A few weeks ago, in a major policy address at West Point’s graduation, President Obama outlined his military  strategy going forward from Iraq and Afghanistan.  The US, he announced, would avoid direct engagements as much as possible, and focus instead on training and equipping the national armies of our allies instead.  To some, this bold  new direction had a familiar ring, but we were assured that we had learned our lessons from Vietnam, and would proceed mindful of the pitfalls of such a course.

A front-page headline in today’s New York Times, however, seems to cast something of a shadow on this assertion:

Exhausted and Bereft, Iraqi Soldiers Quit Fight

Oops.  It obtains that the Iraqis have lost control of Mosul, their second-largest city, which is now in the hands of ISIS, a “militant” army so toxic that even al Qaeda has broken relations with them.   This comes on the heels of the fall of Fallujah, another major city and the scene of some of the fiercest fighting earlier in the war, to the same happy band.  To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to lose one major city may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two seems like carelessness.

In any event, the troops which we have so carefully “trained and equipped” for so many years now have quite literally, by the thousands, cut and run, leaving behind their arms, armored vehicles, artillery and even their uniforms (so that they could more easily blend in with fleeing refugees).  According to the Times:

American officials who had asserted that the $14 billion that the United States had spent on the Iraqi security forces would prepare them to safeguard the country after American troops left were forced to ponder images from Mosul of militants parading around captured Humvees.