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

May 24, 2017
Paul Street
Beyond Neoliberal Identity Politics
Daniel Read
Powder Keg: Manchester Terror Attack Could Lead to Yet Another Resurgence in Nationalist Hate
Robert Fisk
When Peace is a Commodity: Trump in the Middle East
Kenneth Surin
The UK’s Epochal Election
Jeff Berg
Lessons From a Modern Greek Tragedy
Steve Cooper
A Concrete Agenda for Progressives
Michael McKinley
Australia-as-Concierge: the Need for a Change of Occupation
William Hawes
Where Are Your Minds? An Open Letter to Thomas de Maiziere and the CDU
Steve Early
“Corporate Free” Candidates Move Up
Fariborz Saremi
Presidential Elections in Iran and the Outcomes
Dan Bacher
The Dark Heart of California’s Water Politics
Alessandra Bajec
Never Ending Injustice for Pinar Selek
Rob Seimetz
Death By Demigod
Jesse Jackson
Venezuela Needs Helping Hand, Not a Hammer Blow 
Binoy Kampmark
Return to Realpolitik: Trump in Saudi Arabia
Vern Loomis
The NRA: the Dragon in Our Midst
May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
L. Ali Khan
I’m a Human and I’m a Cartoon
May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail