WASHINGTON – Is Iraq already lost?
"Yes," was the simple but stunning answer, uttered softly and ruefully by former U.S. Army Gen. Jerry Boykin.
The general sees the writing on the wall after an army of Islamic terrorists broke out of Syria and raced across Iraq with little resistance in the last week, decimating the nation's military, capturing key cities including Mosul, the second-largest city in the country, and reportedly staging mass executions of Iraqi soldiers.
Boykin told WND there are no good options left for the U.S. in Iraq, and the worst thing the nation could do would be to work with the Iranians, as the Obama administration has said it will consider.
The general noted the Iranians were responsible for the deaths of an "untold number of Americans" during the Iraq war because of the improved explosives they provided insurgents.
Boykin would support airstrikes and drone strikes to save the lives of Iraqis because, "We're seeing a bloodbath in there now," but he would not support attacks to save the Iraqi government.
He would not favor any intervention merely to help Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, especially because the Iranians have been so actively supporting him and opposing American interests there.
The best thing the U.S. could do right now, said the general, is to pressure the sponsors of the Sunni jihadis, particularly the Saudis, and warn them that if the bloodshed continues there will be "real consequences, not the red-line consequences Obama talked about in Syria, but real consequences."
The jihadi forces that swept out of Syria now control hundreds of square miles after Iraqi troops, who outnumbered the terrorists, reportedly threw down their weapons, tore off their uniforms and ran at the sight of the zealous enemy.
The terrorist army now appears to be regrouping before making an assault on the capital of Baghdad.
Boykin does not think they will take Baghdad right away, but he suspects they will move right up to the outskirts.
"This is a bloodlust," he said, ominously.
The terrorist soldiers belong to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which is considered so extreme and bloodthirsty, even al-Qaida disassociated itself with the group in February.
ISIS' leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was released from U.S. detention at Camp Bucca in Iraq in 2009.
No one in the Obama administration or the U.S. military has explained why the brutal Baghdadi, who was an al-Qaida leader at the time, was set free.
Making matters worse, WND is reporting dozens of ISIS soldiers were trained by in 2012 by U.S. instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials.
The officials said the ISIS members were trained as part of covert aid to the rebels targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Boykin agreed with critics who say Obama left Iraq vulnerable by not reaching a status-of-forces agreement with the government before withdrawing U.S. troops. American forces remained on peace-keeping missions in South Korea, Europe and Japan after previous wars and still maintain a strong presence in those locations today.
He said the Obama administration was in too much of a rush to get out of Iraq, and leaving some troops would have helped ensure that sectarian violence did not spin out of control.
"This was predictable, not a matter of having missed it, because many of us said it was coming," observed Boykin, adding, "It will get a whole lot worse before it gets better – if it ever gets any better."
That's when WND asked, off camera, if Iraq was already lost and Boykin replied, "Yes." Asked if that response could be published, he said, "Go ahead."
Boykin said he agreed with an article, which he called "significant," written by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, that it was not a mistake to invade Iraq, because, otherwise, the current situation would have been even worse.
The general said he was very skeptical about the invasion before it began, "But once we did, and I saw how bad the situation was, and what a monster Saddam Hussein was and what he as doing to his own people, my attitude changed and I believe we were doing the right thing by freeing them of a dictator."
But, Boykin said, the U.S. then made serious mistakes, primarily, letting them write an Islamic constitution.
"You cannot have a coexistence between democracy and an Islamic republic. The whole notion of democracy in an Islamic republic is specious."
Did he think, in retrospect, trying to bring democracy to the Middle East was a mistake?
Yes, he said, "unless, you are absolutely confident you can move them away from (the strict Islamic law of ) Shariah."
He cited the implementation of Shariah by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, before that government was overthrown.
"There's no democracy when you have Shariah."
Follow Garth Kant on Twitter @DCgarth