FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama Marks Iraq War Anniversary with War Summit in Israel

by BEN SCHREINER

A decade after the American-led invasion of Iraq, the U.S. is once again preparing to set the Middle East ablaze.  In fact, President Obama will touch down in Tel Aviv ten years to the day “shock and awe” was first unleashed for what appears to be little more than a war summit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to the Guardian, Netanyahu plans on using the president’s trip “to try to persuade the US to carry out air strikes on Syria if there is evidence that Syrian missiles are to be handed over to Hezbollah in Lebanon, or at least to give full support to Israeli military action to prevent the transfer.”  Tel Aviv, the paper adds, wants U.S. support for more preemptive Israeli strikes “even if they risk provoking a cross-border conflict with Hezbollah.”

Back in the U.S., meanwhile, similar domestic pressure continues to build for an escalated level of U.S. intervention into the Syrian conflict.

On Monday, New York Representative Eliot Engel, a fierce Israel supporter, introduced a bill calling on the Obama administration to directly arm and train the Syrian opposition.  Of course, the U.S. is already training Syrian rebels in Jordan, and is providing at least tacit approval of arms shipments.

Additional reports, however, have also revealed that the U.S. has begun collecting intelligence for future drone strikes against Islamic extremists fighting inside Syria.  Moreover, the CIA is reportedly stepping up its aid to Iraqi counter-terrorism forces fighting the spillover of Islamic extremists from Syria.  As Robert Dreyfuss commented, this dual policy of both aiding and targeting the Syrian opposition appears rather bizarre.

“[A]s the United States ramps up its aid to Syria’s rag-tag rebels, whose backbone is comprised of radical Islamists and Sunni fundamentalists, some with ties to Al Qaeda,” Dreyfuss writes, “the CIA is busily engaged in combat inside Iraq with the very same radical Islamists and Sunni fundamentalists, some with ties to Al Qaeda.”

Such a strategy is only truly bizarre, though, if one assumes the Obama administration is actually seeking a resolution to the Syrian conflict.  It is only bizarre if one ignores the possibility that working to stoke the war may just in fact be Washington’s strategy.  After all, short of installing a client regime in Damascus, the destruction of Syria as a sovereign state and significant player in regional politics is the next best hope for the U.S.  And this goes for Israel, as well.  In fact, the weakening of the Syrian army by the prolonged conflict has already come to be cheered in Tel Aviv.

But the U.S.-Israel war summit won’t be limited to Syria; for in the end, what’s a war summit without Iran?

Indeed, as the Guardian reports, “Obama will also come under Israeli pressure to lower the US threshold for military action against Iran.”  A process the U.S. Senate, with the help of the pro-Israel lobby, has already begun.

Undoubtedly anticipating such pressure, Obama sought last week to appease the war hawks by effectively providing a deadline for attacking Iran.

Speaking to Israeli media on Thursday, Obama stated that, “Right now, we think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon.”  A rather dubious claim, given that a mere week prior saw the U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper reaffirm that “we do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”

The president’s suspect time frame, as Kaveh Afrasiabi notes, is also “a potentially dangerous gambit,” seemingly aimed at furthering the current stalemate between the U.S. and Iran at the very time nuclear negations appear to be progressing.  Of course, such a gambit also serves to make war all the more likely.  As Afrasiabi writes, “That is a distinct possibility that Obama, who is at present playing brinksmanship with Iran, should be wary of.  All he needs to do is to remind himself of the precious lessons of the US$2 trillion Iraq war.”

But the limits of American power evidenced in the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan are lost on a president who has overseen the expansion the U.S. drone war from the Swat Valley of Pakistan to the Gulf of Aden and the African Sahel.  The man who rode his measured opposition to the Iraq war to the Democratic nomination in 2008 has simply never shown any real aversion to war while serving in the Oval Office.  As the president prefers to incessantly intone, “all options are on the table.

It’s thus little wonder to learn that according to “senior American and Israel officials” cited by the Israeli daily Haaretz, “Obama is undergoing a maturation process regarding the possibility that diplomatic efforts aimed at Iran could fail, and he might have to order a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.”  The “U.S. military brass is undergoing a similar process,” the paper adds.

Of course, the Western measure on which diplomacy with Iran is ultimately judged to be a success or not is limited to whether Tehran is brought to its knees.  Such a warped view of diplomacy, needless to say, invariably leads to war.

It’s clear, then, that the American defeat in Iraq has done little to deter U.S. imperial dreams in the Middle East.  For on a grim anniversary which should have sent the U.S. president on a conciliatory visit to Baghdad with reparations for the Iraqi people, instead sees the president off to Israel to confer with Tel Aviv on the next American war in the Middle East.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his website.

More articles by:

Ben Schreiner is the author of A People’s Dictionary to the ‘Exceptional Nation’.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his blog.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Stephen Cooper
Gov. Kasich: “Amazing Grace” Starts With You! 
Jeffrey Wilson
Demolish! The Story of One Detroit Resident’s Home
REZA FIYOUZAT
Billionaire In Panic Over Dems’ Self-Destruct
David Penner
The Barbarism of Privatized Health Care
Yves Engler
Canada in Zambia
Ludwig Watzal
What Israel is Really All About
Randy Shields
Matters of National Insecurity
Vacy Vlanza
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Through Eyes of an Activist for Palestine
Cesar Chelala
Dr. Schweitzer’s Lost Message
Masturah Alatas
Becoming Italian
Martin Billheimer
Lessons Paid in Full
Charles R. Larson
Review: James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model”
David Yearsley
The Brilliance of Velasquez
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail