Oddly for an organization defeated and rent asunder by President Obama, al Qaeda has just scored a historic win with the taking of Mosul in Iraq.
Indeed, al Qaeda is on the move, expanding its territorial reach in ways that should frighten us all and seemed highly unlikely circa 2008.
No doubt State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf will pop up before the day is over to and explain that the victors of Mosul aren’t core al Qaeda, if she hasn’t done so already.
Somehow, I don't find that comforting.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens calls the fall of Mosul “as big in its implications as Russia's annexation of Crimea.”
This is President Obama’s real legacy: The creation of the first Jihadi state in modern history, stretching from central Syria to central Iraq and now approaching Baghdad, all because President Obama saw everything through a political lens.
The Obama administration has not as yet had a comment on the fall of Mosul. Taking note of the president’s strangely unrealistic view of the world, Stephens writes:
Last month this is what Barack Obama said to the 1,064 graduating cadets at the U.S. Military Academy: "Four and a half years later, as you graduate, the landscape has changed. We have removed our troops from Iraq. We are winding down our war in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda's leadership on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been decimated."
That let-the-sunshine-in line must have come back to the cadets, when news came Sunday that the Pakistani Taliban, who operate in that border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, had carried out a deadly assault on the main airport in Karachi, population 9.4 million. To clarify, the five Taliban Mr. Obama exchanged for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are Afghan Taliban who operate on the other side of the border.
Within 24 hours of the Taliban attack in Pakistan, Boko Haram's terrorists in Nigeria kidnapped 20 more girls, adding to the 270 still-missing—"our girls," as they were once known.
Then Mosul fell. The al Qaeda affiliate known as ISIS stormed and occupied the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, population 1.8 million and not far from Turkey, Syria and Iran. It took control of the airport, government buildings, and reportedly looted some $430 million from Mosul's banks. ISIS owns Mosul.
Iraq's army in tatters, ISIS rolled south Wednesday and took the city of Tikrit. It is plausible that this Islamic wave will next take Samarra and then move on to Baghdad, about 125 miles south of Tikrit. They will surely stop outside Baghdad, but that would be enough. Iraq will be lost.
Possibly like many who read Inkwell, I was a supporter of George Bush’s Iraq War. If I had been able to see the future, of course I would have favored leaving the murderous Saddam Hussein in power. He likely would not have let al Qaeda take over Iraq.
But what is so sickening is that we won the Iraq War. President Obama came into office with that conflict largely over and what was needed was peacekeeping troops to ensure that our gains would not be lost. We’ve had troops in Europe since World War II and this has not led us to go to war with Europeans.
But President Obama wanted to be known for bringing the troops home. There are charges that his administration didn’t seriously try to negotiate a status of troops agreement with Iraq that would let us remain there. President Obama was quite flip in one interview I remember saying that, if things went wrong because of our pullout, we could go back. Just like that.
Mosul's fall matters for what it reveals about a terrorism whose threat Mr. Obama claims he has minimized. For starters, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) isn't a bunch of bug-eyed "Mad Max" guys running around firing Kalashnikovs. ISIS is now a trained and organized army.
The seizures of Mosul and Tikrit this week revealed high-level operational skills. ISIS is using vehicles and equipment seized from Iraqi military bases. Normally an army on the move would slow down to establish protective garrisons in towns it takes, but ISIS is doing the opposite, by replenishing itself with fighters from liberated prisons.
Every time you see a charitable appeal to help the soldiers whose lives have been altered by horrific wounds, think of this end to the Iraq War. It is an end that didn’t have to happen: we could have protected our gains, except for the vanity of one man.
That vain man is also an ignorant man, who loves to talk of the "arc of history," but omitted actually reading about what happened in history.
Did he not, when he gave his famous Cairo speech, realize the true nature of Islamic jihad?