Former Obama National Security Adviser Tom Donilon on Sunday placed the blame for chaos in Iraq squarely at the feet of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
“He's failed to really integrate the Sunni political leadership into the government,” Donilon said. “He's engaged in really kind of putting together as sectarian and authoritarian state. And we're seeing the results of that at this point.”
Donilon also pointed to a “complete breakdown” on the border between Syria and Iraq and the infusion of foreign fighters for the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Donilon dismissed the argument that the U.S. should have tried harder to reach a Status of Forces Agreement allowing American troops to remain in Iraq.
“Our president, our military leadership are not going to allow armed forces to operate in an environment like that, anywhere in the world, without having the appropriate protection,” he said. “And that wasn't forthcoming. And, indeed, the politics in Iraq at that point wouldn't allow it to be forthcoming, is my own personal judgment.”
Donilon said the U.S. should provide intelligence, material, advice and planners to Baghdad. He added that air strikes are not a panacea, and would have to be done in coordination with actions on the ground.
He said any direct military action he would recommend would be contingent upon the Iraqi government taking steps toward an inclusive government.