The Best Thing America Can Do to Help Iraq Is to Do Nothing at All…

Iraq After the Fall of Saddam Hussein

From Thom Hartmann

The U.S. should learn from its mistakes and stay out of another Middle Eastern quagmire. Any American intervention will only fan the flames of a fire that’s already threatening to burn way out of control.

It’s now been a week since the jihadist group Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) captured the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, and its fighters now control a whole stretch of territory ranging from the Euphrates Valley in eastern Syria all the way down to the ring of cities surrounding Baghdad.

Today they crept even closer to the capital.

If it wasn’t obvious before it should be now: Iraq is a broken country.

Whatever kind of sectarian peace Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule created, George Bush shattered. Now the Iraqi people are reaping Bush’s whirlwind.

This is what happens when you invade a sovereign country, eliminate its government, and destroy its infrastructure.

Of course, Iraq’s current Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki does deserve a lot of the blame for the current mess.

His corrupt and brutal government, which is made up of mostly Shia Muslims, has completely alienated Iraq’s minority Sunni population.

That is one big reason why ISIS has had such an easy time gobbling up territory: Iraqi Sunnis are so fed up with the Maliki government that they’re willing to work with people who were kicked of Al-Qaeda for being too extreme if it means not having to worry about the Shias running Baghdad.

If all this sounds confusing and complicated to you, that’s because it is confusing and complicated.

Iraq is a really complicated country, and although we’re ultimately responsible for what’s going on there right now, there’s really nothing we can do to fix it.

Nothing that won’t make the problem worse in the long run, that is.

Airstrikes against ISIS fighters—which is one of the things the White House is reportedly interested in doing—will almost certainly kill civilians, making Iraqi Sunnis even more likely to join up with ISIS extremists.

Airstrikes will also have a blowback effect, making America enemy number one for ISIS radicals.

Working with Iran to snuff out ISIS fighters, meanwhile, is just as dangerous— not because, as Republicans think, Iran is the root of all evil but because working with Iran would send a message to Iraqi Sunnis that we’re on the side of the corrupt Shia government that they hate.

There are really no good options.

That’s why we shouldn’t “do” anything in Iraq.

We should learn from our mistakes and stay out of another Middle Eastern quagmire.

This is what’s best for us in the short term and it’s what’s best for Iraq in the long run.

The great historian Crane Brinton had a theory about how human societies change that tells us a lot about the current crisis in Iraq and how we should deal with it.

According to Brinton, when societies go through times of revolutionary change they go through three main phases.

During the first phase the people revolt and the old order is overthrown.

Then during the second phase the revolutionaries— the people who overthrew the old order — become oppressors themselves and use violence to stay in power.

And finally during the third phase—the Thermidorian Reaction—the people revolt against the revolutionaries to restore the peace and tranquility they used to have during the old regime.

After this third and final phase, order is restored, and if things go well the best parts of the revolution are preserved.

Brinton was writing about the French Revolution but his ideas still fit with what’s going on Iraq right now.

Iraq had its old order overthrown in 2003 and is still caught in the second violent and radical phase of Crane Brinton’s theory of revolution.

Until the Iraqi people decide to revolt against this violence, Iraq will be stuck in an endless cycle of radicalism and terror.

Any American intervention—especially a violent one with airstrikes—will keep them in this violent phase for a long time, maybe even decades.

That’s why the best solution to the Iraqi crisis isn’t really a solution at all; it’s to do nothing, to let the Iraqi people solve their problems themselves.

One Comment

Tony Carlucci’s article about the “Kiss of Death” the US administers to its friends in the Middle East is a much more complex account than the Thom Hartmann account:

The Truth About US Troops “Sent to Iraq”
By Tony Cartalucci, Global Research, June 17, 2014
Indeed, nearly 300 troops are being prepared to deploy to Iraq, as they would be to any nation on Earth where a US embassy is located, and may possibly require evacuation. It is in no way an “intervention” or a gesture of “assistance” to the government of a destabilized country. However, in Iraq, Western headlines would have readers think otherwise.
The Guardian’s article, “Barack Obama sends troops back to Iraq as Isis insurgency worsens,” in title alone leads the general population to believe the third “Iraq War” has begun.
The article claims: The US is urgently deploying several hundred armed troops in and around Iraq and considering sending an additional contingent of special forces soldiers as Baghdad struggles to repel a rampant insurgency.Upon carefully reading the article, however, it is revealed that these troops are only to aid in the security of the US embassy in Baghdad. Buried 11 paragraphs down, amid suggestions, speculation, and conjecture, is the true nature of the latest deployment: Obama said in his notification to Congress that the military personnel being sent to Iraq would provide support and security for the American embassy in Baghdad, but was “equipped for combat”. All troops participating in such missions to protect and possibly evacuate US embassies anywhere on Earth are “equipped for combat.” This hyperbole at best is sensationalism, and at worst, intentional disinformation meant to further undermine the stability of Baghdad’s government, by implying that it both seeks and depends on US military forces for its continued survival. They are going to bolster security at the US Embassy in Baghdad. Attempts to portray the routine move as an “intervention” is a ploy to undermine the credibility and sovereignty of the Iraqi government.
It has been previously reported that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a creation of the United States and its regional allies, with the CIA itself monitoring, arming, and funding the terrorist organization along the Turkish-Syrian border for the past 3 years. The ISIS’ incursion into northern Iraq was portended by their very public redeployment to eastern Syria in March 2014 where they then prepared for the invasion of Iraq.
Since invading, they have committed themselves to overt, sectarian bloodshed in an attempt to trigger reprisals across Iraq along sectarian lines and create a wider sectarian conflict. The relatively small ISIS force can and will be overwhelmed by Iraqi security forces if the psychological and strategic impact of its blitzkrieg-style tactics can be exposed and blunted. In the meantime, during this closing window of opportunity, the US in particular is struggling to undermine both the sociopolitical stability of Iraq itself, and the credibility of the government in Baghdad. Ironically, to do this, the US is posing as Baghdad’s ally.
The US has used insidious propaganda to distance itself from its own proxies in places like Egypt, portraying ElBaradei and Mohammed Morsi as “anti-Western.” Policymakers have admitted the need to do so to prevent anti-American sentiment from undermining the chances of success for their proxies. Following this logic, overtly “supporting” those the West opposes would be an effective way to in fact, undermine them.
Readers should recall during the opening phases of the very much US-engineered, so-called “Arab Spring,” that both the US and Israel intentionally and very publicly offered “support” for the embattled government of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, despite training and funding the very mobs that were set to overthrow his government. The alleged support was a psychological operation (psyop) designed not to help the embattled government, but to undermine it further. Egyptians on all sides of the political divide viewed the United States and Israel with everything from suspicion to outright scorn. By posing as allies of the Mubarak government, the US and Israel were able to politically poison the leadership in Cairo and deny it any support that could counter the Western-sponsored mobs in the streets.
In retrospect, the orchestrated Western-backed nature of the Tunisian, Egyptian, and Libyan unrest is clear. However, as the events played out, especially in the early stages, the corporate-owned Western media committed itself to breathtaking propagandizing. In Egypt, crowds of 50,000 were translated into “crowds of 2 million” through boldfaced lies, tight camera angles and disingenuous propagandists like BBC’s Jon Leyne. In Libya, the initial armed nature of the “rebellion” was omitted and the unrest was portrayed as “peaceful unarmed protests.”
Perhaps most diabolical of all is the manner in which the mainstream media portrayed Egypt’s opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei. Indeed, ElBaradei was at the very center of the protests, having returned to Egypt a year earlier in February 2010 to assemble his “National Front for Change” with the help of Egypt’s “youth movements” led by the US State Department trained April 6 Movement and Google’s Wael Ghonim. But we were all told he “just flew in,” and that he was viewed with “suspicion” by the West. We were also told that Hosni Mubarak was still our “chosen man” and reports even went as far as claiming (unsubstantiated claims) that Mubarak was preparing to flee to Tel Aviv, Israel of all places, and that Israel was airlifting in weapons to bolster his faltering regime.
Obviously those “attempts” to save Mubarak’s regime failed, precisely because they were never designed to succeed in the first place. And on the eve of Mubarak’s fall, the US eventually turned a full 180 degrees around from defending him, to demanding he step down.
With amazing “foresight,” the Council on Foreign Relations’ magazine Foreign Affairs reported in March 2010, a year before the so-called “Arab Spring,” the following (emphasis added): “Further, Egypt’s close relationship with the United States has become a critical and negative factor in Egyptian politics. The opposition has used these ties to delegitimize the regime, while the government has engaged in its own displays of anti-Americanism to insulate itself from such charges. If ElBaradei actually has a reasonable chance of fostering political reform in Egypt, then U.S. policymakers would best serve his cause by not acting strongly. Somewhat paradoxically, ElBaradei’s chilly relationship with the United States as IAEA chief only advances U.S. interests now. “
Fully realizing US or Israeli support for ElBaradei would destroy any chance for the “revolution’s” success, it appears that the cartoonish act of overtly, even oafishly supporting Mubarak in the early stages of the unrest was a deliberate attempt to shift the ire of the Egyptian people toward him, and their suspicions away from the West’s proxy ElBaradei. Similar attempts have since been made to bolster the legitimacy of the Muslim Brotherhood while undermining the military-led government now ruling in Cairo.
Beyond Egypt, such a campaign unfolded in Libya against Muammar Qaddafi, with rumors circulated that Israel was trying to save the embattled regime by hiring mercenaries, and even claims being made that Qaddafi was Jewish. Mirroring the cartoonish propaganda aimed at galvanizing Mubarak’s opposition, attempts to tarnish Qaddafi’s image in the eyes of America’s and Israel’s enemies by feigning support for him was attempted, but ultimately failed. Against Syria, a similar campaign by the US and Israel met with even less success.
Still, the “political touch of death” the US and its regional allies wield is extended out toward any and all in the hopes that it will help undermine and destabilize targeted nations. This most recent attempt to portray Baghdad as a benefactor of possible US assistance seeks to both grant the US plausible deniability in its role of raising ISIS legions in the first place, and undermine the Iran-leaning government of Iraq’s Nouri al-Maliki in the eyes of enemies and allies alike.