Learning from the Iraq War and interventionism

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By: Graham Dano, Columnist

It has been exactly 15 years since the Bush Administration ordered US troops to enter Iraq, supposedly to remove Saddam Hussein´s weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and the proxy war between the US and its self-proclaimed “axis of evil” began. Of course, we all know the story by now-the intelligence was false, there were no WMDs that we could actually find, although we technically knew there were some to begin with, since we gave them to Hussein, and the Iraqi state itself was only held together by terror and fear, not a genuine love of country.

Since it was one of the many Middle-Eastern nations literally cobbled together by the British and French colonial empires after World War I, the “Iraqis” were actually Kurds, Sunnis, Shias and other, smaller ethnic groups such as the Bedouin tribesmen. Saddam kept the whole thing more or less together under his dictatorship, but when the U.S. came in, deposed him and tried to get the ball rolling for democratic elections, the whole thing fell apart.
Extremist adherents of Islam, who hadn’t even been in the relatively secular nation originally, started flooding in from Afghanistan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia (and Iran), and our nation found itself in the middle of a sectarian war.
Thanks to President Obama, we did get out of the mess in 2011, leaving a relatively stable government in place with what the U.S. thought was an effective federal Iraqi Army, staffed with some lower-level lieutenants from the Hussein regime.

Patting ourselves on the back, we foolishly believed that we, the high and mighty United States of America, had single handedly solved generations of ethnic and religious strife, enabling us to walk away and pursue a “reset” with Russia under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Neither one of these lofty aspirations proved true-we are essentially waging a new Cold War against the Putin regime at this point, mostly with him to blame, and Iraq has separated into essentially three different nations.

In the north, near Turkey, we have the Kurdish region that is close to full autonomy at this point; in the south, the weakened central Iraqi government, which mostly consists of the Shiite technocrats backed by neighboring Iran, and in the east, the remains of ISIS and Al-Qaeda that still control large portions of the arid desert.

A certain amount of blame has to lie with the American voter blindly supporting neoliberalism, or, hawkish interventionist liberals, through the 1990’s and early 2000’s. We elected politicians who were too beholden to the military-industrial complex to do much of anything to stop the drumbeats of war that Bush and Cheney banged out, day after day, in early 2003. The pattern still continues, though a neoliberal in the style of the go-along-with-imperialism Democrats. The only way to stop this from happening again is if we actually get involved in politics and make our voices heard. Foreign policy issues are just as important as domestic, and political party doesn’t necessarily identify exactly what we need to know about a candidate anymore. Do proper research, and vote in candidates with non-interventionist foreign-policy positions.