As the cities in Iraq fell, one by one, to extremists in the past week, it’s hard not to imagine what must be going on in the minds of the American men and women who fought to take those cities over from extremists just a few years ago.

Thousands of lives lost, tens of thousands injured and billions of dollars were spent to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein and extremists who want to harm America.

The results, while promising at times, now seem to be at an all time low.

We were led to believe that a free Iraq — a democratic Iraq — would blossom into a beacon of hope in the region; a shining example that other Middle Eastern countries could follow and bring peace to a part of the world where war is the norm.

It seemed a noble cause, but it’s just not working the way our nation’s leaders hoped it would when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.

Now, President Barack Obama is being tasked with coming up with a new strategy against the extremists.

In an Associated Press story Tuesday, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the administration must act quickly to provide the Iraqi government with assistance before “every gain made by the U.S. and allied troops is lost.”

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has conquered several cities in Syria and Iraq. The administration is sending almost 300 American forces in and around Iraq to help secure U.S. assets, according to the AP. Obama is considering airstrikes and other options.

The issues are complex. The answers are not easy.

Do we intervene in the conflict? Do we hang back? Do we let them kill each other?

What’s best for the future? What’s best for America?

One thing is certain, though.

The whole mess is a damn shame.

All the sacrifice from our military and all the efforts to improve Iraq have amounted to a country awash in war and a danger to the region and world.

I guess there is a glimmer of hope, though. Perhaps our efforts there did plant enough seeds to defeat this most recent foe — ISIL. Perhaps the Iraqi government and its military, built by the U.S., can overcome ISIL with the training and equipment we gave them.

Our soldiers who fought there deserve that much from the Iraqis.

Jacob Brooks, a former Army tanker, is the Killeen Daily Herald’s city editor. Contact him at or 254-501-7468.

Contact Jacob Brooks or (254) 501-7468

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