Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
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:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]