Republican Sen. John McCain is among those offering up the soundbite. The civil war that is breaking out in Iraq cannot be confined to Iraq, the implication being that, as in 2002, in the runup to the disaster that was our first war in Iraq, yeah, we need to spend another trillion dollars, countless young lives and the rest.
Interesting that none of the war hawks who have re-emerged from their fortresses of solitude are citing Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn rule about how you break it, you bought it with regard to Iraq. The U.S. invasion in 2003 is a direct line to the present-day rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq; clearly, we broke it. But even if you could then say, using the Powell Pottery Barn rule, OK, we bought it, is it still ours to fix?
Absolutely not. Iraq is not, and never was, a threat to the United States. The flimsy arguments used to justify the 2003 invasion, since discredited, had dictator Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction. No such arguments are being made about the Nouri al-Maliki regime, which was installed by the U.S.
Even if Maliki falls, which appears a safe bet at this stage, what do the militants get for their trouble? Their homeland, in a state of utter disrepair, divided against itself. The idea that even the most hardcore of the militants in Iraq could divert their attention for more than a couple of seconds from what’s going on in front of their faces to think about exporting terrorism to U.S. soil is farcical even for the most fearmongering among our political right flank.
And the U.S. public, which is not at all agreeable with President Obama these days, nonetheless agrees with the president on this point. A new public policy polling survey has just 16 percent of us wanting to send troops to deal with the situation in Iraq, with 74 percent opposed. And despite the protestations of the chicken hawks emerging from their rabbit holes to the contrary, only 20 percent of us think that the current situation in Iraq is the result of the U.S. withdrawing troops from Iraq before the so-called job was done.
The neoconservative architects of the 2003 Iraq invasion criminally misread the appetite in Iraq for regime change. They saw a Westernized country waiting to greet their American liberators with flowers, when what they got was a diversity of ethnic groups that had forged unholy anti-regime alliances in the Hussein years that with Hussein gone could turn their attention back to their centuries-old beefs with each other.
The job, to use the language of the neocons pushing for a return of U.S. might to Iraq, was never going to be done, not for generations. Though that’s probably the point for the neocons and their allies in the Republican Party, for whom the war on terror and the war in Iraq was never really about protecting the American homeland, but rather about building on Karl Rove’s vision of a permanent Republican majority, based on cultivating fear and perpetual uncertainty on basic security and casting Democrats as focused more on coddling the very people dedicated to the end of our very way of life than being on “our team.”
This flare-up in Iraq has opened the door to the Batcave, and the self-styled superheroes are here to save the day.
Except that they’re not. We tried their approach, and what we got was thousands of our young men and women dead, tens of thousands of their generation broken, our economy in tatters, and our politics at odds not seen since the walkup to the Civil War.
– Column by Chris Graham