Mr. Kerry’s visit to Iraq on Sunday was the first by an American secretary of state since 2009. He came at a time when concerns are growing over Iraq’s role in the crisis in Syria, and when the United States’ influence in Iraq has been dwindling.
The State Department has been sharply reducing its huge presence here, and its diplomats have seemed powerless to affect the course of events on two of Washington’s pressing concerns: Iraqi tolerance for the Iranian weapons shipments to Syria and issuance of arrest warrants for certain Sunni leaders by the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.
The Obama administration has appeared to be less engaged in Iraq in recent months, as it has sought to “normalize” relations, and the Iraqis have distanced themselves from their former occupiers. And there is a sense among many Iraqi officials that the Americans are no longer willing to marshal the influence they still have.
“The Americans are not using claws or teeth,” Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Mr. Maliki’s former national security adviser, said shortly before Mr. Kerry’s visit.
Well, it worked out so wonderfully last time we tried it. I mean, in all seriousness, are we the assholes for blowing up the country and making grand promises and then not doing anything about them? Absolutely. Would continuing to do so actually change anything? Absolutely not, and while I’m not crazy about the idea that we are just gonna forget all about this war until it takes a big karmic bite out of our ass and we go through another round of “why do they hate us” 20 years from now, you tell me what would be the best alternative here. GTFO is the worst policy, except for all the other ones:
American promises to help shape a stable democracy in Syria have been met with skepticism by some Iraqi officials. In an interview late in 2012, Sheikh Humam Hamoudi, the chairman of the Iraqi Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, recalled a visit in September from A. Elizabeth Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs. “What she said was that they would educate the Syrians on how to be a democracy,” Mr. Hamoudi said, adding with a hint of sarcasm, “just like what happened in Iraq.”