Tag Archives: Iraq

After 18 Years, Bring Home America’s Troops from Iraq, by Doug Bandow

Unlike in Afghanistan, the government didn’t even have the excuse that there was a prominent terrorist 9/11 mastermind hiding in Iraq to justify its regime change operation. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

President Joe Biden plans to keep U.S. forces in Iraq but out of combat, he hopes. At least that is what he said after representatives of the two governments met Monday in the latest “strategic dialogue.” Americans and Iraqis alike are still paying the price for George W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq.

The Islamic State, which overran much of the country only a few years ago, has been defeated. It remains a threat, but one that Iraqis can contain. The continuing divisions within Iraqi society pose a greater challenge to Baghdad. Although nominally at peace, Iraq is riven by sectarianism, violence, and corruption, which have inflamed popular frustration and anger, especially among the young, who are desperate for a better future.

Unfortunately, outside powers exacerbate internal problems. Geography and religion enhance the influence of Iran, which supports well-armed militias in Iraq. They operate outside of Baghdad’s control and today direct much of their fire at US forces.

Although more distant, Washington has acted even more imperiously and recklessly. The Reagan administration supported Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, providing naval protection for oil shipments used to fund his murderous aggression against Iran. However, his 1990 attack on Kuwait turned Washington against him, leading to the first Gulf War. Then Bush used 9/11 as an excuse to invade Iraq. His claim that Baghdad possessed nuclear weapons was false, a striking pastiche of lies and misstatements, highlighted by calculated falsehoods from Ahmed Chalabi, a U.S.-subsidized expatriate who dreamed of seizing Iraq’s presidency.

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Manufactured Mission: The Iraq & Syria Forever War-Factories, by Danny Sjursen

The US government has perfected the art of never-ending wars conducted for the benefit of the defense industry and the government’s defense bureaucracies. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

It is by now a near cliché in defense-watcher circles to talk about the common peril of “mission creep” in military interventions. Naturally, that’s not translated to America avoiding this tendency – of gradually shifting objectives during the course military missions, until stuck in unplanned long-term quagmires – very much at all. Nevertheless, as if it wasn’t ridiculously obvious enough, the Biden Administration’s Sunday night bombings of allegedly Iranian-backed militia sites in Syria and Iraq illustrate that what’s been unfolding on those adventures is more mission-manufacture than creep.

Almost all mainstream media articles or reports describe the latest strikes as retaliatory responses to rocket or drone strikes on US military bases in one or both countries, and refer to the alleged Iraqi or Syrian culprits as “Iranian-backed.” Seriously, like every time. In so doing, the establishment press uncritically – and one suspects, in many cases, willfully – accepts the US Government’s line and denies any agency (and legitimacy, grievances, or outright identity) to the numerous, diverse, and complex Iraqi and Syrian resistance groups actually doing the shooting. Most reporting on such bombings also offers the impression that these missions – if not the world – began yesterday, omitting almost all backstory, context, or nuance.

The absence of these three critical elements of any effective analysis is, of course, rather convenient for a Washington establishment which would otherwise have its initial illegalities, dissembling justifications, senseless strategies, and inherent indecencies in two wars they’ve championed comprehensively exposed. Overall, it’s the utter ignorance – willful or otherwise – currently characterizing America’s Iraq and Syria policies that’s truly striking. More troubling, though, is the public apathy enabling the nefarious pundit-politician nexus to continue the killing – this, perhaps befitting a nation finally gone mad on the narcotic of responsibility-free forever wars.

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US Again Bombs Nations On Other Side Of The World In “Self-Defense”, by Caitlin Johnstone

The US government and military would at least cut down on the well-earned contempt directed towards them if they just did what they were going to do without offering any bullshit explanations or justifications. You earn no respect when you treat people like idiots. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The US is again illegally bombing nations on the other side of the planet which it has invaded and occupied and branded this murderous aggression as “defensive”.

“At President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region,” reads a statement by Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby. “The targets were selected because these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq. Specifically, the U.S. strikes targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq, both of which lie close to the border between those countries.”

Even more absurd than the fact that we’re all still pretending this clearly dementia-addled president is “directing” anything is the claim that these actions were “defensive” in nature. It is not possible for occupying invaders to be acting defensively in the nations they are occupying an invading; US troops are only in Iraq by way of an illegal 2003 invasion, a bogus 2014 re-entry, and a refusal to leave at the Iraqi government’s request last year, and they are in Syria illegally and without the permission of the Syrian government. They can therefore only ever be aggressors; they cannot be acting defensively.

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Were the Wars Wise? Were They Worth It? by Patrick J. Buchanan

Very little about US warmaking since World War II can be considered wise or worthwhile. From Patrick J. Buchanan at lewrockwell.com:

Through the long Memorial Day weekend, anyone who read the newspapers or watched television could not miss or be unmoved by it: Story after story after story of the fallen, of those who had given the “last full measure of devotion” to their country.

Heart-rending is an apt description of those stories; and searing are the videos of those who survived and returned home without arms or legs.

But the stories could not help but bring questions to mind.

While the service and sacrifice were always honorable and often heroic, never to be forgotten, were the wars these soldiers were sent to fight and die in wise? Were they necessary?

What became of the causes for which these Americans were sent to fight in the new century, with thousands to die and tens of thousands to come home with permanent wounds?

And what became of the causes for which they were sent to fight?

The longest war of this new century, the longest in our history, the defining “endless war” or “forever war” was Afghanistan.

In 2001, we sent an army halfway around the world to exact retribution on al-Qaida for 9/11, an attack that rivaled Pearl Harbor in the numbers of dead and wounded Americans.

Because al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden had been given sanctuary by the Taliban in Kabul, who refused to give him up, we invaded, overthrew that Islamist regime and cleansed Tora Bora of al-Qaida.

Mission accomplished. But then the mission changed.

In control of a land that had seen off British and Soviet imperialists, we hubristically set about establishing a democracy and sent hundreds of thousands of Americans to hold off the rebel resistance for two decades while we went about nation-building.

We did not succeed. All U.S. troops are to be gone by the 20th anniversary of 9/11. And the Taliban we ousted has never been closer to recapturing power in Kabul.

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Why The Main Argument Against Withdrawing US Troops Is Bogus, by Caitlin Johnstone

Maybe the Middle East can manage its own affairs. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

Former National Security Advisor and literal psychopath John Bolton has a new opinion piece out in Foreign Policy titled “‘Bring the Troops Home’ Is a Dream, Not a Strategy“, which should surprise no one and enrage everyone at the same time. The fact that this reptile continues to be elevated on mainstream platforms after consistently revealing himself to be a bloodthirsty liar is all the evidence you need that we are trapped inside a globe-spanning empire fueled by human corpses.

John Bolton has pushed for deranged acts of mass military slaughter at every opportunity. He not only remains one of the only people in the world to continually insist that the Iraq invasion was a great idea, but has actually argued that the destabilization and chaos caused by the invasion cannot be attributed to Bush’s war because you can’t prove that “everything that followed from the fall of Saddam Hussein followed inevitably, solely, and unalterably from the decision to overthrow him.” There are harrowing accounts of Bolton threatening, assaulting and intimidating anyone with less power than him if they got in his way; he once threatened to harm the children of former OPCW Director General Jose Bustani because Bustani was interfering in attempts to manufacture consent for the Iraq war.

In an even remotely sane civilization, such a creature would be driven from every town he entered until he is forced to crawl into a cave for the rest of his miserable life eating bats alone in the darkness. Instead he is given the mainstream spotlight whenever he wishes while truthful and intelligent anti-imperialists are relegated to fringe blogs and podcasts. This would not be the case if we did not live in an empire that is held together by war and war propaganda.

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The United States Has Declared Defeat in Two More Wars, by Ryan McMaken

The US military is pulling back from Afghanistan and Iraq after achieving none of its stated objectives in those two countries. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

President Biden announced last week that he planned to remove all combat troops from Afghanistan by September, which he says will mark the end of what is now a twenty-year war in the central Asian country.

A week earlier, the US and Iraq reaffirmed a deal to withdraw “any remaining combat forces” from Iraq, and to further wind down the US involvement there, which dates back to the 2003 invasion.

In both cases, of course, the stated plans to end military intervention have been framed in polite language designed to make it look like the US is leaving on its own terms—and also to allow the US regime some level of plausibility when it claims “mission accomplished.”

In reality, of course, both Iraq and Afghanistan are just two more wars that the United States has lost in a long list of botched military interventions dating back to Vietnam and Korea. Moreover, these withdrawals signal the US’s continued geopolitical decline in a world that is becoming multipolar and highly motivated to bring to a final end the US’s vanishing “unipolar moment.”

But what exactly do we mean by “lost” in this context? Well, by the standards of the objectives presented by the US regime itself when these wars began, these wars are complete failures.

For example, we were told Iraq and Afghanistan would become “democracies” where Western-style human rights are protected and valued. That was the humanitarian justification.

We were also told these countries would become reliable allies of the United States, sort of like Germany or Japan. That was the geopolitical justification.

The US has failed on both fronts.

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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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