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Harumph and bother: a post about Obama and ISIS

Looted museum in Baghdad circa 2003. We were the superglue.

One thing the Democratic activists love to crow about is how they’re not like conservatives who think that conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed.

And then there is the mess that is ISIS, the collapse of Iraq and Obama’s negligence of the country that lead us back to war.

Disclaimer: I am not a conservative, not a Republican and actually align myself with the left.  But for some peculiar reason that I can’t quite figure out, I have been the vocal outlier on this tiny asteroid in the blogosphereic Oort Belt.  There are a few like minded dust specks out here but the left seems to be dominated by people who screwed up in the most spectacular fashion in 2008 and yet still insist that they are the smartest, most peace loving, accomplished citizens ever.  Let’s just call them the left’s very serious people.

So, the left’s very serious people, LVSP for short, are wringing their hands about ISIS because when push came to shove, Obama did what most American presidents have done in the past.  He turned the FUD up to 11.  I’m glad I don’t have cable so I can safely ignore all of the hysterical arguments for war in Iraq again.  And let me make this clear, I was against the war in Iraq in 2003 because none of it sounded plausible to me.  Al Qaeda had the ability to strike the US in 45 minutes?  As if.  There was clear evidence of weapons of mass destruction?  Please.  What do you take me for?  I think we entered the hall of shame with Freedom Fries, though.  It was about that time that the US put the screws to raw milk cheeses from France, which was really uncalled for.

Smart people knew that there was no reason to go blow up Iraq.  It was just Dick Cheney’s wet dream.  He and his buddies wanted to cash in big on government military contracts and private oil contracts.  They raced into Baghdad, allowed the ruin of some of the most important archaeological sites in human history, destroyed the government and then set about playing some kind of right wing version of Monopoly.  Mission Accomplished indeed.

It’s no wonder that so many of us hated the Iraq War and all the damage it did to real human beings.  It was greedy, careless, ruthless, selfish, expensive and stupid.

OUR side would do it differently.  WE would get out of Iraq.  That was THE most important thing.  Because OUR side was for peace and prosperity and turning the other cheek and not making war or spending lots of money to blow things up.  And THAT’S why so many young, ideologically pure, left wing doves voted for Obama over the candidate with the lady parts.  Heck, it’s why Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize before he had even done anything.  (I’d still like to know what nefarious group nominated him.  They were clearly up to something.)

In any case, peace would rein, oops, sorry, was doin’ a Bush there, reign in Iraq and the people would cheer our exit and get back to their shawarma and all would be hunky dory.  Because that is what the left is all about, getting out of stupid wars because they are stupid.  And so it was.

And that’s where the left made it’s mistake.  As Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker has said in two Fresh Air interviews, here and here, Iraq is an artificial state.  The only way it stayed together after the fall of Saddam Hussein was by having an American presence there acting as an intermediary between all of the disparate groups.  The Sunnis have a persecution complex, the Shias are being helped by Iran and the Kurds, currently the only group in Iraq that has its sh&* together, just wants out.  Bummer about that whole landlocked Kurdistan thing.

In his interview on Fresh Air in June this year, Filkins reported that Obama lost interest in Iraq early and just wanted to pull Americans out.  The timing of the pull out, before the 2012 election year, seems to me to have been a way of pacifying the lefties and keeping them quiet, but I’m only making a guess based on past performance.  al-Maliki was getting pressure from Iran to get the US out of Iraq but he was hoping to negotiate some kind of deal with Obama for a residual presence.  But the White House wasn’t giving any guidance to the State Department. So, when the last troops pulled out, the American superglue that held the whole place together fell apart.

Now, I’m really sorry if the left’s very serious people, like Digby, didn’t see this coming.  Certainly, she’s smart enough to figure out what the fall out of the troop withdrawal would likely be.  But the left seems to be of the opinion that peace can never fail, it can only be failed.  All those Iraqis should have gotten along when we left.  It was in their own best interests.

More likely, peace needed to be a long term investment whether we liked it or not.  It’s not surprising that Obama had way too much on his plate to think this through properly.  But as I have observed before, Obama governs in campaign mode and his policies rarely have the deep thought and execution that is required from the most powerful man in the world.  Experience probably would have helped here but we didn’t elect the guy for his experience, did we?  No, we hired him because he was not like a powerful politician.

Too bad for us.  Believe me, it doesn’t give me any pleasure to keep pointing out what a disaster 2008 was.  No, indeed, the suffering here and abroad just never seems to end and we will come to regret our choices for generations to come.  You can make excuses for him and throw accusations around that the CIA is out to get him but it won’t change the fact that he’s directly responsible for the urgency of the situation in Iraq because he neglected this problem and the United States’ role in keeping the country together.

If you don’t take the time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

We’re about to find out.

One more thing: Could it be that the left’s very serious people are really upset by the fact that the right wing has gotten smart about Obama and has given up pushing the ridiculous right wing memes, like birtherism, for an accurate assessment of Obama’s performance?  Because if they’re latching on to accuracy, the Democrats better have a better defense than just whining about how unfair it is to blame Obama for everything he does.  It’s not a winning formula.

9 Responses

  1. I can’t help wondering if his brain ever developed beyond the choomin’ at 14 years old

  2. rd, I agree with your post but for this:

    >He and his buddies wanted to cash in big on government military contracts and private oil contracts.

    which I think plays into the Left’s habit of seeing foreign policy entirely in terms of upper class greed. That certainly plays a role, but less of one than the Left chooses to believe. Which is to say there were a lot of elements that went into the Iraq debacle, from the personal (W’s desire to “fix” his father’s “mistake”) to the idealistic (yes, some people did think we could make Iraq a better place) to geo-politics (a western-leaning Iraq would be a powerful check on both Russia and Iran) to, fear (some people did worry about Iraqi nukes, lack of evidence notwithstanding), to, yes, greed.

    What all these (and more) supporters had in common was the belief it would be easy, and it was that more than anything else that allowed them to all board the stupid train to the Iraqi debacle (which also became the Afghanistan debacle, because we took our eye off that ball, or more accurately, the administration never had its attention focused there).

    Unfortunately too much of the Left views all foreign policy issues through the lens of the “evil capitalist US” as if other evils don’t exist, so that anything that goes wrong anywhere is always ultimately our fault, and anything we do can only make the world worse. Which certainly saves time compared to learning and thinking about the vastly more complicated reality, but is also, among other things, a politically self-defeating worldview, one even Henry Wallace, never mind FDR, would reject.

    • I agree that the left tends to have a cynical attitude when it comes to war. But in the case of Iraq in 2003, there was no reason but greed to break what didn’t need breaking. There were no weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda was a bit player in Iraq, and there was a lot of oil under that sand.
      Not only that but going there has motivated Iran to meddle in the internal affairs of Iraq. Meanwhile, we broke their infrastructure and it’s as bad today as it was when we invaded. We were never in any danger from Iraq. Yeah, saddam was a bastard but he was defanged. So, in that respect, the left was right and I am proud to be among them.
      Today is a different story. The bushies plunged headlong into a geographical area that is very sensitive, made a mess and then Obama carelessly pulled out without running the models. The left needs to stop being cynical and the right needs to stop throwing wars.

      • Cynicism can serve well as a mental defense against propaganda. I will not lower my mental deflector shields, no matter who advises it.

        No, not everything that goes wrong everywhere is ultimately the fault of capitalism, but enough of it is that I think a “guilty until proven innocent” attitude is warranted toward capitalism and its puppet governments.

        So far, no one has shown me what I would consider sufficient proof of the innocence of my alleged betters, so I will remain a DFH.

        I agree that our country’s involvement in WW2 was necessary, but I regard that war as the great exception, whereas the enthusiasts for intervention regard it as the great example.

  3. So, Dexter Filkins says that only the American occupation presence kept Iraq together and could keep it together after the indigenous strongman government was destroyed. How long would Dexter Filkins
    want American troops kept there, subject to IEDs and so forth? Twenty, thirty, fifty more years? We have stayed in South Korea for 50 years and counting, but South Korea was a viable project and has proven a worthwhile investment. Under American Occupation and then post-Occupation presence, South Korea has developed into an economic and industrial challenge to America itself . . . like a smaller Japan. We may feel inconvenienced, but we can be proud.
    Does Dexter Filkins think Iraq would EVer have offered any sort of South Korean outcome in return for getting Americans maimed and killed there for fifty years and counting? Do you? If so, can he and/or you say why?
    But you are correct, we have a responsibility to fix what we have broken. The only problem is we are no longer capable of fixing countries, only breaking them. So how do we discharge our responsibility to Iraq and against ISIS? Very simple. We support the people (countries) who know how to fix things, or at least limit the breakage. In practice that means, we switch sides in Syria and back
    the Assad regime in killing as many people as necessary until the so-called “moderate opposition” is crushed. Its remnants can then
    join the Syrian Arab Army in finding and exterminating -in-detail every
    cannibal jihadist head-chopping liver-eater in Syria. This then contains the problem to Iraq. We offer to help Iran exterminate ISIS in Iraq if and only if Iran tortures its Iraqi Shia janitor-government into either granting the Sunni Arabs equal rights and no more persecution within Iraq, or otherwise granting their region the same autonomous powers as Iraqi Kurdistan now has. Because the 6 million Sunni Arab tribesmen and the Baathist officers and soldiers and the Army of the Naqshbandi Order will not stop supporting ISIS until they have achieved every single thing they want and don’t need ISIS anymore. Then they will be free to exterminate ISIS and all its members themselves. But if we don’t force total granting of total Sunni Arab rights in Iraq, we will be fighting the Tribes and the Old Regimers who stand beHIND ISIS, and that means decades of guerilla war.
    If a Prez-nominee wannabe runs on THAT agenda, I will support that nominee-wannabe all the way.

  4. of course we were the glue…that’s why we left.
    So we could come back as we have

    oh look Arab Spring the squeal goes East!!


  5. The Left today doesn’t mind our wars of choice and global US imperialism as long as it’s a Dem doing it…Then air strikes, proxy armies and torture are ” humanitarianism”.

    Hillary of course is the Dem exception. She’d get far more noise about such things from the Left than any Repug would

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