Many cautiously support some US action in Iraq

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- After being out of Iraq for three years, America is going back. Not in the same capacity as before but, Thursday, the President pledged as many as 300 military advisers and targeted military action to a nation overrun by ISIS -- an extremist militant group inspired by al-Qaeda.

Aki Pertiz, a contributing CIA counter-terrorism analyst to thinktank Third Way, said it was an awkward place to be for the President Barack Obama.

"He campaigned as the guy who got us out of Iraq but now he's sort of forced to go back into Iraq," said Peritz, who penned the book "Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Count-Terrorism Campaign that Killed bin Laden and Devastated al Qaeda."

The President added that the U.S. has increased intelligence and reconnaissance operations, while leaving open the option for air strikes. But he did stress: no ground troops.

D.C. resident Scott Weber is one of many who acknowledge the difficulty of the situation.

"On one hand, I don't see walking away from a mess that we created, on the other hand I don't see engaging in another war," said Weber.

The American people have certainly not forgotten how politically toxic the war in Iraq was after eight years fighting, nearly 4,500 Americans killed, 30,000 more injured, and the trillions of dollars that have been spent.

"Most Americans don't want to talk about that country anymore," said Peritz.

"It's not, at this juncture, our problem. We were in there for what, almost a decade? If what we did in there didn't solve things by now, what more are we obligated to do?" asked D.C. resident Steven Lowe.

John Hatcher of D.C. was willing to pledge a little more support, though, with caution.

"Maybe the air support they just asked for, we should give them but that should be it. That should be an international decision not a unilateral American decision. We already screwed it up once," said Hatcher.

Peritz said, as unpalatable as it might be to even discuss military options, the chaos in Iraq requires some sort of U.S. response as ISIS has taken several major Iraqi cities, a chemical weapons complex and is now closing in on Baghdad.

"There's a direct threat to America and I'll tell you why: a lot of terrorist organizations have no interest in actually hitting the homeland. But when you look at this terrorist threat both in Iraq and in Syria, they have both the intent and the capability to strike the homeland - whether they have the money, the manpower or the moxy to actually do it," said Peritz.

Maud Abeel, a New Yorker visiting D.C., has been against American wars going back to Vietnam but even she thinks America has a role to play in Iraq.

"I'm very sad that what we did there did not leave Iraq in a secure position to rebuild and that we have to stay involved. But, right now, I think it would just be a mistake to completely pull out," said Abeel.

Those who do cautiously support some sort of American presence in Iraq also acknowledge concerns about mission creep, that it could begin with a few hundred military advisers and snowball into much more.


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