Thursday, October 22, 2015


The overthrow of Saddam did not cause our current problems in the Middle East. Failure to build on the defeat of Saddam's Iraq certainly did contribute, however.

I don't know why this author has any appeal:

The American military project in Iraq miscarried and the “freedom agenda” went nowhere. Worse, even with all the thousands of lives lost or shattered, all the hundreds of billions of dollars wasted, US military efforts have actually made conditions in the Greater Middle East markedly worse. An enterprise intended to foster stability, spread democracy, and further the cause of human rights has instead produced something akin to chaos, while fueling violent radicalism.

And this is just an aside from his main point that the Iran deal is just dandy because it could change the region (for the better).

But his aside is such nonsense that I can't even move beyond that to address the primary nonsense.

From 2005 to 2011, we can see the exact opposite of the author's assessment. By 2005--prior to the Iranian-Syrian escalation to stoke sectarian conflict in 2006--we were pushing successfully reforms and human rights in the Arab world and Lebanon had a Cedar Spring that ejected the Syrian occupiers.

Even after we backed off on reform in the Arab world as we reacted to the 2006 sectarian explosion by cementing the Awakening and conducting the surge offensive, we broke the back of the jihad in Iraq and made jihadi recruitment a harder sell.

The idea that overthrowing a brutal dictator "justified" al Qaeda's claim that we were crusading imperialists kind of glosses over the fact that we were accused of that before we invaded Iraq, no?

Face it, looking for reasons we are to blame for the question of "why do they hate us?" is a chump's game. Anything we do or don't do is a reason for jihadis to hate and kill us. By now, given the eagerness of jihadis to slaughter everyone, shouldn't we understand that the correct question is just "why do they hate?" Full stop?

By the time we prematurely left Iraq at the end of 2011, the Obama administration even boasted how well Iraq was doing, recall, and Vice President Biden had said that Iraq could be one of the administration's "great achievements."

Even the Arab Spring that challenged the so-called "stability" of autocrats boasted the desire of protesters to replace autocracy with democracy--no matter how ill-understood the concept was--rather than with Islamism as past explosions against "stable" autocrats in Iran and Algeria aimed for (and in the former, succeeded in getting).

Yes, Islamism gained ground in the weakening of autocrats, but that was because of the organized strength of Islamists which predated our destruction of the Saddam regime.

And Islamists gained ground in Syria despite the fact that we stayed out. Their numbers dwarf the numbers who went to Iraq where our military presence supposedly "created more jihadis."

And the Islamists spilled back into Iraq as jihadi and Iranian influence spread in Iraq while we failed to bolster the Iraqi military and government to keep jihadi appeal in check.

The American military project in Iraq achieved a battlefield victory over a series of changing threats in Iraq that could be exploited to promote real stability, democracy, and human rights in the region over time if only we had made the tiny incremental investment to defend and exploit those battlefield gains.

Today, despite the own-goal of America allowing Iran and now Russia to penetrate Iraqi governing circles, we do have a much more free Iraq with a fragile democracy that actually fights jihadis at our side rather than killing its own people, threatening neighbors, and supporting terrorism abroad.

Think of what we might have achieved without walking away from Iraq at the end of 2011.

The author believes the defeat of a brutal and aggressive dictator in Iraq caused the problems we face in the Middle East now yet believes the Iran deal could transform the Middle East for the better.