Tag Archives: Iraq

Bait-and-Switch: How Officials Perpetuate Bad Foreign Policy, by Ted Galen Carpenter

Another name for it is the camel’s nose under the tent: get some sort of minimal involvement in another country and once you’re in, expand the mission. From Ted Galen Carpenter at theamericanconservative.com:

Unscrupulous used car dealers could learn a trick or two from America’s foreign policy mandarins when it comes to bait-and-switch tactics. Repeatedly, U.S. officials have invoked a specific justification—frequently an emotionally charged one with wide appeal—to obtain congressional and public support for a military intervention or other questionable policy initiative. When the original justification subsequently proves to be bogus, exaggerated, or no longer applicable, they simply create a new rationale to justify continuing the mission.

That tactic is especially evident with respect to the seemingly endless war in Afghanistan. U.S. leaders justified the initial invasion of the country as a necessary response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Foreign fighters belonging to Al Qaeda had used the country as their primary safe haven, and the Taliban government had allowed Osama bin Laden and his organization to plan and execute the attacks from that sanctuary. Given the public’s emotional trauma from the 9/11 episode, the nearly total lack of opposition to launching the Afghanistan invasion was unsurprising. In statement after statement during the initial months and years that followed, American officials reiterated that defeating Al Qaeda—and, if possible, killing or capturing bin Laden—was the primary objective. Ousting the Taliban regime was a corollary to that goal, but no one advocated a long-term war against that indigenous Afghan faction, however odious its social policies might be.

Within a few years, though, the official justifications were quite different. Washington had moved from supposedly waging war against a foreign terrorist organization to explicitly taking sides in an Afghan civil war. U.S. political and military leaders routinely described the Taliban as the principal enemy as though that were always the case. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were scarcely mentioned at all. Indeed, by 2010, U.S. military commanders conceded that there were probably no more than a few dozen Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.

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Ten Years Since Beginning of Failed Regime-Change Operation Against Syria, by Paul Antonopoulos

When does a long war become a forever war? A decade seems like a good dividing line. From at antiwar.com:

The initial coalition against Syria has collapsed, with Turkey frustrated over the U.S.’ sustained support for the Kurds and the Arabs pivoting back to Syria.

On this exact day ten years ago, NATO, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Turkey and Israel began a coordinated campaign of regime change against President Bashar al-Assad and the destruction of Syria. This has led to the death of over 500,000 people, millions of refugees, destroyed infrastructure and an economy in crisis. Despite numerous political maneuvers, this alliance against Syria catastrophically failed and could not achieve regime change. Not only did Assad survive the onslaught, but the geopolitical situation dramatically changed as a result.

Each aggressor had its own ambitions in Syria but was united in the goal to achieve regime change. Thanks to the contributions made by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, the Syrian government survived the coordinated aggression. Whilst NATO and Turkey continue to insist on regime change, Arab states, most prominently Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, were forced to normalize their relations with Syria to counter the growing threat of Turkish expansionism and influence into the Arab World that they had not anticipated when they decided to destroy Syria ten years ago.

Although a U.S.-dominated unipolar system was consolidated with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia’s 2008 intervention to defend the de facto republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia against NATO-encouraged Georgian forces was the first sign of an emerging multipolar system. A multipolar system, where there is a more equal distribution of power compacted into spheres of influence, was strengthened whilst the US could only helplessly watch as Russia successfully defended South Ossetia and Abkhazia in a region that falls under Moscow’s sphere of influence.

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The Christmas Truce of 1914 – Why There Is Still No Peace On Earth, by David Stockman

When the Soviet Union collapsed the world had its best opportunity since World War I for peace. That chance was not seized by the US government. From David Stockman at antiwar.com:

After the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and the death of the Soviet Union was confirmed two years later when Boris Yeltsin courageously stood down the Red Army tanks in front of Moscow’s White House, a dark era in human history came to an end.

The world had descended into a 77-Year War, incepting with the mobilization of the armies of old Europe in August 1914. If you want to count bodies, 150 million were killed by all the depredations that germinated in the Great War, its foolish aftermath at Versailles, and the march of history into World War II and the Cold War that followed inexorably thereupon.

Upwards of 8% of the human race was wiped out during that span. The toll encompassed the madness of trench warfare during 1914-1918; the murderous regimes of Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism that rose from the ashes of the Great War and Versailles; and then the carnage of WWII and all the lesser (unnecessary) wars and invasions of the Cold War including Korea and Vietnam.

At the end of the Cold War, therefore, the last embers of the fiery madness that had incepted with the guns of August 1914 had finally burned out. Peace was at hand. Yet 29 years later there is still no peace because Imperial Washington confounds it.

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The 9/11 Attacks: Understanding Al-Qaeda and the Domestic Fall-Out from America’s Secret War, by Sam Jacobs

This is a good review of the history surrounding 9/11. From Sam Jacobs at ammo.com:

With American military personnel now entering service who were not even alive on 9/11, this seems an appropriate time to reexamine the events of September 11, 2001 – the opaque motives for the attacks, the equally opaque motives for the counter-offensive by the United States and its allies known as the Global War on Terror, and the domestic fall-out for Americans concerned about the erosion of their civil liberties on the homefront.

Before venturing further, it’s worth noting that our appraisal is not among the most common explanations. Osama bin Laden, his lieutenants at Al-Qaeda, and the men who carried out the attack against the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon are not “crazy,” unhinged psychopaths launching an attack against the United States without what they consider to be good reason.

Nor do we consider then-President George W. Bush to be either a simpleton, a willing conspirator, an oil profiteer, or a Machivellian puppet whose cabinet were all too happy to take advantage of a crisis.

The American press tends to portray its leaders as fools and knaves, and America’s enemies as psychopathic. Because the propaganda machine hammered away so heavily on the simple “cowardly men who hate our freedom” line, there was not much in the way of careful consideration of the actual political motives of the hijackers, the Petro-Islam that funded them, the ancient, antagonistic split between Sunni and Shi’a, the fall-out from the 1979 Iranian revolution or the 1970s energy crisis, the historical context of covert American involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War and the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, nor the perceived “imperialist humanitarianism” of American military adventures of the 1990s in Muslim nations like Bosnia, Iraq, Somalia and Kosovo. Alone, none of these factors were deadly. Combined, they provided a lethal combination.

It is our considered opinion that the events of 9/11 and those that followed in direct response to the attacks – including the invasion of Iraq – were carried out by good faith rational actors who believed they were acting in the best interests of their religion or their nation. There are no conspiracy theories here; sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

This opinion does not in any way absolve the principals from moral responsibility for the consequences of their actions. It does, however, provide what we believe to be a more accurate and nuanced depiction of events than is generally forthcoming from any sector of the media – because we see these principals as excellent chess players who, in the broad sweep of events, engaged in actions which are explicable.

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The Irrational Logic of Leaving Troops in Iraq, by Bonnie Kristian

The case for leaving troops in Iraq is just as solid and air-tight as the cases for leaving troops in Afghanistan and Syria. The only way for outsiders to win in the Middle East is to stay out. From Bonnie Kristian at nationalinterest.org:

Prolonging U.S. military intervention is making it more difficult for Iraq to achieve stability and sapping American defense resources.

raq does not need “direct and military support, and support on the ground” from the United States, new Iraqi prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said in an interview last week before his visit to Washington. His country might want U.S. “cooperation and assistance” at different levels in the future, Al-Kadhimi allowed, depending on “the changing nature of terrorism’s threat.” But the support he mentioned—military training and arms provision—would be a marked drawdown from the current U.S. role in Iraq.

American policymakers should take notice. After seventeen years of fighting, the war in Iraq is a demonstrable failure—and yet a failure with no end in sight.

The Trump administration has repeatedly promised to draw down the U.S. military presence in Iraq, but it’s not clear President Donald Trump really wants to leave. Apparently unguided by any coherent strategy, he threatens further escalation as easily as he condemns the initial invasion. His passion for ending “endless wars” is perhaps not all-consuming.

There are about five thousand American troops in Iraq now, basically the same deployment level as when this administration began. When the Iraqi parliament in January demanded all foreign troops leave their country, the administration rejected the request. “At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how best to recommit to our strategic partnership,” said the State Department, “not to discuss troop withdrawal.”

This is unsurprising, as key administration advisers evince no urgency toward departure: the commander of U.S. Central Command, Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., is open about his belief that the United States should continue to occupy Iraq forever, perpetually on hand to combat remnants of the Islamic State or whatever group succeeds it. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday promised the U.S. military would be busy in Iraq for a long time to come, refusing to discuss the possibility of withdrawal, asking reporters “not to focus on that.”

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America’s 30-Year War Against Iraq: Bring the Troops Home, by Doug Bandow

Nobody can satisfactorily explain why the US military is still in Iraq. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

Three decades ago Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait. It was no contest. Hussein was vastly more ruthless than Kuwait’s emir. Iraq’s military was significantly larger than Kuwait’s armed forces. Hussein declared his conquest to be Iraq’s 19th province.

However, President George H.W. Bush decided that Iraq’s aggression would not stand. The following February the U.S. forced Iraq out of Kuwait. Rather than return home, the Pentagon left bases and troops strewn about the Middle East. Through the Bush and Clinton administrations American forces maintained two no-fly zones in Iraq, launched regular bombing raids to punish Baghdad for failing to cooperate with UN nuclear inspectors and committing other alleged offenses, embargoed Iraq’s oil, and funded opposition groups in a push for regime change. At a time of nominal peace the US averaged a bombing raid a week on Iraq.

President George W Bush continued Washington’s unofficial war against Iraq, before deciding to use the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to invade the country and oust Hussein. Starting in March 2003, he speedily ousted Hussein. Unfortunately, Bush also triggered a bitter, bloody sectarian war and created al-Qaeda in Iraq, which morphed into the Islamic State. Iraqis and Americans are still fighting Islamist extremists, with no end in sight. Only now US forces also are primed to battle Iran, whose influence in Iraq was dramatically multiplied when Washington removed the secular Sunni Saddam Hussein from command of the majority Shia country.

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Militarism in a Time of Pandemic: The Arrogance of the (Ongoing) US War in Iraq, by Danny Sjursen

Refusing to leave a country that’s supposedly an ally, and then waging war on it, definitely sounds like arrogance. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Look, I’m no doctor; not a scientist; certainly no expert in epidemiology. So I’ve kept silent, for the most part, on the Coronavirus. Being more than a little out of my depth on the subject, I’ll continue to do so. Nonetheless, it is striking how the disease outbreak has swallowed the news cycle whole, totally blotted out the sun of reportage on America’s ongoing militarist wars. While almost certainly not the cause or initial motive, 24/7 Corona-coverage has been convenient for the establishment media and political elites: a beyond-reproach justification for total blackout for U.S. wars and violent interventions that continue to kill our soldiers and – in far greater numbers – foreigners unlucky enough to live in the vast, contested expense from West Africa to Central Asia.

Generally, I’m a decidedly Occam’s Razor sort of guy: which is to say, one who never rules out the preeminence of contingency and rank incompetence as an explanatory tool for world events. Conspiracy peddling is hardly my go-to position. Still, however this Corona emergency turns out – passing (let’s hope) panic or zombie apocalypse – it must be said that the wall-to-wall disease reporting serves as an opportune disciplining tool. To wit, while it’s totally acceptable to utilize Corona as a cudgel – by the establishment “Left,” and it’s peculiar neoconservative allies – to batter (perhaps somewhat appropriately) Donald Trump, any critical analysis of the media response and it’s failure to report other war-related news is beyond the pale. Count me skeptical of the polite, prevailing band of admissible discourse.

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Iraq’s Resistance Reveals How U.S. Troops Will Be Removed From Its Country, by Moon of Alabama

The US wants a big military presence in Iraq to harass Iran. The only problem is Iraq wants the US out. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:

Yesterday the U.S. attacked five sites in Iraq and killed 3 Iraqi soldiers of the 19th Division, two policeman and a civilian. The strikes came after some 10+ rockets, fired by unknown people, had hit the joint base Camp Tali and had killed 2 U.S. and one British soldiers.

Today the U.S. received the revenge for its strikes.

The U.S. Central Command had argued that the “defensive precision strike” against the five sites created deterrence i.e. they would prevent other attacks:

We believe that this is going to have an effect on deterring — on deterring future strikes of this nature. We’ve seen in the past what happens when you don’t respond. Now people know that we’re not going to — we’re not going to tolerate these direct attacks on American or coalition service members, and we’re willing and able to respond.

Even hawkish analysts find that the argument is nonsense.

The U.S. claims that the group Kataib Hezbollah, part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and under command of the Iraqi government, fired the missiles. But the positions the U.S. hit were not Kataib Hezbollah positions. U.S. intelligence in Iraq is not up to date with regards to where Kataib Hezbollah units or those of the other 20+ PMU groups are stationed.

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Why Is The U.S. Launching A New War On Iraq? by Moon of Alabama

We know the neocons dream of a US war against Iran, but now the US is quietly waging war against Iraq. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.com:

On January 3 the U.S. assassinated the Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani and the deputy chairman of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al Muhandis near the airport of Baghdad. In response to the infraction of Iraq’s sovereignty the parliament voted to evict all U.S. and coalition forces from Iraq. The U.S. rejected the request to leave.

On March 11, the birthday of Qassem Suleimani, unknown guerilla fired 18 Katyusha rockets against a joint base at Camp Taji, about 17 miles north of Baghdad. Two U.S. and one British soldiers were killed by the strike and twelve others were wounded.

Only hours later the U.S., or one of its allies, responded by striking ten targets near Bukamal with drones. Bukamal is a border crossing where Iraqi units aligned with Iran are guarding the Syrian-Iraqi border. While some sources claimed that 18 people were killed in those strikes others denied that there were any casualties.

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The Syria Deception, Understanding the geopolitical and psychological war against Syria. From Swiss Propaganda Research

The US and its European lap dogs have wanted to get rid of the Syrian government since the 1940s. From Swiss Propaganda Research at swprs.org:

What is the Syria war about?

Contrary to the depiction in Western media, the Syria war is not a civil war. This is because the initiators, financiers and a large part of the anti-government fighters come from abroad.

Nor is the Syria war a religious war, for Syria was and still is one of the most secular countries in the region, and the Syrian army – like its direct opponents – is itself mainly composed of Sunnis.

But the Syria war is also not a pipeline war, as some critics suspected, because the allegedly competing gas pipeline projects never existed to begin with, as even the Syrian president confirmed.

Instead, the Syria war is a war of conquest and regime change, which developed into a geopolitical proxy war between NATO states on one side – especially the US, Great Britain and France – and Russia, Iran, and China on the other side.

In fact, already since the 1940s the US has repeatedly attempted to install a pro-Western government in Syria, such as in 1949, 1956, 1957, after 1980 and after 2003, but without success so far. This makes Syria – since the fall of Libya – the last Mediterranean country independent of NATO.

Thus, in the course of the „Arab Spring“ of 2011, NATO and its allies, especially Israel and the Gulf States, decided to try again. To this end, politically and economically motivated protests in Syria were leveraged and were quickly escalated into an armed conflict.

NATO’s original strategy of 2011 was based on the Afghanistan war of the 1980s and aimed at conquering Syria mainly through positively portrayed Islamist militias (so-called „rebels“). This did not succeed, however, because the militias lacked an air force and anti-aircraft missiles.

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