep in Iraq.
Gulf war, 1990-1991. Iraq war, 2003-2011. And now in 2014, U.S. forces back on the ground. Is this Iraq war 3?
The United States will continue to increase our support to Iraqi security forces.
In the President’s words Thursday, “Ultimately this is something that is going to have to be solved by the Iraqis.” Some heard echoes of President Kennedy announcing the first U.S. deployment to Vietnam.
“They are the ones who have to win it or lose it. We can help them, we can give them equipment, we can send our men out there as advisers, but they have to win it.”
Even this relatively small deployment of about 300 troops, compared to the 165,000 at the peak of operation Iraqi freedom, is generating warnings from surprising quarters. General David Petraeus commanded the troop surge credited with saving Iraq from another civil war in 2007.
“This cannot be the United States being the air force for Shia Militias or a Shia on Sunni Arab fight.”
Calls are growing now that any hope for compromise with Iraq’s disaffected Sunnis and Kurds, requires Shitte Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to go.
“I think that most of us that have followed this are really convinced that the Maliki government, candidly, has got to go if you want any reconciliation.”
However, more broadly, there is reluctance even within the President’s own party about any involvement in a war Mr. Obama called “dumb”.
“After a decade of war the American people have had enough. American families have had enough,” said Aaron Miller of the Wilson Center.
For many Iraq observers, U.S. troops’ return is drawing uncomfortable comparisons to America’s second longest war in Vietnam.
“We have to make sure that when we use military force it’s an instrument to achieve a set of specific objectives. If we don’t know what those objectives are or the objectives are unattainable then military force becomes not only an end itself, it becomes a dead end,” said Jim Sciutoo, Chief National Security Correspondent.