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Iraq: Damned if we do, damned if we don't

We can't afford to walk away from Iraq. A look at how we got here and where we might go next.
U.S. faces no good options in Iraq

U.S. faces no good options in Iraq Credit: U.S. Army

The current crisis in Iraq, atop the continuing crisis in Ukraine/Crimea, should be sufficient to shift our attention from the Washington Redskins nickname and the upcoming midterm elections.

As we view these war-peace issues, we would do well to forget their near-term impacts on Democrats' or Republicans' political prospects, the lens through which mainstream and cable news journalists present everything these days. No, they bear watching through the larger lens of history. And they offer little reason for optimism.

To begin with, we in the U.S. see these issues from an entirely different vantage point than the countries and groups we view as upsetters of a rule-of-law, ordered international regime. (This will take a while to explain, so return to the Redskins and partisan politics if the subject bores you.)

Pre-modern history was mainly a story of ethnic groups and tribes trying to enlarge or protect their own regions. Then came the colonial era in which developed countries, in Europe in particular, strove to accumulate financial and economic power and vital resources by grabbing Asian, African, Middle Eastern and Latin American territory. 

Before World War I, the colonizers saw nothing but peace and prosperity ahead for their own European continent. You could travel across European borders without a passport. There were rivalries and tensions between the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and the Austro-Hungarian empire, but nothing, it was thought, that could lead to war. The colonized were seen as lower-caste hewers of wood and drawers of water at the service of their colonial masters.

But the tragedies of World Wars I and II not only shattered all major developed countries but the United States, which emerged the only true economic and political winner. Those conflicts shattered colonialism and created a new world order. In it, the most powerful nations — think of them as today's Group of Seven, plus Russia — continued to have the strongest voice in world affairs, but emergent countries had a place at the table. Within those emergent countries, some of which acquired nuclear weapons, ethnic and religious rivalries often outweighed loyalties to newly established nationhood. 

Which brings us to Iraq.

Almost 100 years ago Great Britain drew arbitrary lines across a map to form that country. The lines included northern Kurds, western Sunni-Muslims and eastern Shiite Muslims. There was no logical reason to put these groups into the same country, except for the convenience of British administrators.

As the post-colonial era moved on, Iraq remained one country, held together — as many others in similar situations — by a ruthless strong man, Saddam Hussein. Saddam, a Sunni, included a few Kurds and Shiites in his government. But real power resided with him and his Sunni-dominated Baath party. 

Oil revenue kept the country running. Saddam undertook chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs to establish Iraq's position in the region. He won a bloody, extended war against Shiite Iran, then went too far by invading Kuwait and threatening neighboring Saudi Arabia. 

In response, President George H.W. Bush led a coalition against Saddam. The multinational offensive afforded the northern Kurds protection and semi-autonomy, gave Shiites a measure of cover and grossly degraded Saddam's military capability. But it left Saddam in power. 

After that first Gulf War, Saddam continued to boast of his chemical, biological and nuclear-weapons programs.  As it turned out, they never got restarted. Saddam was just trying to frighten his regional rivals. Even his generals believed that these weapons existed, under some other general's jurisdiction. We know now they did not.

Gulf War II, as it turned out, was a blunder as big as the U.S. intervention in Vietnam in the 1960s. In both cases, U.S. policymakers totally misread the situations in those countries. Vietnam was seen as part of the Cold War. It was instead an internal conflict that did not involve American vital interests. 

Iraq was seen as a regional threat led by a tyrant who might make turn his weapons of mass destruction against, among others, Israel. When George W. Bush launched his war against Iraq, it was broadly supported by, among others, then-Senators Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. All agreed that Iraq's possession of WMD made war necessary. Only later did we learn that the WMD programs no longer existed. Iraq, like Vietnam, posed no threat to American vital interests.


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Comments:

Posted Sun, Jun 22, 8:09 a.m. Inappropriate

Great article, Ted.

I think, short term, you are probably right in your conclusion that we need to maintain some sort of order in Iraq and overall in the middle east. Otherwise we will probably be confronted by larger degrees of terrorism attempts.

However, long term, I think we do have options. The best is for the world to divest of petroleum dependencies. With little revenue going to most of the middle east, I think they will mostly turn their attention inwards. Either they will attempt to westernize on their own or revert to more feudal practices (hopefully, eventually, the former). Regardless, without western political and military influence, even the extremists will start to forget about us.

pragmatic

Posted Sun, Jun 22, 12:43 p.m. Inappropriate

"This all goes beyond Democrats and Republicans, George W. Bush and Barack Obama."

Which doesn't stop Republicans from politicizing it for all it is worth...

The rise of politico-religious chauvinism, not just among Muslims (Sunni and Shiite), but also Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and, yes, Christians is fueling sectarian violence across the world and belying "post-modern" globalist optimism.

The counter to this is not a new imperialism (whether of the west-east or north-south variety), whether espoused by conservative or liberal "hawks", but a healthy pessimism when it comes to military "interventions" - this need not imply a new isolationism, but simply that such involvements should be based on a truly multilateral consensus grounded in pragmatic and realistic rationales and objectives, such as was achieved in the Kosovo conflict, for instance. Actions in defense of strategic interests (Iraqi oil fields?) should not be inflated into geo-political crusades.

Posted Sun, Jun 22, 5:52 p.m. Inappropriate

1639 words (8 double-spaced typed pages) and it boils down to "we must maintain at least a token residual force"?

Is that really it?

Ted,
I don't have time for discerning subtle hidden-meanings.
If you have a real suggestion about what to do, please tell us.

Posted Sun, Jun 22, 7:04 p.m. Inappropriate

Didn't we leave a token residual force in Vietnam too?

Bella

Posted Sun, Jun 22, 7:58 p.m. Inappropriate

Thanks for the comments. A couple responses.

1. No, we left no residual force in Vietnam. We cleared out and the government in Hanoi took over---exactly the outcome that would have taken place had we and our western allies abided in 1954 by the Geneva Accords providing for free elections leading to a unified country.

2. Sucher appears to have difficulty understanding. No hidden meanings. Pretty explicit.

Short term, we have no option in Iraq but to stop the so-called ISIS---hopefully, with less than major commitment of U.S. forces and money. But it may be more difficult than we think. Just walking away is not an option, for the reasons cited.

Longer term, we must face the probability that we may not get the western-oriented, unified Iraq that the U.S. would wish. We thus should lower our sights. Policy should aim toward an Iraqi regime, however constituted, which is stable and able to hold off jihadists.
In need not be an ally. That means pursuing policies not based on unrealistic expectations or making demands on Iraqi leaders and factions which they will not and cannot meet.

Telling Iraqis what they must do to get our help in holding off ISIS
is not productive. Whether or not they do what we wish, we've got to
stop ISIS because it is important to our own vital interests. It's for us, not for them.

Posted Sun, Jun 22, 8:38 p.m. Inappropriate

Thx, Ted.
Your reply aspirational.
But still not clear.

In your main text you specify
"token residual force to sustain the leverage."
Then in Reply you state
"Short term, we have no option in Iraq but to stop the so-called ISIS---hopefully, with less than major commitment of U.S. forces and money."

I assume that "no option...." means UNLIMITED USA commitment or else the you were simply being rhetorical and exaggerating the danger.

Ted,
I am not disagreeing with you; I don't have enough knowledge to offer an opinion.
I just want to make sure I understand what you are saying:

Are you saying that USA must be prepared to commit unlimited US resources of people & money to destroy ISIS? Including sending hundreds of thousands of US ground troops to Iraq if necessary?

And yes I was teasing you a bit -- such a lengthy article w/ so little point -- and I apologize. But now I am genuinely intrigued. Are you arguing for Iraq 3?

Posted Sun, Jun 22, 8:33 p.m. Inappropriate

Ted Wrote:
"1. No, we left no residual force in Vietnam. We cleared out and the government in Hanoi took over---exactly the outcome that would have taken place had we and our western allies abided in 1954 by the Geneva Accords providing for free elections leading to a unified country."

Really, Ted? No residual force left in Vietnam? Perhaps you should define a 'residual force' and more importantly, its duties....Maybe we will have better understanding of a residual force as you define and deem it should be applied in Iraq. Thanks.

Bella

Posted Mon, Jun 23, 12:23 a.m. Inappropriate

There were no residual U.S. combat units in Vietnam leading up to the fall of Saigon - there were some military troops and CIA officers attached to the U.S. Embassy, who had to be evacuated by helicopter. The same is true in Bagdad.

Posted Mon, Jun 23, 10:37 p.m. Inappropriate

We are not going to stop ISIS. They are less than a day away from Baghdad.

And if you think exhaustively outlining the history of the past 40 years is an explanation of why we should stay in that benighted, ruined country (that is really three countries cobbled together), you are patently senile.

sarah90

Posted Mon, Jun 23, 11:34 p.m. Inappropriate

I doubt anyone desires a continuing stay in Iraq. However, this now is about more than Iraq. It is about a hostile, well armed, well financed jihadist base in at least parts of Syria and Iraq, perhaps more, which could destabilize the region and be a base for terrorist operations against many countries, including the United States. Our vital interests are most decidedly involved (as they were not either in Vietnam or in Gulf War II).

The historical context was offered to enable interested readers to know how and why we got to this place and how the local culture/politics would influence events going forward.

I am not yet senile but you may already be stupid.

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 7:50 a.m. Inappropriate

Speaking of historical context - the spilt soup is still warm and people are already forgetting, or trying to revise, how the hell we created this mess in the first place. It's astounding to see the neo-cons march in front of the cameras again on the Sunday political talk shows - Wolfiwitz, Cheney, Rumsfield, Kristol, etc.

These guys got it so wrong the first time why are they give air time now? "The Iraq War will pay for itself from oil revenues", "They will greet us as liberators". "Iraq is building weapons of mass destruction", "There no need to nation-build, democracy will sprout".

There was zero evidence that Iraq had nuclear weapons. Zero.

So let's be clear about this. We went into Iraq because the president and a small group of adhered to a policy view that if we "liberated" Iraq it would set off a chain of events that eventually would lead to democratic take-overs throughout the middle east and then allow Israel to more stongly assert itself against the Palestinians.

Well how did all that work out to date? It has cost us $1.7 Trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans - expenses that will grow to more than $6 Trillion over the next four decades counting interest. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 189,000 Iraqis killed directly - and up to 3 times that indirectly. 4,486 US soldiers killed, 32,000+ wounded.

Oh yea - but this time it will be different. We need to hang around more and do some good.

Treker

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 9:40 a.m. Inappropriate

So, Ted, you ARE advocating unlimited US commitment - Iraq 3. I find it hard to believe but it seems that that is where you are.

Next question: are YOU ready to go and fight in Iraq? At least in some logistical support function?

Will you go?

Posted Wed, Jun 25, 12:20 a.m. Inappropriate

Nope, I'm not. The region is actually not destabilized; it is undergoing a number of all-out wars between ethnic, religious, and political powers that aren't connected at all to the countries that we Western nations are used to seeing on a map. And we Western nations can't do anything about it because we are outside of it. You and others (including the still-partly-sentient neocons others have mentioned) may think our "vital interests" are involved, but you are simply parroting what was said about Vietnam and Gulf War I and Gulf War II, and you don't seem to realize it. Most readers of Crosscut don't need the historical lecture; we've watched it happen. This is not the Stranger where readers are in their 20s. Some of us are damned near your age.

sarah90

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 6:30 a.m. Inappropriate

Our long term friend,Israel,should help us by sending their forces to counter these jihadists in Israel's back yard. The U.S. is over extended. We have China and Putin to handle. That is more than enough for our exhausted troops.

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 9:09 a.m. Inappropriate

Israel has already said their view of this is that when two of your enemies are fighting each other you just let them have at it and weaken one another. They have no interest in getting between the Shia and Sunni. In some respects, they have more sense and understand the limits of power.

Treker

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 9:34 a.m. Inappropriate

While we still have a strategic interest in the region, it has been reduced due to less reliance on foreign oil. I would say we have an interest in seeing that the Bagdad line holds, but none in going back in to win a new war for Maliki and his ilk.

If the Iranians want a regionwide sectarian war, with Maliki as their proxy, there is little we can do to forestall it.

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 9:40 a.m. Inappropriate

The last thing we should want is Israel's involvement. Nothing would be more likely to set off a general Middle East war.

As my piece made clear, I agree with Treker that Gulf War II was a dreadful and costly mistake. Nothing wrong with acknowledging same.
But now we face a new situation which does not involve "hanging around to do some good." It involves stopping an ISIS offensive, right now,
that could throw the entire region into chaos and endanger the U.S.

John Kerry has concluded his meetings in Iraq. U.S. military advisors and analysts are on the ground. The administration, you can be sure, would bring Americans into ground combat as only a last, desperate resort. The most likely near-term actions will be carrier-based air strikes on the lengthy ISIS columns bringing troops, vehicles, and materiel back and forth between eastern Syria and Iraq. That would help isolate ISIS forces already fighting in Iraq.

There's lots of blame to share for the circumstances which made
Iraq ripe for such an offensive. But Job One is to stop it, like it or not.

Posted Wed, Jun 25, 12:27 a.m. Inappropriate

Oh please. Job One (I can hardly type that tilly TV-commercial phrase) is to stay the hell out of this mess.

I don't think you understand how much you sound like the pre-boots-on-the-ground drumbeating that went on about Vietnam. The ISIS forces are not the only terrorist forces in the Middle East/North Africa, and unlike Vietnam, America getting involved in this will bring those fighters to wherever we go. This is 2014 and ISIS and others are using the internet to wage their war against the West. The rhetoric of 30 years ago doesn't make sense anymore, Mr. Van Dyk.

sarah90

Posted Wed, Jun 25, 11:13 a.m. Inappropriate

I agree that U.S. boots are not going back onto the ground in Iraq, other than in the form of advisors/observers. That doesn't mean that U.S. air power will not be used to draw a line at Bagdad and protect oil resources in southern Iraq. Any gains northward will need to be done by Iraqi boots.

The wildcards: 1) Iran sends boots, rather than just money and arms, into Iraq and 2) Maliki follows Assad's example in attacking Sunni civilian targets.

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 9:59 a.m. Inappropriate

I gotta say, why the hell are we spending so much of our Treasury in intelligence if they keep getting surprised - it's like ISI came out of nowhere. Nip it in the bud - I think it's a bit late for that. I'm not clear on exactly what you want us to do to stem this tide. Start dropping more bombs or straffing them with drones - yea, that wouldn't rile them up and make a good recruiting poster.

Figgin' A - ISIS has already looted American made artillery and tanks and taken them back over the border to Syria. I don't see any solution to what was, by far, the foreign policy blunder of the century by the U.S. Going into Iraq in the first place. Somehow the solution we always come up with (see any number of John McCain's speeches recently) is to bomb the crap out of someone. Maybe it's time for a new strategy. Like minding our own figgin' business.

Treker

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 11:04 a.m. Inappropriate

Shorter Ted:

ISIS is a problem.
We should "do something."

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 1:22 p.m. Inappropriate

You know better, Sucher. The "do something" is spelled out quite clearly both in the piece and comment stream. Don't be a smart ass.
You know less than you apparently think.

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 3:03 p.m. Inappropriate

This is the only "recommendation" I see in the article - rather vague I'd say:

"Job One, right now, is stop the aggression by the jihadist"

The rest of the article is a bunch of parlor game alternatives of "what if this happens".

How, exactly, are we supposed to get "job one" done? Is the Pottery Barn rule in effect and it is the responsibility of the U.S. Don't the regional powers, such as Saudi Arabia have any "national interests" here in their backyard? We don't need anymore imperialistic adventures and waste of our blood and treasure. Pull the plug on this fiasco once and for all.

Somehow you think we're going to improve upon our f%$#-ups to-date?

Treker

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 3:45 p.m. Inappropriate

Thx, Treker. I also don't see any specifics in my good friend Ted's article, whether I agree with him or not: his article has no substance; there is "no there, there."

The best I can tease out (in a Reply) is that he favors unlimited USA commitment of people and money, including troops on the ground. But not even sure of that. Just kinda guessing at what he is meaning. Seems hard to believe, too. simply as so politically unrealistic. So it would be nice to hear some confirmation or denial from Ted.

(It seems pretty well-agreed that across the board we don't want another American mid-east adventure. Don't misunderstand I take ISIS and the collapse of Iraq very seriously. I just have no idea what makes sense.)

So my sense is that -- like most of us -- Ted doesn't have a clear idea of what our nation should be doing with Iraq. My friend Ted claims otherwise but his own (lack of) words in this article belie him.

Posted Wed, Jun 25, 12:30 a.m. Inappropriate

Look, you write an article, and we comment. Your article is not a bound volume in a library. Again, this is 2014, not 1974.

sarah90

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 2:03 p.m. Inappropriate

Ted, why is it that I feel that after close to forty-five years I am once again being subject to what amounts to a Middle East version of the domino theory? The initial argument for Iraq2 was WMD's, and you now advise our intervention is required because a reportedly small group of sectarian militia are now a threat to us? A US trained and supplied Iraqi Army does not have the commitment and will to fight this militia and you want to endanger or expend US lives in their place, Ted? Instead of berating Mr. Sucher, I would hope for deeper questioning and better analysis.

Bella

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 3:50 p.m. Inappropriate

Yep, it all seems nuisancesome and deja vu. And, yes, there are domino-theory arguments being made again. The difference is that, in Vietnam, they were invalid whereas now, in the Middle East, they sadly are valid.

Once again: The ISIS forces are a threat to us because, with access to weapons, money, people, and territory, they have the capacity to train fighters, send them into neighboring countries, and mount large-scale
terrorist operations locally and in the West. They can't be minimized. Which is why National Security Council meetings are being held and the Secretary of State and senior military types have been in Iraq and meeting with other leaders of the region. It is why U.S. intelligence and military operational advisors are back in Baghdad.

Other countries in the region?: Remember that this is the Middle East, where treachery reigns. The Gulf states, our so-called allies, covertly fund jihadist groups in a kind of protection racket. Iran would like to get directly involved and send its own national forces directly into the fight---not only to defeat Sunnis but to establish Iraq as a semi-satellite state. We don't want Israel in the fight, lest a Middle Eastern war ensue. Turkey principally is worried about Kurds trying to establish an independent Kurdistan (including present
Turkish territory). The Russians are backing Assad in Syria. They don't like jihadists either but enjoy seeing us put in a difficult box.
With sufficient time, the multinational coalition which fought Gulf War One might be reconstituted. But our European partners are even more fatigued than we and are coping with economic weakness. Beyond that, they see Russia as a greater threat on their eastern frontiers.

Now, pretend you are sitting in the White House. Do you say: To heck with it, let these factions fight it out in Iraq. We're glad to be done with them. Do you say: ISIS may look dangerous now but let's wait and see how dangerous they truly are. Or do you say: These guys are dangerous beyond Iraq, both regionally and globally, and we should try to stop them now before they gain further strength. This is about our interests, not those of Iraq or some third country.

Consider what you would do. Absent an Iraqi force able to check ISIS, you might consider doing what appears about to happen: That is, air strikes against ISIS troop and supply routes while you pursue follow-on diplomatic and military actions to checkmate them where they are.

Our dialogue gets nowhere if one or more posters weigh in without appearing to have read the original piece or offer gotcha comments which simply vent or avoid examining alternatives. Many writers don't respond to comment streams following their articles. I do because I think it is important to do so. I'm leaving town right now. I'll check in a couple days hence to see what further you've had to say.
Make it your forum.

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 5:02 p.m. Inappropriate

Talking about cut-and-run...
I am disappointed that you have taken this approach, Ted.
Maybe feeling a lot of pressure? I'll understand; we all are; but it wasn't one of your best days and you might think about making amends as you were really out of line in some of your remarks. This is not Stranger's "SLOG" where children spout off.

Of course your editors were cruel to have allowed this article published, or at minimum to have framed it as a purely historical one with no suggestion as to what should be done.

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 6:41 p.m. Inappropriate

Checked in one last time before departure. Keep it going.

Sucher, I don't know who you are or where you get your information or expertise. If you don't want this comment stream not being the Stranger's SLOG, where children spout off, I suggest you take a grown-up approach to your posts and discuss this and other issues seriously.

One peril in a comment stream is that it often is used by those motivated by hostility---which usually points to some unhappy person beset by ignorance and insecurity. I've spent more than 40 years in policymaking, including foreign- and national-security policymaking, and am not considering these issues for the first time. I've also written hundreds of articles in national publications about these issues. So I am not some amateur shooting from the hip. Of course I suggested what needed to be done but you do not want to be bothered by facts. If you have another view of the situation, and the best options to pursue, you ought to submit your own article to Crosscut or another publication. I'd be interested in reading anything you have to offer beyond nastiness.

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 7:08 p.m. Inappropriate

You are way out of line, Ted.
Please don't embarrass yourself any further.

Posted Wed, Jun 25, 12:33 a.m. Inappropriate

OK, we're sitting in the White House. And yes, we do say: to hell with it, let these factions fight it out. Anywhere they feel the need to do so. We're done with them. We're not waiting to see anything; we're taking care of our own people with what tax money we have in this not-yet-recovered economy. Not one more soldier, not one more dollar drained out into the Middle East.

sarah90

Posted Wed, Jun 25, 8:40 a.m. Inappropriate

Sarah90,
I know exactly how you feel -- a pox on all their houses and let's not get involved.

But there is something very troubling about ISIS taking over a good part of one of the richest oil-producing regions of the world. I don't think that there is any doubt that ISIS is an extremely vicious organization with far-reaching goals. And yes, I make no bones about It: it is in some large measure about oil.

What to do? No idea. Just as we don't know what to do about Syria.

The American public (thank god) is in no mood for sending an American army over there.

But Tom Ricks offer a very troubling Tweet: "What if everything that has happened in Iraq since 2003 is just preamble to the main event?"

But for us to do...?

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 4:32 p.m. Inappropriate

OK - airstrikes happen - then what? ISIS holds towns and oil refineries - we just going to bomb the crap out of these populated areas and facilities?

I thought all the piles of money we were throwing at the CIA, DIA, NSA, DHS and the pile of other alphabit spook agencies since 911 was supposed to give us leaders to prevent us from being caught off guard. It's like ISIS sprouted from the garden till we prepared in Iraq instantly. Now it's suddenly a threat to "national security". Even though this is undefined.

A strong word of advice - whenever you see this phase volleyed around you know there is noting specific that can be offered as to why we need to spend more money, drop more bombs, and generally try to (again) police the world. We could always trot out that tried and true message of "better to fight them over there than over here".

To be clear - yes - I would definitely pull the plug on our involvement and limit it to targeted drone strikes. It's a mess and we created it. There is no pretty ending here and should be taken as a bitter pill and lessons learned on foreign adventures and unintended consequences.

Treker

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 4:45 p.m. Inappropriate

One other thought - Seems what is inevitable is the partitioning of Iraq into three sectors - Kurds, Sunnis, and Shias. Which many folks thought from the start was the only sensible solution instead of trying to impose some cartoonish version of a Jeffersonian democracy on such a tribal area that was only held together as a country by tyranny.

What a total f*&^ed up mess we have made of that region.

Treker

Posted Wed, Jun 25, 8:42 p.m. Inappropriate

According to the news today, Iraq is now effectively sectioned into three tribal areas. None of them want anything to do with the others. We'd better accept that because more blood and armaments will not force them back into one "country" again.

sarah90

Posted Sat, Jun 28, 2:59 a.m. Inappropriate

Ted, the line about how everyone believed that Saddam had WMDs is utterly false and should not be repeated. Sure, it has been the official story for some time now, but it's just more propaganda. The Bush administration did not even believe it themselves. What they were looking for, as the Downing Street Memo made clear, was a justification for what they had already decided, before 9/11, to do -- invade Iraq.

To that end, they cynically ginned up war hysteria. The neocons sent up a new bogus trial balloon every couple of weeks, making up for a lack of real evidence with fear-mongering and intimidation. The yellowcake uranium transfer was fabricated, so they punished the man who found that out, and his wife too. The weapons inspectors found nothing, so the neocons resorted to character assassination of one of the inspectors. Dick Cheney had to go out to the CIA to throw a fit because they weren't producing the evidence he demanded. Saddam's "drone" was some balsa-wood toy. Colin Powell failed to make the Administration's case before the UN -- his vial of sugar was unconvincing.

Those of us who weren't watching Fox "News" could see very well that Saddam's boasts we're empty, as were the Bush administrations claims. Otherwise, there would have been some real evidence, like JFK's photos of Soviet missiles in Cuba. It was no surprise at all that there were no WMDs.

But that didn't matter to the Bush administration-- their lies had gotten them what they desired, which was to invade Iraq.

No, we are certainly not exempt from history. History is an evidence-based examination of the past, not the recitation of the official story about it.

argus

Posted Sat, Jun 28, 10:42 p.m. Inappropriate

As an old person myself, I try to not patronize younger people by assuming that I must tell them everything I "know" because I assume they know nothing. Ted, I think you've fallen prey to behavior, and if you don't want critical comments, you should stop it.

sarah90

Posted Sat, Jun 28, 10:43 p.m. Inappropriate

"that behavior"

Off-topic: thank god captcha is no longer using those illegible series of letters and is using easily-legible numbers instead.

sarah90

Posted Sun, Jun 29, 11:14 a.m. Inappropriate

Will the U.S. stand by and watch Iraq fall to ISIL? Obviously not. Military force would clearly be employed to draw a line, most likely at Bagdad. While we (and our allies) might concede sand to ISIL, the same can't be said for oil.

Military force alone, however, cannot guarantee political stability in Iraq (or Syria, Libya, etc.). If Maliki and Iraqi Shiites, relying on the backing of Iran (and Russia?), are unwilling to reach across sectarian lines, then an ad hoc tripartite division of Iraq, at least over the near- to mid-term, could be inevitable. On the positive side, it would leave ISIL likely fighting on three fronts (vs. Assad, the Iraqi Shiites, and the Kurds).

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