First I do not have military contacts, especially willing to reveal classified briefing materials, so I can not respond to some of what you say.
None of this is classified - you can look it up. If you want an excellent source, I recommend Long War Journal (boy howdy did they look good and the DoD look bad after the Afghan Papers came out). But fair enough about the lack of military experience.
however I am quite sure no one knew in 2014 what the future status of any of these groups would be.
In 2014 it wasn't a matter of the Islamic State's future
status, but rather their status at the time
. At the time
they were a major threat, overrunning territory across eastern Syria and northern Iraq. It was in 2014 that they took Fallujah
, and threatened Baghdad
Not making an argument for L&H (leaving and hoping). Remember Pres Obama was handed the SOFA. He saw as many saw a war costing America dearly in lost lives in every respect and lost treasure. He was of course unenthusiastic about staying or returning. Thus it shouldn't startle anyone that he was reticent in returning after just leaving. There would have been no clear mission. Killing terrorists is not good enough.
Keeping VEO's suppressed is, I think, absolutely a worthy mission in and of itself. Especially when you look at our presence in 2011 - heck, I think we were losing more people to automobile accidents in-country then than we were to the enemy.
You and I (and Pres Obama) with hindsight can better see what could have been done which may have mitigated circumstances. Somewhere between turning the ME into a large sheet of glass and leaving them to their own devices, I suspect there is a reasonable approach for supporting American interests.
What happened is that the Administration spent about a year and a half pushing back on the IC trying to tell them that ISIS was a large and growing threat, and excluding senior enterprise leaders who told them the truth on the matter from future meetings.
Again you say this but that is not supported by the whistleblower complaints. They were directed against top IC officials who were altering reports. These officials were not excluded from meetings as it was their reports which were presented.
That is what I'm pointing out to you - because the people who told the Administration what they didn't want to hear weren't invited back
, and so the remainder altered their work accordingly. The President was quite clear that he didn't want to hear things that may suggest his decision in 2012 had gone badly, or that he may have to send troops back into Iraq.
Large and growing threat. See remarks above on just leaving. This lies in with the JV remark. AQ was international in scope. They were in fact the gold standard in terrorism by which a reasonable person would compare any group. ISIS did not compare to that standard at the time. They were in fact a JV wannabe at the time.
:shrug: Respectfully, this is flatly incorrect. IN 2014, ISIS was not a JV team, and, in fact, if anything, had surpassed AQ by most measures (more people, more territory, more money, etc.), up to and including holding and governing territory, including territory from two separate nation-states, some of which they had seized by defeating conventional force in battle
. In 2012, AQI could have been described as battered and diffused. In 2014, this was nowhere near the case.
They were local players which the Iraqis thought they could handle
In 2014 the Iraqi Armed Forces were fleeing at the very approach of ISIS forces, abandoning their weapons and vehicles, and ISIS had seized a goodly portion of their country. Ayatollah Sistani called for every Iraqi male who could pick up a rifle to come protect against ISIS because it was so obvious that the government couldn't handle them. So.... no, because in 2014 the Iraqi's also took us
back because they were desperate to A) survive and B) defeat ISIS, which they could not do on their own.
That they rapidly morphed into a significant player could not be known at the time.
They were already
a significant player and this was known at the time because it was obvious at the time
Even our Embassy in Iraq at the time didn't know what our policy was, because the Administration refused to have one.
Has any administration had a cogent policy for the ME?
That is not at all the same and I suspect you know it
Trump keeps trying to pull us out of the Middle East
Yes and no.
Yes he has no understanding of what our "mission" is, but he does understand dollars and cents. So on the one hand he says he wants out and on the other hand he wants to keep the oil, he will stay in Iraq even if they want him out unless they pay, he has in every respect acted as PM Chamberlain did with appeasement in Syria to the Russians and al-Assad. This chaotic approach to policy is probably a direct consequence of his narcissism. He will act in whatever manner necessary to get adulation and praise even if those actions are contradictory in nature or policy.
Trump has announced withdrawals multiple time and tried to push for withdrawals multiple times only to be restrained by his advisors. He's tried to get us out of Syria, Afghanistan, and, I believe, Iraq. That is his instinctive approach, which is why he keeps returning to it. It is absolutely a chaotic approach to policy, and it is absolutely damaging, but it is
his preferred, instinctive, answer.
But we have wandered from the thread. We have been at war with Iran since 1979. My point is don't be indignant about what Iran does, or present rationalizations for American actions.
Indignant? Nah - you are correct about 1979. We are long past being surprised by Iran trying to kill Americans.