• Candidates, Here’s Your Iraq/Syria/Libya Mess to Fix

    April 12, 2016

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria


    Candidates, one of you will be the fifth consecutive American president to make war inside Iraq. What will you face on day one of your administration?

    You learned with us recently of the death of a Marine in Iraq, which exposed that the United States set up a fire base in that country, which exposed that the Pentagon used a twist of words to misrepresent the number of personnel in Iraq by as many as 2,000. It appears a second fire base exists, set up on the grounds of one of America’s largest installations from the last Iraq war. Special forces range across the landscape. The Pentagon is planning for even more troops. There can be no more wordplay — America now has boots on the ground in Iraq.

    The regional picture is dismal. In Syria, militias backed by the Central Intelligence Agency are fighting those backed by the Pentagon. British, Jordanian and American special forces are fighting various enemies in Libya; that failed state is little more than a latent Iraq, likely to metastasize into its neighbors. There may be a worrisome note about Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Lebanon waiting for you under the Oval Office desk blotter.

    But candidates, your focus must remain on Iraq; that is where what the Jordanian king now refers to as the Third World War began, and where Islamic State was birthed, and where the United States seems to be digging in for the long run.

    Though arguably the story of Islamic State, Iraq and the United States can be traced to the lazy division of the Ottoman Empire after the Second World War, for your purposes candidates, things popped out of place in 2003, when the American invasion of Iraq unleashed the forces now playing out across the Middle East. The garbled post-invasion strategy installed a Shi’ite-dominated, Iranian-supported government in Baghdad, with limited Sunni buy-in.

    Sectarian fighting and central government corruption which favored the Shi’ites drove non-ideologues without jobs, and religious zealots with an agenda, together. Clumsy policy cemented the relationship – a senior Islamic State commander explained the prison at Camp Bucca operated by the United States was directly responsible for the rise of the violent, theocratic state inside the divided, but then still largely secular, Iraq. “It made it all, it built our ideology,” he said. “We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else.” So first came al-Qaeda in Iraq, followed by its successor, Islamic State.

    Fast-forward through about a year and half of Washington’s fear-mongering and wagging the dog, and America’s re-entry into Iraq moved quickly from a Yazidi rescue mission, to advisors, to air power, to special forces, to today’s boots on the ground. That is your starting point on day one in office.

    As your strategy, every one of you candidates has promised to destroy Islamic State.

    Even if that destruction comes to be, the problems in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere (space precludes drawing the Turk-Kurd conflict into this article, though the war itself has no such restrictions) would still be there. Islamic State is a response, and its absence will only leave a void to be filled by something else. Your root problem is the disruption of the balance of power in the Middle East, brought on by a couple of regime changes too many.

    The primary forces the United States are supporting to attack Islamic State in Iraq Sunni territories are Shi’ite militias. Though they have been given a new name in Washington, Popular Mobilization Units, that does not change what they are; have a look at a popular Instagram, where a Shi’ite fighter asked for viewers to vote on whether or not he should execute a Sunni prisoner. Washington clings to the hope that the militias and it are united against a common foe – the bad Sunnis in Islamic State – while what the Iranians and their allies in Baghdad also supporting the militias more likely see is a war against the Sunnis in general.

    Oh, and candidates, that Iraqi national army, trained at great cost until 2011, then re-trained for the past 18 months, is still little more than a sinkhole of corruption, cowardice and lethargy.

    As for any sort of brokered settlement among the non-Islamic State actors in Iraq, if 170,000 American troops could not accomplish that over almost nine years of trying, re-trying it on a tighter timetable with fewer resources is highly unlikely to work. It is unclear what solutions the United States has left to peddle anyway, or with what credibility it would sell them, but many groups will play along to gain access to American military power for their own ends.

    What you will be inheriting, in the words of one commentator, is a “bold new decade-old strategy” that relies on enormous expenditures for minimal gains. The question for you is: if war in Iraq didn’t work last time, why will it work this time?

    The hole is deep and being dug deeper as we speak.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...


      The hole being dug in Iraq is USA’s clever sneak attack plan. Our troops will emerge disguisesd as voles and catch those squinty eyed Chinese enemies offguard.

      04/12/16 8:35 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      I think the Third World War will begin in Cleveland.

      04/12/16 8:48 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Never winning is a brilliant winning strategy for the MICC and a clever ruse of the beribboned gangsters running the Pentagon. There won’t be a soft landing for the American Empire.

      04/12/16 8:52 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Starting point on day one: With so many wars to fight, Hillary/Trump will have to institute the draft and send their trust fund babies into harm’s way. Right.

      04/12/16 9:14 AM | Comment Link

    • b. traven said...


      Peter.. I would like to hear your views on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf State’s medieval monarchys role in this fiasco. In my opinion a discussion of this intractable mess is not complete without bringing in their incendiary role in financing and providing the Wahabi philosophical underpinning for this escalating situation. Yes, the US bumbling invasion of Iraq set this off but let us not forget that our own neo cons and neo liberals were also carrying water for the Sunni Gulf kingdoms and Israel.

      04/12/16 11:26 AM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      I agree fully. Decades of sucking up to the Saudis came home. They funded the rise of radical jihadism for us in Afghanistan, which lead directly to 9/11 and all that followed. Blind obedience to Israeli aims fuels radicalization.

      How’s that? OK, I’m a dead man now, just a question of who pulls the trigger.

      04/12/16 12:35 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      B Traven- PVB is in enough trouble. Asking him to implicate Israel- the culprit in all our sordid Middle Eastern affairs- would throw him again into the moat. He’s been there before and didn’t like it much.

      04/12/16 12:25 PM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      Quit FRIGGIN’ … Israelis OR Saudis !

      04/12/16 2:50 PM | Comment Link

    • b. traven said...


      Who wants to spend their life living on the hill looking down at the blind leading the halt?

      I lived through the great depression and poverty, sent to an orphan home at age 12, went straight from the orphan home into the US Army Air Corps in WW II, three years. After the war I found that my aunt and two young nephews were murdered in Auschwitz. The lessons I learned made me live as a contrarian questioning power for my entire life.

      The moat looks fine to me. That’s the only way to live…always questioning and learning. Not comfortable but with a clear conscience. Everyone chooses their own way.

      04/12/16 5:24 PM | Comment Link

    • b. traven said...


      An added comment: The secret redacted 28 pages of the 9/11 report are finally leaking out and with the incipient suspicions that the American people still have of the Saudis they may lead to a demand for separating our country’s best interests from those of the Saudis. Maybe a little Saudi regime change” may occur to some future president. I have even heard Trump make comments in that direction.

      04/12/16 5:32 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      B Traven, most discerning thinkers have learned to live life as best they can while treading in the moat with no desire to reach the castle’s drawbridge.

      04/12/16 5:36 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      “The secret redacted 28 pages of the 9/11 report are finally leaking out and with the incipient suspicions that the American people still have of the Saudis they may lead to a demand for separating our country’s best interests from those of the Saudis and hanging every last one of the Bush war criminal cartel.”

      There…fixed it.

      04/12/16 6:20 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      quote”The question for you is: if war in Iraq didn’t work last time, why will it work this time?”unquote

      It all depends on the definition of..”work”. For the Lords of War, and defense contractors..it worked just fiiiiiine. And I’ve got $$25 that says they’d be up for another round too..starting tomorrow. Only this time..they’ll have to start the draft.

      04/12/16 6:33 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Where is there information on the redacted 28 pages of the 9/11 report?

      04/12/16 9:19 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      “Oh, and candidates, that Iraqi national army, trained at great cost until 2011, then re-trained for the past 18 months, is still little more than a sinkhole of corruption, cowardice and lethargy.”

      And that is on top of training the Iraqi army during Saddam’s time, not to mention helping Saddam into power after General Kassem’s assassination

      04/12/16 9:21 PM | Comment Link

    • b. traven said...


      Kyzi.. Here is one link. Just search stories on “28 Pages” or “9/11 report”.

      There are many stories even in the main stream media.

      04/12/16 9:55 PM | Comment Link

    • Candidates, Here’s Your Iraq/Syria/Libya Mess to Fix http://wemeant… | Roy Schestowitz - API Key Placeholder said...


      […] Here’s Your Iraq/Syria/Libya Mess to Fix https://wemeantwell.com/blog/2016/04/12/candidates-heres-your-iraqsyrialibya-mess-to-fix/ #war #intervention […]

      04/13/16 4:06 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      We just sent a bunch of B-52s to the Persian Gulf for use in Iraq and Syria. That ain’t no foolin’ around.

      “The US Air Force sent B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf Saturday and plans to use them for bombing raids on targets in Iraq and Syria, according to the Pentagon and the US Central Command, which oversees US military operations in the Middle East. An undisclosed number of bombers will be stationed at Al Udeid air base in Qatar.
      “This marks the first deployment of B-52s in the Middle East since the 1991 Persian Gulf War[…]”


      Also, the WH is thinking of sending some more Special Forces troops to Syria. What is interesting about this, to me, is that I heard these special forces referred to as “mercenaries” at least twice on the news the other day. That is a pretty open admission of the use of mercs in all this mayhem around the globe. I also read an article which claimed that these mercenaries belonged to Erik Prince – founder of Blackwater, now CEO of a new merc group – but that would be a bit odd, given that he is under investigation by the DoJ. Or maybe not so odd. We bought the services of Blackwater even after they committed war crimes in Iraq; made them pay a fine, take a little vacation, and then re-hired them. And didn’t Hillary use them in the State Dept.?

      Re: the draft – If they do bring it back, which they may need to once they decide to go all in on China and Russia, the Pentagon thinks perhaps women should be included.

      “The government is deliberating whether to propose Selective Service changes that would make women eligible for the military draft, the White house said Friday, a day after the Pentagon said it would no longer bar women from combat jobs.[…]”


      These people are fully committed to their wars and bloodshed, I’ll give them that. Too bad that when Miami is completely submerged thanks to rising seas, and we find out that there is no potable water anywhere in the US thanks to fracking waste and other chemical run-off, there won’t be any money to help with those problems. We are going to find out very soon now just how much these wars are really costing us.

      04/13/16 4:21 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      Oh, and let’s not forget our joint venture with Saudi Arabia against Yemen. It’s an Iraq/Syria/Libya/Yemen mess for the next president.

      Thanks to the US and SA, there are 13 million people in Yemen (half the population) that are struggling to find enough to eat, and half of those (a quarter of the population) are close to starvation.

      But we keep supplying armament and intelligence to the Sauds so they can blow up schools, hospitals, and civilians.

      04/13/16 5:08 AM | Comment Link

    • Links 13/4/2016: Wine 1.8.2, Enlightenment DR 0.21 Alpha | Techrights said...


      […] Candidates, Here’s Your Iraq/Syria/Libya Mess to Fix […]

      04/13/16 5:55 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Teri Look on the bright side! Equal opportunity for women to kill! That surely counts, Children as combatants- another big breakthrough in our culture of inclusion. And the brass ring- no need to feel badly for families of mercenaries killed. Those families approved of their son or father’s decision to kill total strangers in exotic far away foregin lands.

      04/13/16 7:57 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Thank you, B.

      04/13/16 10:17 AM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...


      Saudi Arabia Warns of Economic Fallout if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill

      04/22/16 3:03 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...


      Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude

      04/22/16 3:07 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...


      Dancing with the Devil: Charting the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood

      Saudi Arabia Coerces US Over 9/11

      04/22/16 3:14 PM | Comment Link

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