The late, great critic of the American Imperium, Chalmers Johnson, popularized the salient concept of “blowback”. That is, the notion that if you bomb, drone, invade, desecrate and slaughter—collaterally or otherwise— a people and their lands, they might find ways to return the favor.
But even Johnson could not have imagined the kind of blowback coming ferociously Washington’s way now. Namely, the mayhem being visited on much of Iraq by American tanks, armored personnel carriers, heavy artillery, anti-aircraft batteries and other advanced weaponry that has fallen into the hands of the very jihadist radicals that have been the ostensible target of Washington’s entire multi-trillion dollar “war on terrorism”.
No question about it. The ISIS terrorists are winning against the hapless Iraqi military and even the formidable Kurdish peshmerga fighters—using some of the most lethal arms that the US military-industrial complex could concoct.
Yes, that wasn’t supposed to happen. During the bloody years after George W. Bush declared “mission accomplished” the Iraqis were ostensibly provided the arms and training to provide for their own defense. The American “occupation”, therefore, was really not all that. Instead, it was actually an exercise in “nation-building” that would bequeath to the people Washington had “liberated” a self-governing democracy equipped with the means to insure internal order and external security. Washington politicians—including President Obama—gave endless speeches about that. You can look them up!
Except…except….Iraq was never a nation. At least the Ottomans knew that you don’t put Shiites, Sunni and Kurds in the same parliament or police force, and most certainly not the same army!
By contrast, it was the British and French foreign offices which in 1916 drew the Sykes-Picot boundaries and created the historical illusion that a nation called Iraq actually existed. And it was their successors in the west which installed a series of corrupt and brutal rulers, including kings, generals and Saddam Hussein himself, who maintained an always tentative and frequently blood-soaked semblance of governance within these artificial borders.
Then came the neo-cons who for no discernible reason of national security could not leave well enough alone. By god, they were going to have regime change, a stable supplier of six million barrels of oil per day, and a stalwart ally armed to the teeth on the very doorstep of the Axis-Of-Evil; that is, the Iranian Shiite theocracy which happened to be religious kin to the single largest block of the Iraqi population.
What these fools did was to open the gates of hell. The end result of Washington’s 20-year campaign to liberate Iraq, beginning with the first gulf war and followed by the devastating trade sanctions of the 1990s and the brutal desecrations of Bush II’s “shock and awe” and all the military mayhem which followed, was to aggravate, widen and mobilize all of the latent ethnic and religious conflicts and enmities that had been bottled up for decades inside the Sykes-Picot illusion.
Now the furies have come. Ironically, the bloodthirsty ISIS is comprised of fighters who were first enabled by the misbegotten Bush maneuver known as the “surge”; then armed and trained by the CIA for the campaign against Assad; and now brandish the best weapons that any ramshackle jihadist group ever had.
And yet America’s “peace” President is sending the bombers back in because there is a “humanitarian crisis” involving a religious sect no American has ever heard of, stranded on a mountain top that has nothing to do with the security and safety of the citizens of Lincoln NE and Spokane WA.
Has not the American war machine turned the entirety of Mesopotamia and the Levant into a humanitarian crisis—of which this is only a tiny manifestation? Isn’t it time to at least stop fueling the blowback?
Reprinted with permission from David Stockman's Corner.