Bring Our Advisors Home!
In the latest stirrings of the bored and weary giant known as “our country,” we are sending approximately 300 advisers to give “strategy” lessons to an Iraqi military that was being instructed by the U.S. and reinforced by the U.S. for ten years. If they were unable to learn how to defend themselves in ten years, how are 300 men going to make a difference now? This is a 300-man surge of all surges. It is incomprehensible to this grassroots nobody.
Further, we have spent more than $1 trillion fighting Iraq and nation-building in Iraq. George H.W. Bush organized the first-ever coalition of Western countries and Islamic countries to wreck Saddam Hussein’s plan for geo-political hegemony in the Middle East. Operation Desert Storm was a big success, and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was reversed. We had supported Iraq in their fight against our avowed enemy, Iran, when those two countries were fighting in the 1980s, but we were wise stewards of power, and when Iraq turned out to be a big threat as well, under the leadership of the first Bush, we stopped Iraq. Then, hundreds of billions of dollars later, phase two of the operation was completed without the direct assistance of the rest of the Arab world. We deposed Saddam. It strikes this writer as plausible that Saddam was not finished off during Desert Storm because we were kowtowing to our Arab allies, who continue to have a fondness for dictatorships.
So we have spent over $1 trillion and over twenty years fighting Iraq and rebuilding Iraq. Now, after being absent for little more than two years, the stability of that country is threatened. Either our engagement with Iraq was unjustified to begin with or, considering that this is the outcome of 20-plus years of “stabilization” and “renewal,” we have the most stupid, incompetent, feckless, weak-kneed, gaseous leaders the world has ever seen, from Bush I through Bill Clinton through Bush II and now Obama.
It would appear that we have installed a government in Baghdad that is a farce. It seems that the Sunni militants who backed Saddam, plus those who have since emerged as ISIS, are still powerful even though “defeated.” When Eisenhower sent advisors to Vietnam, a country in which we had invested very little up until that point, he sent 15,000 to be non-combatants. The disproportion of our response in Iraq, considering what we have invested there as a country, is head-spinning.
The United States has promoted democracy in Iraq, but democracy has led to the presidency of Nouri el-Maliki, which is a puppet of Iran. Iran is our sworn enemy, whom we are trying to reach an agreement with even though they spit in our faces every day. By backing Maliki, we are backing our sworn enemy. Pressure is now being put upon el-Maliki to bring more Kurds and Sunnis into his government – i.e., to become better friends with his enemies. However, what does this pressure mean? When the George W. Bush team established the present constitution of Iraq, their stated goal was to have a coalition of various “enemies” in Iraq. At that time, Mohammed el-Sadr, the cleric who was the leader of the Shi’ites, objected that the Shi’ites did not have a strong enough voice. He was prevailed upon to lower the volume of his dissent, but over time, it seems that Shi’ites are too dominant. In short, the U.S. has failed in its original goal to have a religiously and politically balanced government in Iraq.
Is such a balance possible? The model justifying U.S. creation of democratic government in Iraq was our success in writing constitutions for Japan and West Germany after World War II. Countries that had not been democratic before WWII successfully became democratic. Using those successes as models did not take into account the intractability of differences (really, enmity) in the Islamic world. The model of Japan and West Germany also did not take into account the number-one variable between those nations and Iraq – namely, Islam itself. The “religion of peace” (Islam) is premised on violence more than any other ideology or religion in the world. There is no tradition of reform, compromise, peaceful transitions of power, moderation, civility (only a false politesse), or kindness/helpfulness.
We have failed to establish a viable democratic, balanced government in Iraq. Nonetheless, that has been our commitment. At the same time, the demonic forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are advancing. These monsters, who machine-gun defenseless troops and behead hundreds and hundreds of civilians, must be stopped.
The U.S. must smash ISIS by the use of air power and troops, returning to Iraq even though we failed there for 20-plus years. Sending 300 advisors is merely announcing our impotence. Bring them home. Renew our commitment to bringing peace and order to the region, by force if need be. And let us also not forget that Iran has become emboldened by the removal of our troops from Iraq and soon-to-be removal from Afghanistan.
Jeffrey Ludwig is a Harvard master teacher who has published numerous articles about the Middle East and about American education. He has taught at Harvard, Penn State, Juniata College, and various secondary schools.