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.

May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s Slurs Against China
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail