Thursday, May 09, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #107 - Part 5

Iraq: renewed violence in the land we forgot

Over 700 people were killed in Iraq in political violence in April, nearly 600 of who were civilians. It was the deadliest month in Iraq in five years.

For the past few months, Sunni Muslims have been gathering in public squares in massive protests against the oppressive Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been engaging in an increasing crackdown on political opponents. On April 21, a sudden raid by security forces on a Sunni protest encampment in the city of Hawija, north of Baghdad, resulted in three dozen protesters being killed.

That sparked a wave of retaliations, counter-retaliations, and counter-counter retaliations that has continued into May.

The US spent eight years and $800 billion the Iraq mission, as well as costing the lives of more than 4,000 US soldiers, 32,000 more wounded, an absolute minimum of over 100,000 Iraqi dead, all of which wound up producing an authoritarian government that no better and in some ways perhaps worse than the one it replaced. So I ask you: Was any of that money, were any of those lives, wasted? Better yet, was any of it not wasted?

Now, Baghdad residents are reported to be stocking up on rice, vegetables, and other foodstuffs in case they can't get to the shops because of fighting or curfews and a senior Iraqi politician was quoted as saying “It is wrong to say we are getting close to a civil war. The civil war has already started.” A civil war that, officials fear, could be worse than Syria's.

And speaking of Syria, we have the terrible twins, the mad mavens of militarism, the Chang and Eng of "blow it up" foreign policy, Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham, demanding that the US directly attack Syrian air bases with cruise missiles, establish a "no fly zone," arm the rebels with heavy weapons, and prepare an "international force" to go into Syria - and we should do this even if the unproven claims that the Assad government has used chemical weapons are false. Oh, and that "international force," they are quick to emphasize, would not include Americans. We'll let others take the risk

They're not the only ones. The chair and the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat Bob Menendez and GOPper Bob Corker, respectively, agree. Menendez has introduced a bill to directly arm the rebels and Corker says the US is already "doing a lot more on the ground than really is known."

Clearly, we're doing all this because we learned so much from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But in fact we did learn something - or, rather, the militarists learned something from our military adventures over the past few decades: the sad fact that we as a people will tolerate almost any level of death and destruction so long as we are not the ones doing the bleeding.

And now, based on exactly that premise, we are being herded towards producing more of the same in Syria.


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