FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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, author of America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.  He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 25, 2017
Russell Mokhiber
It’s Impossible to Support Single-Payer and Defend Obamacare
Nozomi Hayase
Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech
Robert Fisk
The Madder Trump Gets, the More Seriously the World Takes Him
Giles Longley-Cook
Trump the Gardener
Bill Quigley
Major Challenges of New Orleans Charter Schools Exposed at NAACP Hearing
Jack Random
Little Fingers and Big Egos
Stanley L. Cohen
Dissent on the Lower East Side: the Post-Political Condition
Stephen Cooper
Conscientious Justice-Loving Alabamians, Speak Up!
Michael J. Sainato
Did the NRA Play a Role in the Forcing the Resignation of Surgeon General?
David Swanson
The F-35 and the Incinerating Ski Slope
Binoy Kampmark
Mike Pence in Oz
Peter Paul Catterall
Green Nationalism? How the Far Right Could Learn to Love the Environment
George Wuerthner
Range Riders: Making Tom Sawyer Proud
Clancy Sigal
It’s the Pits: the Miner’s Blues
Robert K. Tan
Abe is Taking Japan Back to the Bad Old Fascism
April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
Robert Hunziker
America’s Tale of Two Cities, Redux
David Jaffe
The Republican Party and the ‘Lunatic Right’
John Davis
No Tomorrow or Fashion-Forward
Patrick Cockburn
Treating Mental Health Patients as Criminals
Jack Dresser
An Accelerating Palestine Rights Movement Faces Uncertain Direction
George Wuerthner
Diet for a Warming Planet
Lawrence Wittner
Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?
Colin Todhunter
From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial
Paul Bentley
Teacher’s Out in Front
Franklin Lamb
A Post-Christian Middle East With or Without ISIS?
Kevin Martin
We Just Paid our Taxes — are They Making the U.S. and the World Safer?
Erik Mears
Education Reformers Lowered Teachers’ Salaries, While Promising to Raise Them
Binoy Kampmark
Fleeing the Ratpac: James Packer, Gambling and Hollywood
Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail