But sending more American troops there, as President Obama did last week, will repair nothing. It will do the opposite: prolong the war, guarantee more human suffering, and serve the interests of the Islamic State and our other extremist enemies.
Most American interventions in the Middle East over the last half-century have been aimed at resolving problems created by previous interventions. This one fits the pattern perfectly. It is not "a completely different game," as Admiral John Kirby claimed in announcing the new deployment. It is the same old game. Washington remains gripped by the astonishingly durable fantasy that there is a military solution to problems afflicting the Middle East. In fact there is none. It is time to break the cycle of intervening, withdrawing, and then returning to clean up the unexpected mess.
Americans, like everyone else in the world, wish to be rid of enemies. We are led to believe that we command the world's most powerful army. So the solution seems obvious: use the powerful army to crush the enemy. According to last week's announcement, our troop strength in Iraq is to be doubled to 3,000, and we will spend $5 billion to fight there over the next year. With that commitment of soldiers and cash, we hope to accomplish what we failed to accomplish in Iraq a decade ago while spending $60 billion per year and fielding a force of more than 150,000. Only willful self-deception allows us to imagine that such an enterprise can succeed.