Friday, June 13, 2014

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

It's almost funny, in a horrible way.  Of course you all know that there's trouble in Iraq.  Last night my Right-Wing Acquaintance Number One was fretting over it, linking to an article from the Christian Science Monitor, which is a better source than NRO or The Daily Caller.  The "original invasion," RWA1 conceded, "was very badly handled," rather like an Obama cultist admitting that the President has in some ways been a "disappointment."  One of RWA1's friends advocated another US invasion of Iraq and of Iran and Turkey, to divide them by ethnicity and bring peace to the region; this, he said, would be "the best way we could help."  What could possibly go wrong?  It's good to be reminded that there are people even farther out of touch with reality than RWA1.

This morning I saw that liblogger Roy Edroso was having another hearty laugh at the Right's expense on this issue.  And true, there's plenty to laugh at.  Edroso quoted Slate columnist Reihan Salam, who wrote:
So why did the U.S. leave Iraq at the end of 2011? Part of it is that many within the Obama administration simply didn’t believe that U.S. forces would make much of a difference to Iraq’s political future.
Edroso invoked the Status of Forces Agreement negotiated by the Bush/Cheney junta in 2008, which was the main reason the US left Iraq at the end of 2011, more or less, if you overlook the remaining American troops and mercenaries.  In other words, it was the Bush administration, if it was anyone, who "didn't believe that U.S. forces" blah blah blah.  But Edroso neglected to mention that Obama tried to modify the SOFA to allow US forces to remain in Iraq past the negotiated date.  (I looked over the first 70 comments on Edroso's posts, and none of his readers mentioned the facts either.)  The Iraqi government refused to grant "legal protection" to US troops who committed atrocities and other crimes, so Obama had to keep his campaign promise to end the war, which must have been painful for him.

The facts are unpalatable to either party.  Obama fans have made much of his supposedly ending the war, trying hard to forget that the end was negotiated by the Bush administration.  Republican Obama opponents have tried to forget that the end of the war was Bush's doing, not Obama's.  As in so many other areas, the parties have constructed a fantasy version of recent US history.  We live in the United States of Amnesia, darlings.

Richard Seymour posted his take on the matter:
I see it's time to get back into Iraq. It's been a while and, let's be honest, we've all felt the absence of imperial omnipotence registered in daily beheadings deeply. Last time, the US promoted some Iranian clients, installed them into a new patrimonial state, trained up their death squads - and then complained like fuck when Iran seemed to make some strategic gains in the situation.
True.  I guess things have been too quiet lately, or something.

At The American Conservative, Daniel Larison did a neat dissection of one writer who called for immediate US intervention in Iraq:
Jeffrey leans very heavily on creating the impression of impending catastrophe, but that appears to be alarmist exaggeration aimed at scaring people into endorsing the very dubious idea of sustained military action in Iraq for months and perhaps years to come. Once we think through what Jeffrey is proposing, we should all be able to see that an air campaign would be just the sort of stupid, knee-jerk reaction to a crisis that the U.S. should strive to avoid.
Of course we should, but will we?  Our rulers are looking desperately for another chance to use our superb military, which requires ginning up popular alarm.  It's a harder sell than it used to be, but sooner or later they'll find a workable pretext.  ISIS is an imminent threat to America!  If we don't act now, these scary Islamic terrorists will pour across the undefended US/Iraq border and conquer us, raping our cattle and stealing our women! These dirty pacifists don't care how many innocent people are massacred by the bad guys (as opposed to the good guys, namely us). We've got to do something! 

I'll be back home in the morning, after an overnight flight from San Francisco.  I don't know how long it will take me to get back in the groove, but I'll do my best.