President Obama’s reluctance to recommit U.S. military forces in Iraq is driven in part by a recognition that the country lacks the basic building blocks of a stable democracy. First, its borders do not coincide with the loyalties of ethnic groups living within them. Second, past leaders have repeatedly used brutal repression to hold the country together. Third, Iraq has a long history of being a battleground for neighboring states — a status it retains today. Fourth, the Islamic belief structure is incompatible with key values in the Christian West such as separation of church and state. Fifth, emancipation of women is opposed by many Iraqis, regardless of what the country’s constitution may say. Bottom line: U.S. forces sent to support the Iraqi government will likely end up defending a dictatorship. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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