Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

America is complicit in ISIS’s rise. But that doesn’t mean we should bomb Iraq.

Posted on September 11, 2014 at 10.38 am

In a perfect libertarian world, the 2003 invasion of Iraq would never have happened; ISIS probably wouldn’t exist; and if it did exist, there would be no suggestion that we’re obligated to go on yet another war. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world—but I still don’t think more war is necessary or helpful.

Given the ongoing and inevitable fact that Washington is/will continue to be involved in trying to “fix” this mess, I’d rather food and medicine be the fix. Do I want government doing charity? No, of course not. But if we must act in Iraq, let’s at least try something that doesn’t kill people and make them hate us. (Emergency relief aid—not nation-building—would likely also be a heck of a lot cheaper.)

The extremist-fueled sectarian conflicts in Iraq and Syria are, by all accounts, unspeakably awful. ISIS has reportedly crucified peopleburied women and children alive, decimated historic Christian communities, and even beheaded children.

And so here in the States, the clamor for President Obama to do something seems to grow louder by the day. That’s largely why President Obama unveiled a potentially multi-year plan of air strikes in a nationally televised address on Wednesday. Even those who tend to oppose military intervention, like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, have argued that fighting ISIS is somehow different — that the president must take decisive action — that this, finally, is “the right war.”

In many less-hawkish circles, much of the desire to dosomething is motivated by the role U.S. foreign policy played in creating a climate in which ISIS can thrive. As Paul argued, “Our recent foreign policy has allowed radical jihadists to proliferate.” He’s right. The last decade of meandering, ill-justified war in Iraq in particular has made America complicit in ISIS’s rise. There would be no ISIS had America not invaded Iraq in 2003.

And while I appreciate Paul’s provision of a more measured response than has been supplied by the likes of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), I can’t follow him in his call for more war. Dropping bombs and trillions of dollars into a situation we clearly don’t understand and can’t control hasn’t worked yet, and it’s naïve to believe it will start working now. In the words of the Decider of the 2003 invasion, “Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — can’t get fooled again.”

Likewise, the refrain that ISIS, like past Middle Eastern monsters, is an existential threat to American security fails to convince. As Bruce Fein has ably demonstrated, it is laughable to suggest that ISIS could successfully make war on American territory — and it is equally ridiculous to listen to those very fearmongers who claim otherwise as they attempt to make further war inevitable.

Yet I, too, can’t shake the feeling of responsibility. Now, I never supported war in Iraq in any sense more meaningful than a 15-year-old’s ingenuous assumption that the president wouldn’t screw up so important an issue. Today, I (and a majority of Americans) deem the Iraq war a failure. But the long-term impact of American intervention can’t be negated by ignoring it or wishing it away.

So what can America to do help? And by help, I mean actually help, in a very literal sense of the word, not deploying drones for democracy or some such nonsense. What if, instead of sending bombs and weapons, we only sent relief aid: food, medicine, and evacuation opportunities? Indeed, continued humanitarian aid is a part of Obama’s strategy. But it should be the only part.

Read the whole thing here.

Going “abroad in search of monsters to destroy” is making more monsters

Posted on August 11, 2014 at 10.26 am

America is constantly abroad, constantly seeking monsters to destroy—monsters which, like the hydra of mythology or Marvel, only seem to multiply as we launch war after endless war.

As much as we may want to say, “America is coming to help,” it’s never that clear-cut, and innocent civilians too often pay the price.

As ISIS commits atrocity after atrocity, it is easy to wonder if this tragedy might have been prevented had the 2003 invasion of Iraq never occurred—if we’d listen to the wisdom of Founding Fathers like Adams…and Washington, and Franklin, and Jefferson, and Madison, and more.

Adams’ explanation of the dangers of foreign intervention is now writ large in the violence in Iraq and the suppression of civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism here at home:

[America] well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself, beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.

The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. The frontlet upon her brows would no longer beam with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence; but in its stead would soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished lustre the murky radiance of dominion and power.

She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.

For more than a decade, bipartisan U.S. foreign policy has been marked by fighting for causes that are not our own—and mired “beyond the power of extrication” in the inevitable mess which ensues.

The basic posture of our government toward our citizens has changed from liberty to force, as anyone with knowledge of the National Security Agency alone well knows.

And rather than standing as a beacon of hope and liberty for the world, American foreign policy has too often become one of failed and bloody micromanagement, a bull in the china shop that is the Middle East.

I don’t know how to “fix” Iraq. But I do know that what we’re doing—what we’ve been doing for more than decade now—isn’t working.

Maybe we could start over with the advice of John Quincy Adams, and once again make our motto “Freedom, Independence, Peace.”

Read the whole thing here.

3 out of 4 of Americans oppose re-invading Iraq because it is a really stupid idea

Posted on June 23, 2014 at 11.39 am

This week’s article is about the bipartisan push for a re-invasion of Iraq:

In the last two weeks, a terrorist group too radical even for Al-Qaeda to support, the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL), has swept through the Iraq, taking city after city en route to Baghdad.

This new round of chaos has been a dog whistle to the always eager interventionists. Suddenly, hawks like Dick Cheney, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham are booking interviews like it’s 2003, and they all have the same message: America has to go to war again to fix this mess.

Meanwhile, though President Obama initially said there would be “no boots on the ground,” he’s backtracked on that promise in record time. Servicemen are already on their way to Iraq, and drone strikes (which are a terrible option) have been suggested as well. (To his credit, Obama is at least speaking in more cautious terms than his neoconservative counterparts, though it remains to be seen if his actions will be similarly restrained.)

Obama, Cheney, and pals may be ginning up a new push for war, but most Americans have very different ideas. A recent poll shows that a whopping 74% of Americans oppose sending combat troops to Iraq, and a mere 16% are for it.

This is consistent with poll after poll in the last few years that show Americans are overwhelmingly sick of war and tired of our government’s refusal to mind its own business abroad. This desire for peace spans partisan lines, and it definitely includes rejecting of re-invasion of Iraq.

So why the huge difference between what most Americans want and what Washington is trying to force on us? Well, it’s simple: Most Americans are willing to admit how awful U.S. foreign policy has been for the last decade plus and the Washington establishment is not.

The same poll which showed that 3/4 of Americans don’t want more war in Iraq also found that “more than two-thirds say the renewed violence in Iraq is a result of a centuries-old conflict that was worsened by the 2003 invasion launched by President George W. Bush.”

In other words, the people who opposed invasion the first time around were right—and people like Cheney and, now, Obama who want to continue and expand our involvement, have been proven wrong.

As Ron Paul put it, it doesn’t make any sense to listen to the people who got Iraq and America into this mess to begin with: “They cannot admit they were wrong about the invasion being a ‘cakewalk’ that would pay for itself,” and their foreign policy advice isn’t exactly credible anymore.

That’s not to suggest that Saddam Hussein was a good guy, or that Iraq would be a paradise today if the Iraq War had never been started by President Bush and continued by Obama. But it is to point out that al-Qaeda, which spawned this chaos-wreaking ISIL group, did not exist in Iraq before the 2003 invasion. The war our government started under glaringly false pretenses literally created a multitude of new terrorists, and it is that intervention which is a direct cause of Iraq’s current disaster.

Read the whole thing here.