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Commentary :: War and Militarism
8 Things to Know About the Iraq Crisis
19 Aug 2014
We have options to support the people of Iraq, as well as tackle this crisis in a way that reflects America’s best interests and 21st century realities. For one, the U.S. can work through the United Nations and other multilateral organizations to support a major global diplomatic initiative
8 things to know about the Iraq crisis
By Anna Galland. Thursday, August 14 2014

U.S. bombing strikes are now well under way in Iraq in a military mission that President Obama said could go on for months.1 U.S. military planes have also been delivering vital humanitarian assistance to civilians fleeing the violence, including Yazidis who were forced onto Iraq’s Mount Sinjar by ISIS militants laying siege on the mountain.2

MoveOn members across the country have weighed in with thoughts on what’s happening in Iraq. There are varying opinions on different aspects of this crisis, but there are some common threads. Our hearts break for the people of Iraq who are living through this conflict. We know there are no simple solutions. And we’re united in our opposition to America sliding down the slippery slope to another war in Iraq.

As we all try to make sense of the events that are unfolding, here are eight things that you should know about the Iraq crisis.

Please read on and then share the list on Facebook, Twitter, or by emailing your friends. It’s vital that we engage the country in a conversation about the U.S. role in Iraq.

8 Things to Know about the Iraq Crisis

1. Right-wing war hawks are pushing for another full-blown war in Iraq.

Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, other Republicans in Congress, and right-wing figures—who blindly led America into invading and occupying Iraq—are now demanding more military action that could drag us back into full-scale war in the region.3,4,5

2. The slippery slope is real.

Mission creep can too easily occur—along with unintended consequences and new problems created by the use of U.S. military force.6,7 History shows us that many big wars start out looking small, including the Korean War and the Vietnam War.8 And we are now dealing with a prime example of unintended consequences: Bush’s war of choice and military occupation of Iraq set the stage for Iraq’s troubles today, including the rise of ISIS.9,10,11,12

3. Voters elected President Obama to end the Iraq war that George W. Bush recklessly started.

President Obama’s opposition to the Iraq war before it began and his pledge to end it—as part of the contrast between him and those who pushed for war—were key to his success in both the Democratic primary election and the general election in 2008.13 He continues to pledge that he “will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.”14,15

4. Ultimately, Iraq’s problems can be solved only by an Iraqi-led political solution.

President Obama has said that there is no military solution to the crisis in Iraq and that there can only be “an Iraqi solution.”16 As this explainer lays out:

“ISIS isn’t just a terrorist group rampaging through Iraq (though they definitely are that). It’s in many ways an expression of the Sunni Muslim minority’s anger at the Shia-dominated government. . . Some Sunni grievances get to more fundamental issues within the Iraqi state itself, beyond what even a better government could easily fix.”17

These are not problems that more U.S. bombings can solve. That’s why experts are saying that “any lasting solution has to be regional in nature and must address the political interests of all the major factions in an equitable and inclusive manner.”18

5. Members of Congress, including Democratic lawmakers, are insisting that the president come to Congress for authorization.

MoveOn members have long opposed endless war in Iraq. Earlier this summer, before the current bombing strikes began, MoveOn members made more than 15,000 calls to lawmakers, urging them to oppose U.S. military intervention in Iraq. In July, the House of Representatives listened to them and the rest of the American people to require, by a bipartisan vote of 370-40, the president to seek congressional authorization before deploying or maintaining a sustained combat role in Iraq.19 Congress should continue to assert its authority under the Constitution to authorize and oversee U.S. commitments to open-ended war overseas.

6. The Middle East is a complicated place where U.S. military intervention has a troubling track record.

The Middle East has many armed actors whose motivations often compete with each other and conflict with American values, and U.S. military intervention there has a track record of often making things worse.20,21 One tragic absurdity of this moment is that the U.S. military is now using U.S. equipment to bomb U.S. weapons wielded by enemies the U.S. didn’t intend to arm against the U.S. and U.S. allies.22 That’s a good reason to be concerned about the U.S. arming rebels in nearby Syria, which experts say wouldn’t have stopped the rise of ISIS anyway.23 Experts further warn that U.S. military force in the region only tends to create more problems, including the risk of terrorist retaliation.24

7. Military action could lead to even more innocent civilians getting caught in the crossfire and suffering.

The Iraq war that Bush started didn’t just cost America the lives of nearly 4,500 service members, plus $2 trillion according to modest estimates.25,26,27 Approximately 500,000 Iraqi civilians also died in the armed conflict—possibly more.28 In the current conflict, ISIS militants are persecuting various minority populations of Iraq, such as the Yazidis who had fled to Mount Sinjar.29 Escalating military action, including drone strikes, risks catching more civilians in the crossfire.30

8. Opposing endless war isn’t the same as being an isolationist. The Iraq crisis, including the humanitarian disaster, demands an international, diplomatic response.

We have options to support the people of Iraq, as well as tackle this crisis in a way that reflects America’s best interests and 21st century realities. For one, the U.S. can work through the United Nations and other multilateral organizations to support a major global diplomatic initiative.31 In the face of the current crisis, the Friends Committee on National Legislation also recommends a number of steps instead of U.S. bombings, such as working with other nations through the United Nations to organize humanitarian evacuations of stranded and trapped civilians, pressing for and upholding an arms embargo in Iraq and Syria, engaging with the UN to reinvigorate efforts for a lasting political solution for Iraq and Syria, and increasing humanitarian aid.32,33



It’s critically important that we engage the nation in conversation and debate to avoid endless war in Iraq. Can you share this “8 Things to Know about the Iraq Crisis” list with your family and friends? Use the links at the top and bottom of this page.

Sources:

1. “Iraq Airstrikes May Continue for Months, Obama Says,” The New York Times, August 9, 2014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/world/middleeast/iraq.html
See also:
http://www.freembtranslations.net
http://www.therealnews.com

This work is in the public domain
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Iraq
19 Aug 2014
Click on image for a larger version

iraq is.jpg
Imperial Course Uncorrected “Finishing the Job” in Iraq by ROB URIE

There is a child-like quality to the American political psyche that against all history and reason believes fairy stories against the savage misery the U.S. creates. Just how plausible is it that the same bombs being used by Israel to slaughter innocents in Gaza are now being dropped to protect innocents in Iraq? By official logic shouldn’t the U.S. be bombing IDF (Israeli Defense Force) positions to end the slaughter in Gaza? And who is it threatening innocents in Iraq? It is in fair measure the very same army being armed and trained as ‘freedom fighters’ by the U.S. across the Iraq border in Syria. The capacity to reconcile renewed ‘humanitarian’ bombing in Iraq with the wholesale slaughter of innocents in Gaza stretches cognitive dissonance to the breaking point.

The back-story sold domestically in support of repeated U.S. political and military incursions across the Middle East, that oil is a ‘strategic resource’ worthy of ‘sacrifice’ in terms of engineered slaughter, chaos and misery, hasn’t been given a reality check in recent history. Just because multi-national oil companies and their political lapdogs in Washington and London say it’s so doesn’t make it so. There has been no serious effort in the U.S. to conserve this ‘strategic resource’ since Jimmy Carter occupied the White House (1980). And global warming is evidence of the exponentially increasing cost, otherwise framed as radical un-sustainability, of oil and gas dependence. Taken together, U.S., British and European machinations across the Middle East (and now Ukraine) appear as end-of-empire flailing about to maintain imperial prerogative— the ‘lifestyles’ of the West, at all costs. But with the global environment pushing back, if not breaking, ongoing Western actions in the Middle East are ultimately futile against the inevitability of either substantially reducing fossil fuel usage or ending the planet.

The hold that multi-national oil companies have on the foreign policies of the West ties to the breadth of engineered dependencies that support these economies. Following Jimmy Carter’s energy conservation efforts in the late 1970s Ronald Reagan appointed James Watt, who publicly mocked Mr. Carter’s efforts, to be Secretary of the Interior. Only a decade ago George W. Bush and former oil company executives in his administration gave tax breaks to encourage people to buy gas-guzzling cars. The automakers responded by manufacturing millions of gas-guzzlers under the misdirection that subsidy driven demand represented what people ‘wanted.’

The facts of Western capitalism have it that energy companies benefit from energy dependence, automakers benefit from car dependence, utility companies benefit from gas and electricity dependence and the providers of goods and services benefit from dependence on their goods and services. In the U.S. the corporate-state nexus has spent the last century embedding these dependencies into Western political economy.

There is nothing ‘natural’ about them, no foundation to be found in human wants. Conversely, the contrived misdirection that they are could be put to the test: Western political leadership could forgo war mongering and directly solicit volunteers to fight wars for oil— what they claim we ‘want,’ if they believe differently.

The grotesqueness of Bush administration officials sneeringly pushing tax cuts for gas-guzzling cars at the very time they were launching a murderous war against oil-rich Iraq suggests that those who supported the effort well deserve whatever resulting misfortune might come their way. As providence has it, Mr. Bush likely launched the last large-scale U.S. land war in the Middle East. U.S. funding and development of al Qaeda in the 1970s and 1980s could have taught that proxy militaries have a propensity to eventually fight their own battles. Through the CIA current U.S. President Barack Obama funded and developed the Syrian opposition that has now morphed into Islamic State. This leaves al Qaeda, Islamic State, neo-Nazi thugs in Ukraine and a few remaining dictators as the residual representatives of U.S. foreign policy in current U.S. conflicts. Lest this seem less than evident, while the U.S. undoubtedly ‘deserves’ these ‘partners,’ they aren’t likely to (mis)represent U.S. interests as enthusiastically as sequential U.S. Presidents and militaries have (mis)represented them.

Apparently unbeknownst to Mr. Obama and the rest of the U.S. political leadership is that it’s only in American history books that the U.S. ‘won’ WWII— the rest of the world knows better. Whatever geopolitical predominance the U.S. has had has required coalitions that aren’t likely to be found to launch conspicuous wars of aggression. Over the last two decades NATO has put a stranglehold on Russia that has left little room for additional acquiescence. The European members of NATO have a lot more to lose from a land war in Europe than the U.S. does. And as with global warming, the U.S. fetish for ‘efficiency’ leaves the choices against Russia between mutual nuclear annihilation, having NATO launch a land war in Europe against the interests of NATO members or eventually shutting up and going home. And the large U.S. military presence needed to maintain access to Iraqi oil is to place an imperial army thousands of miles from home against increasingly insecure supply lines— a famously losing strategy. The only certainty at this point is that the U.S. leadership is profoundly incapable of much beyond further pointless slaughter.

Left largely unarticulated in the U.S. is that we, the people, have little to gain and everything to lose from this corporate-state militarism. Leaving aside the prospect of nuclear annihilation that U.S. political leadership seems remarkably complacent about, looming environmental catastrophe that will require radically re-imaging Western ‘lifestyles’ is already on the horizon. Committing additional resources to perpetuating the fossil fuel based economy will come at exponentially greater cost as global warming proceeds. The political leadership in the U.S. is uniquely unwilling to address it leaving increasingly desperate overseas predations like those currently being undertaken as the waning gasps of empire. This trajectory was made obvious when the gimlet-eyed baby Bush launched his ill-considered slaughter in Iraq. What Mr. Obama has made abundantly clear is that there is no ‘course correction’ possible from within Western political establishments. The consequences of sequential U.S. imperial adventures overseas are aggregating and slaughter and destruction are about all that ‘we’ have left.

Finally, to U.S. President Barack Obama’s dim blather about ‘who we are’ as a people in the U.S. U.S. foreign policy in my lifetime has included grotesque slaughters against the peoples of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Iraq and ‘lite’ wars in Panama, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Syria and now once again Gaza. Domestically the U.S. has the largest overall prison population and the greatest percentage of the population in prison in the world. Mr. Obama himself has claimed the rights of absolute monarch to kill citizens and non-citizens alike at his whim without evidence. In Iraq the U.S. resurrected the Abu Ghraib prison and ran it pretty much as ‘one of the worst dictators in world history’ Saddam Hussein ran it. And as events unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri illustrate, America is a racist, quasi-fascist open-air prison for poor people of color. This is who we are as a people Mr. Obama.

.....................

Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. His book Zen Economics is forthcoming.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/15/finishing-the-job-in-iraq/
URL for entire article
19 Aug 2014
Modified: 05:57:13 PM
Here is the URL for the entire article and the links:

http://front.moveon.org/8-things-to-know-about-the-iraq-crisis/#.U_PVALE
Why We Fight Wars
20 Aug 2014
to read Paul Krugman's article published August 17, 2014, click on
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/18/opinion/paul-krugman-why-we-fight.html