Since Bush persuaded Congress and the American people in 2003 that an appropriate response to 9/11 somehow was an invasion of Iraq, that country’s stability has been undermined by the U.S.; and it is now ripe for the sectarian violence that is devouring it. The stated purpose of the Iraq war was to root out weapons of mass destruction, which we now know did not exist there. Then the stated purpose became regime change because Saddam tried to kill the elder President Bush. The other stated purpose of the war was our thoughtless embrace of the fanciful Bush doctrine, which was basically the re-branding of the discredited Wilsonian nonsense that we can use force to spread democracy.
That, too, failed profoundly. In the process, 5,000 Americans died; 45,000 Americans were injured; 650,000 Iraqis died; 2,000,000 Iraqis fled the country; a half-trillion dollars in Iraqi assets were destroyed; and we borrowed a trillion dollars to invade and occupy Iraq (and another trillion to invade and occupy Afghanistan), which we still owe to the people who loaned it to us. Al-Qaida, which was not present in Iraq before 2003, is now openly there along with ISIS, its sister organization that is about to conquer the most politically important parts of the country.
America is no safer because of the Iraq war, but we are weaker. Our relationships among the people in the Middle East are far less sanguine; we have planted three generations’ worth of hatred, distrust, and lust for vengeance among Middle Eastern youth; and we have a crushing war debt. We also have American cash and military hardware, including expensive and lethal Stinger missiles, now in the hands of ISIS.
We are witnessing the contemporary incarnation of the old Sunni/Shia/Kurd rivalry that has persisted in what is today called Iraq for 1,000 years, and will persist until the country returns to its pre-modern sectarian borders–and each ancient group has its own land.
There is no bona fide American national security interest in jeopardy because of the persistent Iraqi civil war, and we have no lawful right to choose a side and assist it militarily. But the American military-industrial-neocon complex wants more war. We must resist them. We should gather all Americans in Iraq, take what movable wealth is ours, and come home — and stop searching the world for monsters to destroy, as that will end up destroying us.
COPYRIGHT 2014 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO
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Photo credit: The U.S. Army (Flickr)
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