Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama Marks Iraq War Anniversary with War Summit in Israel

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.

May 23, 2018
Nick Pemberton
Maduro’s Win: A Bright Spot in Dark Times
Ben Debney
A Faustian Bargain with the Climate Crisis
Deepak Tripathi
A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh
Farhang Jahanpour
Pompeo’s Outrageous Speech on Iran
Josh White
Strange Recollections of Old Labour
CJ Hopkins
The Simulation of Democracy
Lawrence Davidson
In Our Age of State Crimes
Dave Lindorff
The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They’re Brilliant
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Domination of West Virginia
Ty Salandy
The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism
Laura Flanders
Life or Death to the FCC?
Gary Leupp
Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation?
Katalina Khoury
The Notion of Patriarchal White Supremacy Vs. Womanhood
Nicole Rosmarino
The Grassroots Environmental Activist of the Year: Christine Canaly
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
“Michael Inside:” The Prison System in Ireland 
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail