What’s the Pentagon Endgame in Iraq?

TIME

Iraq has become a sucking chest wound, and the U.S. military is showing up like a doctor who left his black bag back at the hospital. On purpose.

The U.S. military doesn’t want to go back into Iraq. The U.S. public doesn’t want the U.S. military to go back there. Yet Iraq’s U.S.-succored corrupt and sectarian government is losing whatever tentative grip it once had across western Iraq, forcing President Obama to dispatch just enough military force to the region so no one can say he’s doing nothing to salvage the 4,486 lives and $1 trillion Washington spent replacing Saddam Hussein with Nouri al-Maliki.

But 300 U.S. military advisers, along with a small fleet of warships and aircraft in the region, are unlikely to turn the tide on their own without major political changes and some form of reconciliation. “This is not just some small militant group against the Iraqi…

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