Monday, June 23, 2014


President Obama speaks to troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2011. (photo: Gerry Broome/AP)

Bombing Iraq: Fool Us Twice, Shame On Us!

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News
22 June 14

hy is Iraq’s civil war in the national security interests of the United States?” CNN’s Jim Acostaasked President Barack Obama last Thursday. Obama had to know the question was coming, and his fulsome response provides all the warning the world needs. Whatever his self-proclaimed reluctance to use military force, he is embarking on a disastrous and deadly imperial adventure that is doomed to fail. The only serious question is whether the rest of us can stop him.
In answering Acosta’s question, Obama started with a profound truth that ended up sounding too practiced and pro-forma. “We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq,” he said. “Ultimately, this is something that is going to have to be solved by the Iraqis.”
He then went on to list US national security interests in a way that gives him carte blanche to step all over the Iraqis – and Syrians – in any way he and his advisors want. Our interests are nothing less than to prevent “an all-out civil war inside of Iraq,” he said. This was “not just for humanitarian reasons,” but to promote regional stability, keep our allies strong, and protect “global energy markets.”
“Interests” so broadly defined would justify the United States doing almost anything, anywhere, even to the point of vastly escalating that “all-out civil war inside of Iraq” and expanding it throughout the Middle East and Persian Gulf. But the president was just warming up. He then added the old caliphate and “safe haven” arguments that in many ways rival George W. Bush’s earlier fear-mongering about Saddam Hussein’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” Obama uses the abbreviation ISIL – the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – to describe the same group that others call ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“We also have an interest in making sure that we don’t have a safe haven that continues to grow for ISIL and other extremist jihadist groups who could use that as a base of operations for planning and targeting ourselves, our personnel overseas, and eventually the homeland,” he warned. “And if they accumulate more money, they accumulate more ammunition, more military capability, larger numbers, that poses great dangers not just to allies of ours like Jordan, which is very close by, but it also poses a great danger potentially to Europe and ultimately the United States.”
Obama should be ashamed of himself, and if we let him fool us with his fear-mongering, we have no one to blame but ourselves. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
ISIL are clearly a bad bunch, so extreme that even the remnants of Al Qaeda have broken with them. But no credible expert thinks they have more a few thousand fighters, and most of the current Sunni uprising comes from the same people with whom General David Petraeus once cooperated in the Anbar Awakening. The only way ISIL will create their long-proclaimed caliphate and become a major threat is if American drones, rockets, and bombers enter the fray and make the Sunni extremists a regional champion against Western imperialism.
U.S. intervention will similarly escalate the domestic Iraqi conflict between the Shia majority and the minority Sunnis, who have every right to be rising up against the government of Nouri al Maliki, the prime minister the Americans hand-picked and then left behind. No one in Iraq needs Obama to tell them that al Maliki has made a mess of things.
The Mehdi militia loyal to Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al Sadr has just staged a massive march in Baghdad, opposing al Maliki’s request for American help. “If the Americans are thinking about coming back here, all of we Iraqis will become time bombs – we will eat them alive,” one of the group told the Telegraph. “We can deal with ISIS ourselves.”
And, as Patrick Cockburn reports in the Independent, “the spiritual leader of the Iraqi Shia, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, was calling for a new and ‘effective’ government that avoided the mistakes of the old. Nobody in Baghdad has any doubts that he wants the Prime Minister gone.”
The only question is whether a new government can or will unify the country, or whether the Shia will opt for a full-scale civil war, which would no doubt bring in major Iranian intervention along with Sunni fighters from everywhere and money from the Gulf and Saudi Arabia. These are all perils the Iraqis should avoid, but as Americans, we have already proved how inept we are at running their country. Isn’t it about time that we learn to let the Iraqis solve their own problems their own way?