War Is Easy When There Is Nothing to Learn, by Lucy Steigerwald

From Lucy Steigerwald at antiwar.com:

March 19 was the 13th anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq. Today, as noted by Antiwar News’ Jason Ditz, US Marines have been deployed in Kurdistan in order to aid Iraqi forces as they attempt to take back oil fields from the Islamic State. In full, shameless JFK-in-Vietnam mode, the fact that there are combat troops in Iraq is not to be mentioned or overstressed. No, these aren’t advisers, they’re just helping the Iraqi forces, these marines. Who are on the front lines.

This is our Iraq in 2016, starring some 3200 American soldiers. This is the nation that has suffered the deaths of up to 175,000 civilians since the US decided Saddam Hussein had to go. This is the war which Barack Obama allegedly ended in 2011. This is the war that was sold as a heroic intervention to prevent a mad dictator from using weapons of mass destruction, and dipped an entire region into civil war and gave us a new theocratic mob that scares even Al-Qaeda.

And damn, the Islamic State is chilling. They appear to be both more brutal and potentially more competent than Al-Qaeda, in that they’ve discovered the savvy tactic of decentralized terror attacks that require only a few people to pull off. It would be great if something or someone stopped their spread.

And yet, is the US slowly dribbling back into a war it never really stopped fighting going to do that? Remember when the Taliban was the worst group possible? And then Al-Qaeda? Remember, before that, when the Mujahideen could save Afghanistan from the horrible, Godless Soviets?

The biggest enemy conceivable to the US tends to change with a baffling cynicism. The most honest of the imperialist cynics admit this, and say that nothing matters except for the current convenience of the United States and its foreign policy. But most politicians and the pundits who echo them simply depend on outrage and demonization to drive policy – we must invade, Saddam is a villain, the USSR is full of monsters and communism must be contained. There is often some truth to this, in that foreign dictators or oppressive, collectivist nations and groups hurt people. However, it does not follow – and it never will follow – that a coup, a bombing campaign, or a full-force invasion will change anything for the better, or can be done without myriad civilians casualties. Nor is it true that such actions – even when done by the pure and noble West – will lead to regional stability, or, to use a now-cliché, a population that will welcome us with flowers.

How much proof do we need before people believe that intervention makes things worse? How can we try everything except for leaving, and not starting any more wars? Why is the answer always that we didn’t fight hard enough, when we should never have fought at all?

To continue reading: War Is Easy When There Is Nothing to Learn

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