NYT's Friedman: International Force Needed to Rebuild Iraq

Monday, 11 Aug 2014 11:15 AM

By Wanda Carruthers

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An international force is the only way to rebuild Iraq following the seizure of territories by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and would require a long-term commitment, said Thomas Friedman, columnist for The New York Times.

"You're seeing states [in Iraq] fall apart. And, I think the only way to really rebuild them is an international force to come in and stay for 20, 30 years," Friedman told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday.

Story continues below video.

"Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough questioned how the United States could assemble an international force when Europe appeared unwilling to participate.

"Europe has been on a vacation from history since 1991. They do absolutely nothing," Scarborough, a former Florida Republican congressman, told Friedman. "It is the Europeans who face the gravest threat from ISIS. Not us."

Friedman said in an interview he held with President Barack Obama on Friday, the president dismissed criticism about whether the situation in Iraq would be different if the United States had armed Syrian rebels opposing the government of Bashar Assad.

If the United States had supported Syrian rebels, Friedman said Obama believed "in the end, they would have eaten them alive, and we just would have ended up getting a lot more people killed or being drawn in ourselves."

While the United States had tried to go in and rebuild a country during the Iraq War, Friedman said the only success stories in the Middle East took place in Tunisia and Kurdistan — two countries "we've had nothing to do with." He said an outcome had to include a desire by the Iraqi people to rally against ISIS.

"Without a group of Iraqis who are ready to come together and build a political platform of sharing power, any force we put on that — yes, we can kill bad guys, we can suppress different things for a while. But, without that underlying political consensus, nothing good will happen.

"By saying if we'd only armed the rebels, this isn't about who you give guns and training to. It's not about the way. It's about the will of the people to live together," Friedman said.

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