Posted on behalf of Nicole Naoum
There’s nothing quite like taking a leisurely stroll down a cobblestone street that predates your own country by over a thousand years only to have your eye nearly gouged out by a selfie-stick wielding tourist moments later. Venturing further into the city, the potent aroma of sea salt, marijuana, and on occasion, raw sewage, wafts through the gothic spires and narrow alleyways. With the late afternoon sky tinged with vibrant hues of purple and pink, you begin to appreciate the silence, as distant echoes of street performers and roaring motorbikes fade into the horizon.
With ISIS largely defeated, Iraq has retreated to the periphery of American attention; America and its allies abroad have left Iraq on its own after over a decade of intense involvement.This lack of engagement leaves a power vacuum open for exploitation by Iran, and yes, even a resurgent ISIS. A policy of complete disengagement is not only to the detriment of American interests, but those of its regional allies. The United States must decide whether it will stand idly by as the modest but appreciable gains made by trillions of dollars and the lives of thousands of US service members are swept away by Islamic extremism, or selectively engage in the region to counterbalance growing Iranian influence.