U.S.-UK re-intervention in Iraq: Getting it lethally wrong twice

“A country without a memory is a country of madmen.”

George Santayana, 1906

The truly amazing thing about America’s interventionist elite is that they never, ever learn from their always egregious errors and half-baked plans. President Obama’s decision to re-intervene militarily in Iraq to “protect” the Azidi and Christian minorities will do nothing more than delay their doom. Neither he nor the British prime minister — old me-too Cameron, the U.S. lap dog — have the slightest intention of defeating the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and its allies, which would require the aerial slaughter and and boots-on-the ground demolishing of the mujahideen and that portion of the population that supports them. Both men are too sensitive, sophisticated, and well-educated to engage in such blue-collar nonsense as “winning a war” and so they will do a little military diddling and make sure the now-doomed Azidis and Christians go to their graves with full bellies.

What has not seemed to cross the mind of American and British interventionists is that Iraq’s Azidis and Christians are in their present terminal fix because the United States and the UK started the unnecessary Western invasion of Iraq, removed Saddam Hussain’s effective if brutal government, and installed a Shia tyranny. Under Saddam, the Azidis and the Christians had, to be sure, a tough row to hoe, but Saddam’s security forces kept their torment to a moderate level. We removed Saddam and all bets were off. The Shias now merrily kill Sunnis, and vice versa, and they both murder Iraq’s now unprotected — thanks to President Bush and Prime Minister Blair — religious minorities.

To a greater or lesser extent, the same thing is occurring in Afghanistan (Targets: Shia and Sufis); Pakistan (Targets: Shia, Sufis, and Christians); Syria (Target: Christians) and Egypt (Target: Coptic Christians). In each of these countries the religious minorities are suffering to a greater extent than previously because of U.S.-led interventions which were undertaken either without any intention of utterly defeating the Sunni Islamist malefactors — as in Afghanistan — or with what seems to be a near-complete ignorance of the country’s internal political dynamics, as in Syria, Pakistan, and Egypt. As always, America’s bipartisan interventionists proved to be military dilettantes and historically unlearned — not knowing Mubarak did what he could to protect Egypt’s Copts — thereby ensuring disaster for those they claimed to be helping.

In Iraq, Obama’s feckless intervention will do three things. First, it may slow the advance of ISI forces as they try to avoid exposing key assets to U.S. air strikes and lie low until the U.S. and Britain again depart. Second, it will increase the anti-minority rancor of the ISI fighters due to the sharp but not crippling losses they will suffer from U.S. airstrikes. When Obama and his fellow bipartisan interventionists call it quits — say, if there are American casualties — the mujahideen will conduct a pretty thorough cleansing of the country’s minority sects. Third, Obama and the interventionists are positioning the United States to again appear to the Muslim world as being militarily impotent and lacking in courage. This will cause Muslims all over the planet to again reflect that Allah must be genuinely pleased with the work of the ISI, Al-Qaeda, and myriad other Sunni Islamist insurgent groups if they can consistently defeat the strongest and most technologically proficient Western militaries. After all, Muslim believers are sure that victory in jihad can only come from Allah, and no victory would come if He was not pleased with the Islamist combatants fighting in His name.

If this was not bad enough, there also is a chance for worse. What if U.S.-UK military intervention barely slows the progress of the ISI fighters, the minorities continue to get murdered at the same or higher pace, and all of this is covered by the media for the public in both countries and the rest of the world. In such a situation, Obama’s action in Iraq will be seen for what it is: another in a long-series of U.S.-led interventions in the Muslim world that has given added strength and momentum to the Islamist movement — remember Libya and U.S. support for the military coup in Egypt? At that point, Obama, with mid-term elections 90 days off, will recognize how foolish, inexperienced, and weak he looks as a leader and for tactical political reasons — don’t give the national security issue back to the Republicans — and his own wounded ego may well decide to expand rather than end his intervention in Iraq.

In danger politically and again exposed as an incompetent, Obama might well intensify the air bombardment and begin arming what he will tell Americans are the democracy-loving “good Iraqis,” the Kurds and Shia. The increased air war would be a loser from the word go, as the only time in history that air power won anything was when two B-29s dropped nuclear bombs on Japan. And the Kurds and Shia have no record of doing anything effective against the ISI except whining for more and better U.S./Western weaponry and then abandoning it to the enemy on the battlefield or in arsenals as soon as contact is made with ISI units. There is no reason to think this would not happen again, only this time — if Obama arms them — ISI will reap a harvest of much better weaponry than it has previously picked up from the good Iraqis as they flee battle.

Then what? Well, there are only two options. In the first, Obama could deploy the U.S. ground forces he and Bush have wrecked through over deployment and their refusal to win wars, and which Obama has cut to the bone in terms of budget and manpower. In such a move, Obama, his party, and the Republican interventionists would again send U.S. soldiers and Marines to war as targets rather than killers; we would soon hear from Obama and his pliant generals the claim that “there is no military solution in Iraq”; and shortly after that Obama would announce our re-departure from Iraq, marking the third U.S. surrender to the Islamist movement in less than a decade. This is the bipartisan interventionists’ much tried and always successful method of bankrupting the United States, killing America’s soldier-children, and growing the international Islamist movement to unprecedented size and geographical reach.

The second option is to immediately stop throwing young lives and good money after bad. It is too bad that the Azidis and Christians in Iraq are going to be butchered, but their approaching demise was set in motion by the unnecessary war the Bush administration and the pro-Israel neoconservatives started in Iraq in 2003, and by Obama’s decision to surrender to the Iraqi Islamists by giving a date-certain for U.S. withdrawal-without-victory from Iraq. Surely enough American lives, limbs, and money have been wasted in Iraq already. Why waste more of each in a certain-to-fail re-intervention designed to make the humiliated U.S. bipartisan interventionists feel better about themselves for having tried to save the Iraqi minorities they have so blithely consigned to death over the past decade?

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.