In the Muddle of the Middle East

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iraq warThe White House’s credibility isn’t the only thing suffering from the President’s Middle East failures — so are tens of thousands of innocent people.

They are the real casualties of the administration’s indifference toward the religious persecution that’s raging in the region.

Even now, after a week of U.S. airstrikes, our own military is unconvinced that the President’s eleventh-hour strategy is an effective replacement for the American intervention that should have taken place all along.

In a brutal assessment of the situation, Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville warned that even with the U.S.’s involvement, “I in no way want to suggest that we have effectively contained or that we are somehow breaking the momentum of the IS (Islamic State).

The strikes are unlikely to affect (IS’s) overall capabilities or its operations in other areas of Iraq and Syria,”he explained, describing the effect as “very temporary.”

If anything, IS is showing its ability to adapt, military leaders say, and are moving to hide among village people, where they know they’re less vulnerable to U.S. attacks.

Meanwhile, the situation on Mount Sinjar is dire. The religious minorities still alive are trapped — not just by jihadists — but in suffocating heat with whatever food and water didn’t explode on impact from other nations’ humanitarian drops.

While the U.S. and other troops have been able to airlift some families to safety, the reality, as the United Nations puts it bluntly, is that “mass atrocity or genocide” is possible not just within days but “hours.” And with IS still on the move, the nightmare for other cities is only multiplying.

Late yesterday, I spoke to someone connected with Hardwire Global who is doing relief work on the ground in Kurdistan.

He explained that Erbil, its largest city, has a population of about 1.5 million people. That town has now been flooded by about two million refugees, desperately seeking shelter. And there is absolutely no place for them to go — no camps, no housing.

Most of them are sleeping in the streets or in parks, wherever they can find space. He said that he’s encountered people from Mosul who had been helping refugees from other parts of the country who are now refugees themselves.

And considering how this has all unraveled, it’s obvious that this is a crisis for which the U.S. is largely responsible.

President Obama can dodge a lot of things, but history isn’t one of them. As the former U.S. ambassador in Iraq, Paul Bremer, said frankly, the “blame Bush” defense will not work. “History will be pretty clear,” Bremer pointed out, “that the decision not to have any troops there after January 1, 2012 was a very serious, strategic mistake that the President made.

“At the very least, he explained, “We would’ve saved tens of thousands of lives… Certainly, if we had acted earlier in Syria, we would’ve faced a much less threatening problem today in Iraq.”

The President’s rhetoric has gotten him out of plenty of scrapes in the past, but Bremer predicts, “A lot of words from him aren’t going to change history’s judgment.