Friday, June 13, 2014

Dumb then; dumb now. Just don't do it, Mr. President


ERBIL, IRAQ - JUNE 12: Iraqi fleeing violence arrive in a makeshift camp at a Kurdish checkpoint in Kalak after the city of Mosul and Kirkuk were overrun by ISIS militants. June 12, 2014. By: Sebastiano Tomada

Yes, Iraq is going to hell in a handbasket as my mother would have said. That means Iraqis are once again on the move, running for their lives while men and boys with guns shoot their way through their homes.

And political pressure on the Prez might very well succeed in getting him to do something stupid. The NYT reports:

Recognizing what one official described as an “urgent emergency situation,” President Obama and his aides moved on multiple fronts. A senior official said the president was actively considering American airstrikes against the militant groups. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. telephoned Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to express American support. And Pentagon officials briefed lawmakers about what one senator later described as a “grave situation.”

This president has sometimes showed that he understands the irrefutable truth of the present moment:

This is painfully hard for Americans to accept, but sometimes you can't just send in the Marines.

Thanks Kevin Drum. Hang on to that thought, Mr. President.

Tom Ricks, a longtime military columnist now blogging at Foreign Policy, writes something I can relate to in my own way:

I am sitting here thinking that with the fall of Mosul, I feel like I should write something. But I also feel like: damn it, I have nothing more to say about it. This comes after about 12 years of writing about it constantly, first a couple of thousand news articles and then in two books. I don't feel grieved by this. More, I just feel numb.

I spent the better part of a decade, both before the U.S. invasion and afterward, building a popular movement against this devastating crime of empire. Before the invasion, we knew it was both morally wrong and practically stupid; once Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld and all got their way, it turned out to be even more futile, vicious and shameful than we'd even imagined. Owen Jones, in the Guardian, which opposed the Iraq invasion from the get-go, catches something of what many of us must feel:

... disaster seemed inevitable to so many people. ... In a way, opponents of the war were wrong. We were wrong because however disastrous we thought the consequences of the Iraq war, the reality has been worse. The US massacres in Fallujah in the immediate aftermath of the war, which helped radicalise the Sunni population, culminating in an assault on the city with white phosphorus. The beheadings, the kidnappings and hostage videos, the car bombs, the IEDs, the Sunni and Shia insurgencies, the torture declared by the UN in 2006 to be worse than that under Saddam Hussein, the bodies with their hands and feet bound and dumped in rivers, the escalating sectarian slaughter, the millions of displaced civilians, and the hundreds of thousands who died: it has been one never-ending blur of horror since 2003.

He doesn't even mention U.S. adoption of torture as a routine practice in the "war on terror" and occupation of Iraq.

What is revealed in this moment is what too few of us in the United States ever understood: after World War I, Europe drew boundaries and created states in the terrain of the former Ottoman Empire that have never achieved legitimacy with their own populations. By overthrowing Saddam Hussein, the U.S. knocked over one of the (terrible) dominoes that held up what regional stability existed. Everything else follows. That is no reason to go tromping back into further endless war.

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