FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Life’s Little Ironies

by NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN

“Veterans feel sting of Ramadi and Fallujah losses”, runs the USA Today headline.  “The images of Al Qaeda militants surging back into cities that were secured at an enormous sacrifice has chilled Americans who fought in Iraq”, the story reads.  For one of the veterans, “seeing the images of Al Qaeda flags flying over buildings in Fallujah and Ramadi in recent days has been devastating”.

This particular ‘surge’ in Al Qaeda’s Iraqi fortunes has been facilitated by the turmoil in Syria, with which Iraq shares a long and largely uncontrolled border. NPR had a report yesterday on how Al Qaeda in Syria has proven to be too much even for the Syrian rebels, though neither would yield anything to the other in the matter of its ostensible enthusiasm for getting rid of the common enemy, the government of Bashar al Assad.  According to National Public Radio, eastern Syria and western Iraq are now a kind of Al Qaeda administered territory.

A few longitudes to the west of Iraq and Syria lies Libya, another country where there was no trace of Al Qaeda a decade ago, now reportedly home to a thriving Osama franchise.

How did things come to such a pass? In each case, the violent overthrow or weakening of the country’s leadership created a big chaos which helped Al Qaeda establish a foothold it was unable to gain earlier.  In each case, the United States took a large interest in engineering the ouster of the existing regime.  In Iraq it did so by a direct, massive, invasion.  The experience that followed induced a growing degree of skittishness within the United States, although the old maxim, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is still a far cry from informing American policy.  Thus in Libya some eight years later, America contented itself with arming the rebels and supplying Britain and France with aircraft and missiles to dismantle the Libyan regime.  The ensuing mayhem still consumed the life of the American ambassador among thousands of others, splashing a further jug full of cold reality on a blithe American establishment steadfast in its refusal to learn.

Fast-forward a couple of years to Syria, where a simmering political unrest surfaced last year.  Once again the niranjangandhiAmerican impulse was to intervene militarily to help the opposition.  Popular opinion was virulent against any such idea, and prevailed over the establishment.  Still, enough was done via scarcely concealed arms supply and military training to the rebels in that country as to destabilize the government and dislodge its authority over large portions of the land.  Once more, a raging civil war has meant an excellent opportunity for Al Qaeda to establish itself in a new place.

In all three countries, the rulers against whom the United States pitted itself were native strongmen with one thing in common:  whatever their other proclivities, they were broadly secular; not even their severest critics could accuse them of being partial to Islamic militancy, least of harboring a soft corner for Al Qaeda.  Ergo, the way to winning the “War on Terror” made it imperative for America to topple all three!  Even Jude would have found the logic somewhat obscure.

Al Qaeda is America’s Enemy Number One, every American president since Clinton has declared over and over. After trillions of dollars in debts, hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of human beings displaced, and millions more suffering from war caused disease, Al Qaeda’s flag now flutters over Fallujah.

Just one more of life’s little ironies.

On April 4, 2014, it will be 10 years since Army Specialist Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq. His mother, Cindy Sheehan, used to go across the country repeating the famous question she wished to ask President George W. Bush, “Mr. President, for what noble cause did my son die?” A hardy soul from West Texas (often pronounced Wessexes), untrammeled by doubt or guilt, Bush slithered away, far from the madding crowds and into the world of book deals and speaking fees, without ever gathering up the gumption to face Cindy Sheehan.

Neither, for that matter, did his successor, who was given the Nobel Peace Prize shortly after he entered into his office.  But I fear I’m droning on.

Author’s Note: As the reader might know, “Life’s Little Ironies” is the title of a book of short stories by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928).  The setting, as with all Hardy’s books, is the countryside of an imaginary region in Southwest England called Wessex.  The tales are about ordinary men and women whose best laid plans come to unexpected, often opposite, ends.  

Niranjan Ramakrishnan is a writer living on the West Coast.  His book, “Reading Gandhi In the Twenty-First Century” was published last year by Palgrave.  He may be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.

/>Niranjan Ramakrishnan is a writer living on the West Coast.  His book, “Reading Gandhi In the Twenty-First Century” was published last year by Palgrave.  He may be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail