Thursday, August 07, 2014

Back to Iraq

After having praised Obama's Middle East policy for slowly gaining some diplomatic space in US relations with Israel, I'm still worried about the drift of policy.

Once again, the US is basically in the position of being seen by the whole world as supporting a blatantly disproportional and brutal war by Israel against the civilians of Gaza.

Now he's going back to making war on Iraq. (Anita Kumar, Obama announces targeted airstrikes, humanitarian aid in Iraq McClatchy Newspapers 08/07/2014)

After the Gulf War of 1991, the US and Britain maintained a no-fly zone and a severe set of economic sanctions against Iraq. That continuing involvement eventually led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And now in 2014, 23 years after the 1991 war, we're getting directly involved in a war there again.

Maybe our policymakers and Presidents and Congress should really think these things through before they invade or bomb other countries. Maybe the oaths of office for all of them should include, "It's a hell of a lot easier to get into a war than to get out of one."

Kumar reports:

President Barack Obama announced late Thursday that he had ordered targeted airstrikes in Iraq as well as a drop of meals and water to thousands of Iraqi citizens trapped by Islamic militants on a mountain top in norther Iraq.

"Today America is coming to help," Obama said.

In brief remarks from the State Dining Room, Obama acknowledged that some Americans are concerned about any military act in Iraq, but that he could not sit back while the United States was uniquely positioned to help.
I wonder how many people in Iraq think "Today America is coming to help" sounds like good news.

Stephen Walt has a good point, as he usually does, in Do No (More) Harm Foreign Policy 08/08/2014, describing the current state of the Middle East after all the Help we've been providing there for the last 23 years with out freedom bombs:

States like Qatar and Bahrain do provide valuable real estate for U.S. bases, and many of these governments cooperate with the United States out of their own self-interest, but it's hard to find anyone in the region that looks like a genuine strategic or moral asset these days. ...

Here's where Americans need to remember the United States may have permanent interests in the Middle East, but not necessarily permanent friends. In terms of its strategic interests, the central U.S. goal since World War II has been to prevent any single power from dominating the oil rich Persian Gulf. However troubled we may be by all the divisions and quarrels in the region, those conflicts also make the possibility that one power will dominate the region more remote than ever. Does anyone seriously think Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS), the Kurds, Russia, Turkey, China or anyone else is going to take over and manage this vast and turbulent area, and smooth out all these rifts and feuds? Of course not. And if that is the case, then America's primary strategic goal will be met whether Washington lifts a finger or not. ...

In any case, the results of a different approach could hardly be worse than what the United States has managed to achieve over the past twenty-plus years. Unless Americans have a masochistic addiction to disappointment, this seems like an ideal time for a more fundamental rethink.
But why think when you can do some more bombing? What could go wrong? Actually, Walt's article lists the high points of what has been going wrong.


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