FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why the US Can’t Repair Iraq

by

Contrary to popular belief, there is no satisfaction in being able to say, “I told you so.” This is especially so with Iraq, where recent events are enough to sicken one’s stomach. Yet it still must be said: those who opposed the George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq in March 2003 — not to mention his father’s war on Iraq in 1991 and the sanctions enforced through the administration of Bill Clinton — were right.

The noninterventionists predicted a violent unraveling of the country, and that’s what we’re witnessing. They agreed with Amr Moussa, chairman of the Arab League, who warned in September 2002 that the invasion would “open the gates of hell.” There was no ISIS or al-Qaeda in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq before the U.S. invasion.

Once again, the establishment news media have ill-served the American public. In the buildup to the 2003 bipartisan war on Iraq — which was justified through lies about weapons of mass destruction and complicity in the 9/11 attacks — little time and ink were devoted to the principled opponents of intervention.

Maybe war builds circulation, ratings, and advertising revenues. Or maybe corporate news outlets fear losing access to high-ranking government officials. Whatever the explanation, far more media resources went toward hyping the illegal aggressive war than to the case against it.

No one can grasp the complexity of one’s own society, we noninterventionists said, much less a society with Iraq’s unique religious, sectarian, and political culture and history. Intervention grows out of hubris. Nonintervention accepts the limits of any ruling cadre’s knowledge. The war planners had no clue how to reform Iraqi society. But there was one thing they did know: they would not suffer the consequences of their arrogance.

You’d think that with the noninterventionists proven right, the media would learn from their folly and turn to them to analyze the current turmoil in Iraq. But you’d be mistaken.

With few exceptions, the go-to “authorities” are the same people who got it wrong — not all of them neoconservatives, because interventionists come in different stripes. The discussion today is almost exclusively over how the Obama administration should intervene in Iraq, not if it should intervene. Even Paul Wolfowitz, one of the wizards of the original invasion, gets face time on major networks. He was part of the crowd which said that American invaders would be greeted with rose petals, that regime change in Iraq would spread liberal democracy throughout the Middle East, and that even peace between the Israelis and Palestinians would take place.

These “authorities” were wrong about everything — assuming they believed their own words — but that seems not to matter.

They have their own story, of course. It’s not the 2003 invasion that has brought Iraq to disintegration, they say. It is Barack Obama’s failure to leave U.S. troops in Iraq after 2011. This argument doesn’t work.

First, Obama (wrongly) asked Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to allow troops to remain beyond the deadline negotiated by Bush, but al-Maliki insisted that U.S. personnel who commit crimes be subject to Iraqi law, a reasonable demand. Obama would not accept that.

Second, why should we believe the advocates of the original invasion when they say a residual U.S. force could have prevented the offensive now conducted by ISIS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Levant)? It’s far more likely that if American troops were in Iraq today, they would be killing and dying.

Al-Maliki is everyone’s favorite scapegoat now, and the ruler known as the Shi’ite Saddam certainly is a villain. He has arrested respected Sunni figures and ordered troops to shoot peaceful Sunni demonstrators. But recriminations against the Sunnis, who were identified with Saddam’s secular Ba’athist party, started with the American administration of Iraq.

U.S. intervention now would be perceived as taking the Shi’ite side in the Iraqi sectarian war. (Obama is intervening, though on the opposite side, in Syria, which helped build ISIS.) The conflict is complicated — not all Sunnis and Shiites want sectarian violence — but that’s all the more reason to think that neither American troops nor diplomats can repair Iraq. The people themselves will have to work things out. As for terrorism, it is U.S. intervention that makes Americans targets.

Sheldon Richman is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va. (www.fff.org).

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

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail