Learning the lesson of Iraq (or not)

[Correction 4/8/2017: Sarin, as peteybee of Spread an Idea pointed out, is a liquid, not a gas.]

Back in 2003, I thought the U.S. invasion of Iraq might be a good idea.

I thought we Americans could atone for all the suffering we had caused the Iraqi people by the low-level war by the Clinton administration by overthrowing the evil tyrant Saddam—and, yes, he really was evil and a tyrant—and allowing the Iraqis to choose their own government.

The United States would then, so I thought, have a democratic ally in the Middle East whose people were genuinely pro-American, and would free ourselves from dependence on the Saudi monarchy.

The U.S. invasion made things worse, both from the standpoint of the Iraqi people and of us Americans.   Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed, hundreds of thousands became refugees.

Maybe there would have been a different result if the U.S. occupation authorities’ priorities had not been to get control of Iraqi oil and create money-making opportunities for American contractors.

We have to recognize that policy is going to be carried out by the government we’ve got, not the government we wish we had.

I think an invasion of Syria would have the same bad result as the invasion of Iraq.

I think a stepped-up bombing campaign in Syria would increase the suffering of the Syrian people, but would not punish the individuals responsible for the gas attacks—if such attacks occurred.

The U.S. government has three options in Syria:

(1)  Fight the so-called Islamic State, the successors of Al Qaeda and other terrorists, which is in the interest of the government of Syria.

(2)  Try to overthrow the government of Syria, which is in the interest of ISIS, Al Qaeda and the other terrorists.

(3)  Stay out of the conflict or try to act as a peacemaker.

The reason for attacking Syria is to strengthen the geopolitical position of Israel and Saudi Arabia and to weaken the position of Iran and Russia.

This goes back to bargains made with the Saudis by Henry Kissinger during the Ford administration, which were described in Greg Grandin’s Kissinger’s Shadow.

The deal was that the Saudis would keep the price of oil level, deposit their oil profits in U.S. banks and buy a lot of U.S.-made military equipment in return for U.S. protection and support.

I was brought up to think of us Americans as the good guys in any conflict, and that crimes and atrocities were aberrations – “not who we are.”

Over the years, especially during the past 15 years, I have come to see that this is an illusion and, even if the government were run by good guys, there are situations in which there are no good choices.


Why More Regime Change? by Charles V. Pena for The American Conservative.

This Isn’t the Foreign Policy Trump Campaigned On by Robert W. Merry for The American Conservative.

Trump’s War Whoop: a Gulf of Tonkin Moment? by Mike Whitney for Counterpunch.

Illustrations via Ted Rall; Toledo Blade.

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5 Responses to “Learning the lesson of Iraq (or not)”

  1. violetwisp Says:

    It’s disturbing how often our governments, our media, and the general public conveniently forget the lessons of military intervention. On some sick level, wars seem to suit nationalism and political interests, even when it’s certain the overall outcome will result in disaster.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 61chrissterry Says:

    Reblogged this on 61chrissterry and commented:
    In politics there are no good guys, for what may be good for one is not good for the other. In any situation the power base is prime and the victor wishes to have all the spoils, whether this be good for the population. In any of these conflicts the population of any of the areas are not the problem, but they are the ones that suffer. The victors take, take take, without a thought of the population and the desecration the conflicts have caused.

    It is in this respect that the victor is never victorious for no matter what the result you create enemies within the population, when the victor would expect friends.

    Just think of yourself in this situation who have lost a leadership which was all out for themselves to be replaced by a weaker but often similar leadership, if in fact there is any effective leadership as all fractions will take what they can.

    Would it have been best to not become involved in the first place for at least most, if not all would know were they are.

    There are no good guys.


  3. whungerford Says:

    We desperately need a foreign policy and people in government capable of implementing it.


  4. Vincent Says:

    This has been declared by America as a one-off gesture against a military target for a specific purpose of defence against war crimes and broken undertakings. Why not give your elected government some credit until proved otherwise? No commitment to invade Syria has been expressed. We who aren’t experts should start by supporting those we have democratically elected, our intelligence services, our military and our diplomats otherwise our systems of democracy are worthless and a shame to the entire world.

    I’m English, but I want to be able to respect my American cousins, our allies.


    • Edward Says:

      1) This attack violates both domestic and international law.

      2) The accusation used to justify this attack doesn’t make sense. At a minimum there needs to be an investigation. Ever since the Syria war started several years ago we have had non-stop propaganda from the West.

      3) If the U.S. wants to help Syrians the best thing they can do is support efforts to negotiate an end to the war. By the way, it would also help to talk to all Syrians, not just the jihadis. And where is all this humanitarian concern when it comes to the U.S. food blockade against Yemen? Lifting that blockade would do some real good.


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