The Disasters that U.S. Intervention Created

by SHELDON RICHMAN

Americans have forgotten about the Iraq war, which began 10 years ago this week, and the Afghan war, the longest in American history, but the U.S. government is still throwing its weight around in both countries.

The Iraq war, the pretext for which was nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, officially ended in 2011 with the withdrawal of virtually all of America’s combat troops. But the havoc wreaked by the U.S. invasion and regime change goes on. Over a hundred thousand Iraqis were killed in the war itself, but many more died in the aftermath from sectarian violence and the obliterated infrastructure. (Iraq had never recovered from the destruction inflicted by the U.S. government in the 1991 Gulf War and in the decade of sanctions related to it.) Millions fled their homes.

The U.S. occupation unleashed bitter sectarian violence, complete with U.S.-trained death squads, leading the numerically dominant Shiite Muslims (who are friendly to Iran) to cleanse the Sunnis from Baghdad. A Sunni insurgency against the occupation inflicted heavy casualties until American money managed to have the guns turned on the al-Qaeda affiliate, which was not in Iraq before the U.S. invasion.

On the American side, the deaths approached 4,500, with tens of thousands shattered in body and spirit. For the U.S. taxpayer, the price is over a trillion dollars, with billions lost to sheer corruption in the so-called rebuilding.

The enormity of the crime committed by the Bush administration, with the complicity of cheerleading politicians (Republican and Democrat), journalists, and foreign-policy “experts” cannot be adequately calculated — and the consequences are not all in.

The country is now ruled by a corrupt, authoritarian, and brutal government. The infrastructure is a mess, with water, sanitation, and electricity unreliable. Most significant, the violence continues. Car bombings are common, and the al-Qaeda affiliate is active again — so active that the CIA is “ramping up support to elite Iraqi antiterrorism units,” the Wall Street Journal reports. (And you thought the American war was over!) The irony is that these al-Qaeda fighters have been on the American side in the efforts to overthrow Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

If the Iraqi catastrophe isn’t enough to destroy one’s confidence in big government, what would it take?

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, 300 residents of Wardak province recently held a demonstration demanding that the U.S. government remove its special-operations forces from the province because of the violence they are believed to be supporting.

Last month Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, gave the Americans until March 10 to leave the province, but so far they have not left and Karzai is willing to compromise. The order came after complaints about raids by U.S.-trained Afghan squads that led to the disappearance of Wardak residents. Nine men disappeared after one such nighttime raid. Murder and torture have also been alleged.

The New York Times reports that “the influential Ulema Council … issued a threatening statement,” which said, “If the Americans once again do not honor their commitments and keep on disobeying, then this will be considered as an occupation, and they may expect to see a reaction to their action.” The Times added that the statement “referred to American forces in Afghanistan as ‘infidels,’ echoing language used by the Taliban.”

The U.S. command denies the allegations, and an investigation is underway. It should be noted, however, that the U.S. military trained and supported similarly brutal militias (“death squads”) in Iraq, just as it did in Latin America in the 1980s.

Whatever the investigation reveals, the controversy demonstrates the perils of invasion and occupation. People resent foreign forces on their soil, and the Afghans are no exception. They have driven out foreigners many times in the past, most recently the powerful Soviet Union.

U.S. officials say the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were key to national security after 9/11. Even Barack Obama, who built a presidential campaign on opposing the Iraq war, claims it did much good after all.

Nonsense.

The 9/11 attacks were criminal acts intended as reprisals for American-sponsored oppression in the Middle East. The U.S. response has not made America safer — it has created new enemies. What did you expect of the corrupt, power-hungry incompetents who call themselves American “public servants”?

Next on the agenda: Iran.

Sheldon Richman is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) in Fairfax, Va.

 

Sheldon Richman keeps the blog “Free Association” and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire
Halyna Mokrushyna
Decentralization Reform in Ukraine
Norman Pollack
World Capitalism, a Basket Case: A Layman’s View
Sarah Lazare
Listening to Iraq
John Laforge
NSP/Xcel Energy Falsified Welding Test Documents on Rad Waste Casks
Wendell G Bradley
Drilling for Wattenberg Oil is Not Profitable
Joy First
Wisconsin Walk for Peace and Justice: Nine Arrested at Volk Field
Mel Gurtov
China’s Insecurity
Mateo Pimentel
An Operator’s Guide to Trump’s Racism
Yves Engler
Harper Conservatives and Abuse of Power
Michael Dickinson
Police Guns of Brixton: Another Unarmed Black Shot by London Cops
Ron Jacobs
Daydream Sunset: a Playlist
Charles R. Larson
The Beginning of the Poppy Wars: Amitav Ghosh’s “Flood of Fire”
David Yearsley
A Rising Star Over a Dark Forest
August 27, 2015
Sam Husseini
Foreign Policy, Sanders-Style: Backing Saudi Intervention
Brad Evans – Henry A. Giroux
Self-Plagiarism and the Politics of Character Assassination: the Case of Zygmunt Bauman