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America Should Stay out of Iraq's Revived Killfest: Only Iraqis Can Save Their Country

June 23, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The uber-hawks and neocons like Richard Cheney who led America into the disastrous invasion of Iraq are campaigning for a repeat. If only the U.S. will go to war along the Euphrates a second time, they promise, everything will turn out well.

Americans should ignore these Sirens of Death. Attempting to forcibly transform Iraq never was Washington’s responsibility. Having botched the job once, U.S. policymakers should not try again. There certainly is no public support for new military adventures in Mesopotamia.

There was much to despise about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. He was a murderous thug with outsize ambitions, but he helped constrain Iran, America’s and Israel’s more feared nemesis. Hussein also enforced an ugly stability at home: he held his fractured country together, suppressed sectarian violence, allowed Christians and other religious minorities to live in peace, and kept al-Qaeda out of areas under his control.

As many analysts, including yours truly, warned, his forced departure would be welcome in principle but bloody in practice. Thousands of Americans killed, tens of thousands of wounded, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, millions displaced, historic Christian communities ravaged, triumphant Shiites wielding a sectarian state against angry Sunnis, bitter conflict spawning violent jihadists, cities acting as terrorist training camps, and metastasizing Iranian influence. Such is George W. Bush’s legacy.

Yet he found little gratitude in Baghdad for Americans’ sacrifice. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ruled with a harsh hand, favored his Shia supporters, and rejected a permanent U.S. military garrison. President Barack Obama achieved no more success in dealing with Maliki. Attempting to force a permanent U.S. presence would have created popular resentment, put Washington’s imprimatur on an authoritarian, corrupt regime, and turned American military personnel into targets of angry mobs and trained terrorists.

The Middle East appears to be a tragedy permanently set on repeat.”

Nor would a U.S. garrison have saved Iraq from internal collapse. American troops could not have forced positive political change.  Washington’s only leverage would come from threatening to withdraw its forces—which Maliki almost certainly would have accepted before relaxing control. Employing U.S. troops against Baghdad’s opponents, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and other Sunni extremists, would have been far worse. Eight years of war and occupation was enough. America had no obligation to safeguard the artificial Iraqi state and preserve incompetent sectarian rule forever.

Washington nevertheless helped arm the Iraqi military, but a secret program begun last …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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