Sunday, April 19, 2015

Who Lost Iraq?

Had it been written by a no-account, no-name journalist I would have ignored it.

Written by a distinguished journalist like Michael Kinsley for a widely circulated publication like Vanity Fair, the article requires attention.

Kinsley’s title gives the game away: “How the Bush Wars Opened the Door for ISIS.”

Which means, don’t blame Barack Obama for the current state of Middle Eastern affairs. And, be sure not to blame people like me who opposed both Bush administrations and fawned over Barack Obama.

Kinsley offers something of an isolationist take on it. He does not begin with Bush the Younger’s Iraq War but with Bush the Elder’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991. (Of course, he says nothing about the role Congress played in either.)

In his words:

It has been an unbelievable 25 years since George H. W. Bush started us on the adventure that still isn’t over in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are American soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East right now who weren’t even born when Bush the Elder declared the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait to be an intolerable situation and sent roughly half a million Americans halfway around the world to reverse it.

Kinsley bemoans the fact that Kuwait was not and still is not a democracy. He has nothing to say about what the world would have looked like if Saddam Hussein had taken control of Kuwaiti oil. He does not even consider the possibility that, had America’s leader been following Kinsley principles, Saddam might well have decided to move south to take over the oil fields of Eastern Saudi Arabia.

Kinsley does not consider reality because he is selling a fictional account whereby the only reason George W. Bush (and the American Congress, lest we forget) declared war on Iraq was Oedipal: he wanted to finish what his father had started.

True enough, George W. did propose something of a democracy agenda. Truer still, democracy has not broken out in the Middle East.

And yet, one wonders what a President Kinsley would have done when faced with the intelligence, agreed to by all major Western intelligence services, that Saddam Hussein was amassing weapons of mass destruction.

By now we know, or we think we know, that the intelligence was faulty. But, had you been president, what would you have done?

Now that we know that the war was predicated on bad intelligence, the rationale for being in Iraq, Kinsley opines, has vanished. This suggests that we should now pretend that it never happened.

He writes:

But if the war was a mistake, even an innocent or well-intentioned mistake, any justification for staying on and on has disappeared as well.

Obviously, thoughts like this caused President Obama to abandon Iraq. How’s that one working out, Mike?

We will mention it in passing, because Kinsley blinds himself to reality, that, between Gulf War I and Gulf War II, we suffered the terrorist attack on 9/11.

Apparently, it does not count in the Kinsley calculus. To his mind, all of those crazy Muslim terrorists are really a bunch of nondescript clowns. Who can tell the difference between them all?

In Kinsley’s words:

Where did ISIS come from? What ever happened to the other Middle East groups we used to know? Where is al-Qaeda? How about the Taliban? Does anyone remember the mujahideen? If you do, you’re really showing your age. The mujahideen were the freedom fighters we armed and trained in order to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan—a shrewd bank shot, everyone agreed, until, after the Soviets slunk away, we counted the leftover Stinger missiles in the freedom fighters’ broom closet and realized that many were now in the hands of unfriendly elements. And a lot of the mujahideen had gone with them.

So, they are all a joke. 9/11 was a really big joke. 

For Kinsley’s information, al Qaeda is alive and well and prospering. The Taliban is alive and well and flourishing. And let’s not forget Hamas and Hezbollah, supported by Iran, a leading state sponsor of terrorism. We might even note that the Obama administration is doing its level best to facilitate Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. It does not seem to care about the threat those weapons pose to Israel, to Europe and to the U. S. A.

Allow Kinsley to make his point:

And it is also to note how fast the cast of characters in this drama can change, amid the anarchy we helped create—which is another reason not to leap to the assumption that anything further we might do would be of help.

Note well: he is saying that it’s all a drama. It’s all theatre. There is a shifting cast of characters, but none of these personae could possibly be of a threat to America. Apparently, Kinsley has forgotten 9/11.

When it comes to assigning blame, Kinsley is clear: it’s America, and particularly the Bushes, Elder and Younger, who are responsible for this anarchy.

Everything would be so much better if Bush the Elder had done nothing when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

And, we know that without the interference of the United States, the region would be peaceful and prosperous and democratic. And we also know, as the Obama administration seems to believe that all the problems in the region have been caused by Israeli settlements.

Where have you heard that before?

Why, it’s the Islamist rationale for the mess that the Middle East has become. Terrorists do not need to take any responsibility for their actions and for their failure to bring peace and prosperity to their people. The fault, Kinsley says, lies with the Bush family.


Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ares Olympus said...

re: By now we know, or we think we know, that the intelligence was faulty. But, had you been president, what would you have done.

That's such manipulative rhetoric. It’s not a matter of bad intelligence, but bad INTENT. Bush had a timetable to start a war against a country that had NOTHING to do with 9/11, and created the facts that fit his narrative, while no serious facts had changed in 13 some years. We had economic sanctions against Iraq and a continual game of cat and mouse was at play.

But real offense offence comes from the salesmanship. There's a serious argument to consider, like whether the death of 500,000 excess children in Iraq because of sanctions, because of a lack of chlorine which could be used to clean water OR make weapons, but Clinton's SoS Albright assured us it was worth it.

But how long do you want to be responsible for economic sanctions that help dictators keep power?

So an honest argument would be "We need to end sanctions, and Saddam has to go" and presented the evidence to the U.N. with no hurry, given a dozen years already invested, and we could announce to the world that're we're going to LIFT sanctions unless a united plan was found to end Saddam's rule.

But instead we had neocon "Shock and Awe". We had "America as liberators" and we had Dick Cheney predicting the war would last weeks rather than months. We had Wolfowitz assuring us that reconstruction would be paid for by Iraqi oil. So this is all ENDLESS enabling nonsense, all outside the question of whether Saddam had chemical weapons or trying to access to nuclear materials.

Of course I know politicians are not allowed to tell the truth, and sometimes there are necessary unpopular actions that can never be sold on "facts" because the facts are soft ones, risks and unknowns.

I'm not big into conspiracy, but when people say FDR knew about the Pearl Harbor attack, or that Bush or the NSA knew about 9/11, I'd sympathetic to the possibility.

If you want to act militarily in a democracy, the best way is to make people feel attacked, unsafe, and so if you know exactly what your enemies are planning, and deem it an acceptable loss, then you're willing to let your enemy finish his work, and THEN you have the proof that risks are not just risks, but facts, and perhaps that's were real danger lies, in military overstepping.

9/11 and the various other terrorists attacks make for a perfect world for authoritarian governments, including our own, to justify anything in the name of safety.

But outside of that, my own conclusion is we have to consider compromises, like that 100% safety is impossible, so let's act rationally in our responses, accept risks.

The Boston Marathon tomorrow shows one of these over-reactions, now Boston has cameras in all public spaces, so police forces can track the movement of individuals, and there is no such thing as individual privacy in public, and who knows how that will be abused?

I admit when I've seen stray backpacks sitting on the ground around racing events, I now see them differently than before. So we're all affected by fears, and most of them will be unfounded.

And that's about the only thing I think I've learned from this. If you listen to fears, you'll see exactly what you expect and cherry-pick wider facts from distant events to prove your vigilance is justified, even when statistically it’s not, and you don't even know the terrorist have won because they just need one death to make millions afraid and stupid.

Anonymous said...

ISIS is just an Islamic version of what is happening in the West.

ISIS, like SJW, are amnesiac and deranged. They are not like traditional Muslims with respect for past. They are radical loonies who wallow in destruction for destruction sake.

Western PC loonies or SJW--social justice warriors--don't go around murdering people, but their world-view is no less demented, which is why we have lunacies like the UVA rape hoax case. Pure hysteria.
And 'hands up don't shoot' hoax in Ferguson.
And the likes of Lena Dunham committing cultural terrorism against morality, decency, and taste. They destroy the souls of youth of America. And the wall between mainstream pop and porn has vanished. Look at Nicki Minaj's ANACONDA or Miley Cyrus's WRECKING BALL.

ISIS and SJW are part of globalist youth radicalism. A world without roots, world without sense, world without proportions. A world where insipid youths can be driven to believe, scream, or do anything.
Once respectable Time Mag praises Kanye West as the most influential figure in the world. The #1 search item in 2014 was Kim Kardashian.
American culture is cultural terrorism, pure and simple.

The West, un-moored from meaningful traditional, now has young people screaming and bitching about false 'rape culture', trigger warnings, every perceived 'micro-aggression', bogus nonsense like Ellen Pao Wow crap, and other tripe. They call for destruction for pizza stores that won't cater to nonsense like 'gay marriage'. CEO-cracy and even the Supreme Court take full part in the destruction of moral America. Our politicians are whores who do the bidding of globlalists who foment wars in Syria and Ukraine.

The spread of 'gay marriage' is indicative of the cultural terrorism and moral terrorism against decency and values.

ISIS claims to stand for Islam, but these nutjobs just love to destroy for the thrill of destruction. It's Islamic version of Rap thug culture.

They pretend to oppose globalism but they represent the globalization of radical Islam that is unbound by institutions, tradition, and hierarchy. It's just crazed thugs and radicals making up their own fashionable rules of what Islam is about.