The battle to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS has begun and while the outcome is uncertain what can't be disputed is that it is being fought by the right people.
Iraqi forces are engaged in the most ambitious offensive since they were formed in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion in 2003. Rival Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis are united in the effort to dislodge ISIS terrorists from the largest city they hold. It was in Mosul that the Islamic State's leader declared a caliphate two years ago.
While the United States leads the coalition its role is primarily in providing air support. That is as it should be, as American troops can no longer die on Middle Eastern turf where they are not welcome. President Obama has established that as policy, and while right wing doom-and-gloomers would play into the hands of ISIS by escalating U.S. involvement, the administration's approach has born fruit. ISIS has been chased out of three other Iraqi cities and it is Iraqi government forces that have led the way on the ground.
This marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history. President Obama has de-escalated the war to the point that it is almost forgotten by Americans, but he won't end it before he leaves office. A war that lost its purpose after the administration caught up with Osama bin Laden lingers on, and it may cost $5 trillion before it is over. Roughly 2,200 American servicemen and women have been killed there.
However, the Obama White House, unlike its predecessor, has learned from past American foreign policy mistakes. Whatever the result of the siege of Mosul, it will not result in punishing losses of American blood and treasure.