Ex-Defense, State Official: Letting Iraq Crumble Is Not an Option

Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 06:49 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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Leaving Iraq to its own devices — and certain demise — will only speed the introduction of the terrorists breeding there now into the United States, a former U.S. official who served in Iraq told Newsmax TV on Wednesday. 

R.C. "Shack" Shackelford, who worked for the departments of Defense and State, and oversaw $1 billion in U.S. development aid to Iraq, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner that letting the radical Islamist army ISIS embed itself there, fracture the country, and expel or murder non-believers is "just not a reasonable course of action."

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Shackelford said that direct American action is especially critical "when genocide is ongoing," alluding to Iraq's non-Muslim Yazidis, who fled the ISIS onslaught by the thousands and are at risk of dying stranded in a barren mountain range. 

He also said that the U.S., has an obligation to help Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, home to America's strongest Iraqi allies and, until ISIS, an island of stability compared to the violence-ridden Iraqi territories where two clashing Arab populations, Sunni and Shia, predominate.

"There's a great deal of difference between the Arabs and the Kurds," said Schackelford, who spent five years in Iraqi cities including Baghdad, Mosul and Erbil during the U.S. occupation. "The Kurds have a sense of nationalism that others don't have, and it's basically because somebody's been trying to kill them for the last 500 years.

"They are nationalists first, and they are very permissive in their religious tolerance," he said. "In Kurdistan, you can see Christians and Muslims living side by side or across the street from each other, and they've been getting along with each other for many, many, many decades. You don't have that in other parts of Iraq."

Schackelford agreed that U.S. foreign policy has had a bad run of late in places such as Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt.

"Unfortunately, in the Middle East, we have picked more losers than we have winners," he said.

Shackelford said that the U.S. State Department is still struggling to adjust to an era of protracted global conflict.

"They have had a huge change in the way diplomacy is approached by being in conflict zones," he said. "Most of the State Department people don't want to be there, and former Secretary of State [Condoleeza] Rice ran into that problem. She was sued by the Foreign Service Officers Association when she was attempting to make the best of the best go … because most of them did not want to go into these conflict areas. It's not what they've been used to. It's not what they've been trained for."

Schackelford said that State "needs more time to work through more of its internal issues" to become more effective at securing U.S. interests abroad.

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