The deterioration of Iraq into sectarian violence demands the same strategy espoused by Treebeard the Ent in Tolkien's The Two Towers: "Don't be hasty."
The al-Qaeda offshoot ISIS added the strategic Iraqi city of Tal Afar to its prizes Monday, and took another step towards its stated goal of establishing a Sunni Islamic state across Syria and Iraq. Secretary of State John Kerry has said Washington is "open to discussions" for cooperation with arch-enemy Iran to return power to Iraq's Shiite prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, according to the AP.
The loss of Iraqi cities that Americans died to gain is painful, but that pain must not send us staggering into our next disaster. If we learned nothing else from the first encounter in Iraq, let us at least remember to make a plan before we go in—preferably a plan that considers the millennium-old forces of sectarianism that define so much of Middle Eastern politics.