Tag Archives: Middle East

Iran May Be the Only Winner in Iraq, by Philip Giraldi

Nobody has been a bigger beneficiary of the US’s Middle East misadventures than Iran. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:

Intelligence documents reveal how Tehran took advantage of US blundering

The American invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of that nation’s government in 2003 has rightly been described as the greatest foreign policy disaster in the history of the United States. Eight thousand one hundred and seventy five American soldiers, contractors and civilians have died in Iraq since 2003 as well as an estimated 300,000 Iraqis. By some more expansive estimates the so-called “global war on terror,” of which Iraq was the major component, may have directly killed 801,000, of which at least 335,000 were civilians. Other estimates indicate that the total dead from collateral causes, to include disease and starvation, could exceed 3 million, overwhelmingly Muslims.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq alone have also cost, according to the same Brown University study, an estimated $6.4 trillion and still counting as the money to pay for it was borrowed.

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The Trump Doctrine Demands a Democratic Response, by Danny Sjursen

Trump’s actual foreign policy, as opposed to his bombast, is virtually no departure from the policies of his predecessors. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

I’ve been publishing antiwar material for more than five years now. Seeing as I only retired this past February, I did most of my dissenting while still on active duty, and much of it during the Obama years. During that time, the overwhelming majority of hate mail in my inbox – and sometimes my actual mailbox – almost always came from the political right. Then Trump was elected, occasionally said some modestly prudent things about ending endless war in the Middle East, and when I dared write approvingly about those words, my hate mail began to change. Now it invariably emerges from the mainstream “left,” my own ostensibly ideological compatriots. (More on this phenomenon in my Nov. 6 column at Antiwar.com). Now, despite spending almost all of my adult life in uniform, I’m labeled a “Putin apologist,” a “traitor,” an “asset” and a “useful idiot.”

It’s ironic; maddeningly so, in fact. A cursory glance at my body of work since January 2017 reveals a consistent propensity to challenge this president. Nonetheless, I’ve felt of late a professional, and ethical, obligation to occasionally (if cautiously) cheer Trump’s more prudent critiques of the forever wars I once waged. My more thoughtful critics note that all that Trump-talk hasn’t been backed by much follow-through, and they ain’t wrong. As I’ve been long apt to point out, the distance between Trump’s anti-interventionist “rhetoric” and his actual actions in the greater Middle East remains, for now, wide enough to drive a semi-truck through.

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The Blob: Still Chasing After Pax Americana, by Andrew Bacevich

The blob’s prescription for the Middle East was the same as it was for Vietnam: fail harder! From Andrew Bacevich at theamericanconservative.com:

After all the failure, they still look at our wars in the Middle East as some kind of golden age.

Credit: U.S. Air Force/Flickr

I wish to call attention to an instructive essay about U.S. policy in the Middle East—instructive in the sense that it reveals the utterly impoverished nature of establishment thinking on this subject. The title of the essay is “The US Has One Last Chance to Halt Its Withdrawal from the Middle East.” The author is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, who shall remain nameless since I bear him no ill will. Let us refer to him simply as X, in honor of George Kennan, author of a famous 1947 essay offering counsel on how to deal with the Soviet Union. Kennan published that essay under the pseudonym X. And so shall I refer to the author of “One Last Chance.”

Kennan’s purpose was to sound the alarm regarding the Soviet threat and to propose what came to be called the strategy of Containment. The purpose of our present-day Mr. X is to sound the alarm about the United States lowering its profile in the Middle East. To avert that prospect, he proposes what can only be termed a strategy of staying-the-course-while-ignoring-the-facts.

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Turkey’s Other Weapon Against the Kurds: Water, by Alexandra Marvar

Turkey is upstream on a couple of the Middle East’s most important rivers. This gives Turkey leverage. From Alexandra Marvar at thenation.com:

In times of conflict, war, and climate change, hydropower is state power.


The Ilisu Dam in Turkey is set to inundate Hasankeyf, a 12,000-year-old Kurdish heritage site with untold archaeological value. (Alexandra Marvar)

Since the early 2000s, a massive hydropower project in southeastern Turkey has been mired in controversy, moving forward in fits and starts. But as of this past July, construction is finally complete. As the dam and its reservoir become fully operational, the line between hydropower and state power will be washed away. This fall, the violence that followed a sudden, destabilizing withdrawal of US troops from nearby northern Syria captured the world’s attention as it cleared the path for Turkey’s military to dominate the Kurdish opposition.

Meanwhile, the water slowly rising behind the 442-foot-high, more-than-a-mile-wide wall of the Ilisu Dam across the Tigris River is a less overt sign of that same determination.

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Trump’s Antiwar Speech Deserved a Better Reception, by Danny Sjursen

Once in a while Trump sounds like an unrepentant non-interventionist. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

That’s right, sandwiched between Trump’s standard braggadocio about how he single-handedly secured “a better future for Syria and for the Middle East,” and his cynical pivot to decry his opponents’ supposed desire to accept “unlimited migration from war-torn regions” across the U.S. border, was one of the strongest blasts of antiwar rhetoric delivered by a sitting U.S. president since Dwight Eisenhower.

If any other president—think Obama—or major liberal political figure had spoken so clearly against endless war and so poignantly diagnosed the current American disease of military hyper-interventionism, CNN and MSNBC would’ve gushed about Nobel Peace Prizes. It must be said, of course, that Trump has hardly governed according to these peacenik proclamations—he has, after all added more troops in the region, especially in Saudi Arabia, and merely reshuffled the soldiers from Syria across the border to Iraq. Nevertheless, even if the president’s actions don’t match his words, the words themselves remain important, especially from a 21st century, post-9/11 commander in chief.

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Imperial Capital but America-First Nation, by Patrick J. Buchanan

Many Americans grew weary of its government’s interventions long ago. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

“Let someone else fight over this long blood-stained sand,” said President Donald Trump in an impassioned defense of his decision to cut ties to the Syrian Kurds, withdraw and end these “endless wars.”

Are our troops in Syria, then, on their way home? Well, not exactly.

Those leaving northern Syria went into Iraq. Other U.S. soldiers will stay in Syria to guard oil wells that we and the Kurds captured in the war with ISIS. Another 150 U.S. troops will remain in al-Tanf to guard Syria’s border with Iraq, at the request of Jordan and Israel.

And 2,000 more U.S. troops are being sent to Saudi Arabia to help defend the kingdom from Iran, which raises a question: Are we coming or going?

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Do or Daesh, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Here is a view of the Turkey-Syria-Kurd situation 180 degrees opposite Ron Paul’s:

An article from long term Automatic Earth contributor Alexander Aston, who feels very strongly about the topic.

Personally, I have many more questions left. It’s easy to say Trump abandoned the Kurds, and everybody says just that, but because they all do I ask myself if that is really what happened. It’s an ugly situation alright, but would it have been prefereable if US soldiers had stayed in Syria indefinitely?

I’m looking at France, UK, Germany, Holland, refusing to repatriate ‘their’ ISIS citizens, leaving the US -and the Kurds- to take care of them, of the conundrum, and of the consequences. There’s no question that leaving it up to Erdogan is a bad idea, but Putin has already taken over command.

Everyone but Capitol Hill agrees it’s a good idea to get the US out of Endless Wars, but they haven’t been doing anything about it for many years. And when Trump does, there are no intricate discussions, there’s only black or white and then there’s Orange Man Bad.

Should Trump have gone the Obama route and bombed the heebeejeebees out of the country? you know, rather than let Turkey do it, knowing full well that Putin would stop it anyway?

But this is Alexander’s piece, not mine, and I love him.

Alexander Aston:

“If we do not do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable.”
– Murray Bookchin


Like the best of his generation, my American grandfather was a die-hard antifascist. He was shot down twice over Europe and spent the last nine months as a prisoner of war. The old man was highly decorated, earning a distinguished flying cross with three oak leaf clusters, four air medals, a silver star and a purple heart. However, the only memento of the war he ever showed me as a child was the tin mug that he ate from while in prison camp.

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