As usual, the interventionists who run the US foreign policy establishment are drawing all the wrong conclusions from the news that the former "al-Qaeda in Iraq" (now "al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria") has set up shop in the notorious Fallujah. Sen. John McCain and his sidekick, Sen. Lindsey Graham, issued a joint statement over the weekend which unsurprisingly blamed the whole development on President Obama's decision to withdraw US forces form Iraq in 2011.
Wrote the Senators:
When President Obama withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, over the objections of our military leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America's enemies and would emerge as a threat to U.S. national security interests.There are two things wrong with this analysis. First, the phenomenon of al-Qaeda in Iraq was created by the invasion that the two Senators championed. Al-Qaeda was not in Iraq before 2003, as we all know. So if anyone is responsible for al-Qaeda in Iraq it is McCain, Graham, and the coterie of cakewalk neo-conservatives who pushed for the war. Secondly, as the Moon of Alabama blog so deftly points out, the whole "power vacuum" argument is a reality vacuum -- making no sense:
It was the U.S. attack on Iraq that set off the sectarian war in Iraq and beyond. It was the removal of Saddam Hussein that changed the balance between Saudi Sunnism and Iranian Shiaism which then motivated the Saudis to unleash the Jihadist forces. It was not a 'power vacuum' that created the strife that continues today and will continue in the future. It was the insertion of U.S. forces into the Middle East that led to overpressure and the current explosions.McCain and Graham and the neocons want to have it both ways. They want us to believe that the "liberation" of Iraq produced a successful, positive result -- a brave new society eager to spread its democratic, tolerant, and multicultural wings. That would justify their decade long (and more) advocacy of such an attack.
But at the same time they tell us that the US military can never leave Iraq lest a "power vacuum" be created that would allow "America's enemies" to establish themselves. But was the attack itself not supposed to rid Iraq of "America's enemies"? Worse, these enemies seem far worse than the enemies the initial intervention was supposed to eliminate.
How awkward for them to face the fact that their preferred action (invasion) produced a result worse than the problem. Their Straussian answer, of course, is to ignore that glaring fact and just scream for more intervention!
The real question now, as article after article is written about how horrific the "fall of Fallujah" is to the US military who participated in the brutal pacification of that luckless town back in 2004, is to what degree the US military will be going back to Iraq.
Secretary of State John Kerry is sending what are no-doubt designed to be mixed signals, wrapped in the enigma of State Dept-speak. He says:
“We are not, obviously, contemplating returning."
But then a qualifier it seems:
"We are not contemplating putting boots on the ground."
Ah, so that opens the door to much possible US military activity in Iraq. As he goes on to say:
"This is their fight, but we’re going to help them in their fight.”
Yes, sounds like Vietnam over again, perhaps even worse than 2003. The US "hellfire" missile shipment to Iraq has been "fast-tracked." This time the US is claiming to attack the same ISIS in Iraq that it is supporting (along with the Saudis) next door in Syria.
Back to Iraq? You bet!