To thee old cause,
Thou peerless, passionate, good cause,
Thou stern, remorseless, sweet idea,
Deathless throughout the ages, races, lands,
After a strange sad war, great war for thee,
(I think all war through time was really fought, and ever will be really fought, for thee,)
These chants for thee, the eternal march of thee. –Walt Whitman, from “To thee old cause” in “Leaves of Grass” (1871; 1881)
At my most cynical, it’s hard not to feel like we’re subject and victim to a perpetual protection racket where our nation’s past military misadventures in the Mideast and Asia are primed and positioned to spark and erupt into sectarian violence in concert with each other, just to keep the U.S. military in the protection business. The United States stirs up trouble then promises to protect hapless folks in the way of our reckless, opportunistic aggression from the effects and consequences of our own blundering militarism.
We saw an example of that lingering, reflexive paternalism earlier this summer when President Obama used the refusal of a sizable number of the Iraqi army to defend the government against an advancing ISIS force as a pretense for U.S. military response.
To his credit, Pres. Obama initially discounted the need for the return of ground troops to Iraq and declared that no military action or assistance to the Iraqi government forces would be forthcoming without a ‘serious and sincere’ effort by the government to resolve political differences that have fueled the sectarian violence.
“Any action that we may take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences, to promote stability, and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force,” he told Americans.
“We can’t do it for them. And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, won’t succeed.”
Problem was, the political cards had been deliberately laid out in Iraq by his predecessor in a way that both compelled our government to respond as both an ally and an adversary of Iraqis. What other possible reason could there have been for continuing to escalate the numbers of troops in Iraq at the outset of Bush’s invasion while they purged the Iraqi police and military forces of thousands of Baathists?
What possible reason could there have been for continuing to introduce new, materially unprepared and untrained American troops into the killing field around the green zone of defense that surrounded the center of Bush’s junta? The government in Iraq had fallen. All that remained was the appearance of democracy, much like Saddam Hussein’s own rule; complete with a paper Parliament left to squabble over whatever scraps of their country that haven’t been sullied, stepped on, and stolen by their arrogant invading overlords.
There was no government left to defend there; only the remnants of the new tyrants’ reign, complete with enough chaos and mayhem to support the Bush regime’s protection racket; it’s a cynical racket that directed our forces to stir up enough resentment and unrest for the U.S. to continue to sit on their high horse and claim to be defending Iraqis (and the U.S.) against a new generation of ‘terrorists’ that Bush’s own National Security Estimate said his invasion and occupation had spawned and increased there.
As Saigon became Ho Chi Min City after the U.S. bugged out, Iraq’s Baghdad was always destined to reflect the designs of those Bush had identified as our ‘enemies’ — more so than the captured, occupied, and overthrown capital city will ever resemble any of the grand designs that Bush hawked to the American people to get their initial approval to invade. It becomes more of a conundrum than anything akin to the democracy American troops are pledged to support and defend.
The Iraqi prisons became more efficient torture chambers to crush the new junta’s political opposition who they locked up indefinitely without charges or counsel. The police forces re-assumed their duty as deadly enforcers with the summary judgment of their U.S. supported violence. The military devolved into bands of death squad militias, complete with United States’ weapons and para-military training. As the Iraqi government drew closer to the main spoke of Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil,’ Iran — Iraq was set to rival any of our other purchased regimes in its brutality and oppression.
Indeed, no more evidence is needed to demonstrate U.S. responsibility in creating this latest terror group — which President Obama has opportunistically conflated with our number one nemesis, al-Qaida — than Izzat Ibrahim. A Baathist leaders in the ISIS forces, Ibrahim was deposed in the initial invasion and occupation of Iraq along with other Baathist supporters of Saddam Hussein, and has been in active warfare with the Shiite-dominated Iraqi regime ever since they were enabled into power and began using their U.S.-supplied weapons to stage barbaric attacks against the Sunni minority population.
None of that, of course, is an excuse for any of the craven, power-driven violence on either side; it’s certainly not an excuse for the senseless displays of savage terror that ISIS has used as its tactic of intimidation. Yet, to Iraqis, the violence from U.S. cluster bombs and drones — or from the U.S.-protected Iraqi regime — is virtually indistinguishable from any other attack on their population.
There is no country in the world which threatens democratic progress in Iraq more than the United States. The Iraqi regime has been under siege from resistance forces in Iraq since the U.S. first pulled out its troops — forces whose cause has been fostered, inflamed and aggravated by previous American military activity in the country.
Moreover, the invasion and occupation of Iraq emboldened Bush to promote the agenda of his Project for the New American Century cronies. They’d petitioned for years for the invasion and occupation of the spokes of their ‘evil axis,’ and a foothold in Iraq allowed them to further position Iran as a mortal enemy of freedom. Yet, it was also a consequence of the invasion and occupation that allowed Iran to expand its influence and presence in its former nemesis: the U.S. sponsored, Shia-dominated regime in Iraq.
Bush’s most dangerous mischief (outside of the invasion and occupation) was, by far, his strident attempt to shift blame for the violent resistance to his consolidation of power in Iraq to the sovereign nation of Iran. Amazingly, Bush cited Iranian support for Shia “death squads” as a rationale for his accusations without any mention at all of his own role in the arming and training of these rogue elements — many of which began as militias under control of the new regime.
Bush’s rationalization was that an al-Qaida attack on the mosque in Samarra in early 2006 was the reason the Shia militias became independent execution squads, dispensing their barbaric brand of justice wherever and whenever they engage their Sunni rivals. “al-Qaida terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq’s elections posed for their cause,” Bush claimed, “and they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis. They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam — the Golden Mosque of Samarra — in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq’s Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked.” he said in a primetime address.
“Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads,” Bush said.
As Bush proposed an escalation of America’s involvement in the middle of Iraq’s civil war — including sending 4,000 of the 21,000 additional troops to the al-Anbar province to battle what he called “extremists” in the Sunni communities there — it should be remembered that it was our own forces who inflicted the first damage on a holy site in a siege in Najaf in 2004 when they were trying to dislodge Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army who had taken refuge around the Imam Ali shrine. It should also be remembered that it was al-Sadr and his followers who joined with Shiite leader Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani and enabled the new Iraqi regime, headed by Shiite and Al-Sadr ally, Nouri al-Maliki, to assume power.
In Iraq, under the pretext of fighting al-Qaida, Bush intended for our troops to re-enter strongholds like Najaf and Samarra, where they inevitably confronted the anti-American Shia forces who reside there. Bush challenged Maliki to act against his Shiite allies and provide him with Iraqi troops to help with his escalation, or take the blame for whatever chaos and unrest the bolstered U.S. force stirred up with their attacks on population centers.
It was amazing to hear Bush accuse Iran of sponsoring Shiite death squads when it was our own military who initially armed and trained them as recruits for Iraq’s army and police forces, and who tolerated them for months and months — before, during, and after the staged elections — as they terrorized their Sunni rivals and those factions opposed to the new Shiite-dominated regime.
Iran wasn’t occupying Iraq; the United States was. Iran hadn’t armed and trained the individuals who made up the bulk of the Shia death squads; the U.S. had. Iran wasn’t threatening anyone outside of their own borders. In fact, it was Bush who threatened Iran with our military forces amassed next door.
There was nothing more empowering of ‘extremists’ in Iraq than the reflexive response of the residents of the Middle East to U.S. military activity and action across sovereign borders. Nothing has encouraged support in the region for extremists bent on harming America’s and our interests more than Bush’s strident, imperious coup in Iraq. Whatever political atmosphere now exists in Iraq was first sparked by all of Bush’s saber-rattling and threats against his Axis of Evil. If Bush and his conservative acolytes wanted a stable Iraq, they clearly didn’t take the influence of their own pernicious militarism into account.
Now, President Obama is defending their tarnished Baghdad prize with yet another destabilizing display of military force, much like Bush’s cordoned last stand in defense of Baghdad after the rest of the country divided into warring sects.
Bush’s equation for troops in Iraq went like this: More violence = need for more troops. That’s the same equation President Obama has acquiesced to with his campaign of airstrikes and steadily escalating military presence and activity today. With that prescription, we will leave Iraq by … never. Iraq’s forces will always be challenged by some militarized resistance, even more so as they remain aligned with our aggravating military presence.
President Obama will never be able to encircle Baghdad with enough air power to crush the resistance to the U.S.-enabled Iraqi rule. The best he can hope for as he lobs missiles against what he identifies as our ‘enemy’ is an artificial prop of an unpopular junta. So why bother?
Possibly, the answer lies in the political pressure from his opponents to ‘do something.’ The chickenhawk-infested Republican majority have meshed the sacrifices of our soldiers into their ‘smear and fear’ campaigns to make themselves look like they’re the ones defending our security, and Democrats like the ones preventing us from ‘winning’ in Iraq. It’s a cynical mission, a shameful one.
What Republican critics fail to understand and acknowledge is that U.S. military activity in Iraq greatly heightened the violence instead of reducing it. It’s ludicrous to expect that more bombings, and the introduction of more weapons into Iraq will bring about any different result, no matter which Iraqis we identify and attack as enemies of our compromised and threatened junta.
Content posted to MyMPN open blogs is the opinion of the author alone, and should not be attributed to MintPress News.