As more than a few anti-war voices have pointed out, U.S. government insanity is defined as repeating the same mistake over and over again while hoping for a different outcome each time.
President Obama appears set to start bombing Iraq -- again -- within hours of this message.
In so doing, he will be compounding the war crimes against Iraq committed by George W. Bush and Bill Clinton before him.
Whatever his rhetoric, Obama's real intent is not to save Iraqi lives, promote democracy, or any such noble-sounding purpose. After all, millions have died in the ongoing Congolese civil war without any U.S. threat to intervene. But when it comes to controlling Libyan or Iraqi oil, and other "strategic interests," military response is the U.S. government's first and only option.
Obama's real purpose is to restore U.S. "credibility," that is, to assert the notion that, despite the wishes of the inhabitants, the U.S. will dictate policy to smaller nations it deems valuable in rivalries with bigger powers like China and Russia. In the contemptuous words of George Bush, Sr. during the first U.S.-Iraq war, "What we say goes."
Here We Go Again
In his rush to prop up the flagrantly corrupt and sectarian Iraqi government, Obama's actions mirror the desperate measures U.S. presidents took more than a generation ago.
Presidents Richard "Peace with Honor" Nixon and his bumbling successor, Gerald Ford, attempted unsuccessfully to prop up the similarly venal and sectarian South Vietnamese government. The spectacularly rapid collapse of Iraq's Maliki government in the predominantly Sunni and Kurdish areas of Iraq, with soldiers abandoning their weapons and selling their uniforms in the face of far weaker opposition, echoed the popular bankruptcy of America's puppet government in Southeast Asia in the 1970s. Indeed, what's now happening in Iraq is precisely what inside-the-beltway theorists fear will befall their Afghan client regime in the next few years.
The Wall Street Journal has just reported that the Obama administration signaled that it was ready to cut lose Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
This is not due to any heart-felt conversion to democratic rule by popular consent. Obama happily backed the wildly unpopular dictatorship of Egypt's Hosni Mubarek... until it looked like he could hang on no more. Then he later happily backed the coup against that country's first elected leader in favor of a new military dictatorship, that of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The Root of U.S. Failure
That the brutal Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) could sweep through much of Iraq with such ease is testimony to how unpopular and unrepresentative the U.S.-backed government there is. That the brutal Taliban in Afghanistan could 13 years after the U.S. invasion still hold sway over large parts of the Afghan countryside shows how unpopular and unrepresentative the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan is.
The root of U.S. failure to determine the destinies of these nations lies exactly in this very desire to control other people's destinies.
Any government perceived by its citizens as propped up by and beholden to outside forces, especially the U.S., is delegitimized in the eyes of that citizenry. Suppression of the right to control one's own national destiny sparks opposition, including open revolt and terrorism. Why is this so hard for the U.S. government to understand?
Prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq. Half a decade later, it was hosting the largest al-Qaeda affiliate in the world. Today, the dominant radical force in Iraq, ISIS, is so brutal that even al-Qaeda disaffiliated from it.
Despite an estimated $6 trillion dollars cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, despite tens of thousands of U.S. casualties, and many times that of Iraqis and Afghans, Iraq "looks as fragile, bloody and pitiful as ever," said The Economist magazine.
In September 2001, anyone in the U.S. who pointed out that U.S. government actions in the Middle East had planted the seeds for al-Qaeda recruitment and the subsequent 9/11 attack, was shouted down. Anyone who pointed out that the half-century long U.S. project of controlling the region through coups, chosen despots and military "aid," was denounced as unpatriotic and denied access to the popular media.
Nonetheless, anti-war forces refused to be silenced and did not disappear, and they thus helped turn what began as an extremely popular war into a very unpopular one. In fact, the increasing unpopularity of both wars made it more and more difficult for Presidents Bush and Obama to pursue them.
But opposing wars that are against the interests of peoples abroad and most people in the U.S. is not enough. We must demand not only that the U.S. not bomb Iraq, but that U.S. military forces pull out of the region and allow the peoples of the region to determine their own destinies.
Until the people of the United States force our government to cease trying to control the lives and resources of other peoples in the world, our government will continue inflaming the violence that it claims to abhor. The U.S. bombing Iraq would only serve to pour gasoline on an already raging fire.
We must demand that the U.S. government refrain from bombing Iraq, and that U.S. military forces pull out of the region.