By the time you read this, America’s next, undeclared war in Iraq may already be under way.
Imperial militarists started floating trial balloons for the next American aggression as of June 11 in the Wall Street Journal, quoting “a senior U.S. official who added that no decisions have been made.”
Those seemingly reassuring words from one or another anonymous official may have meant only that the decision had not yet been made whether to use drones, planes, or missiles to start bombing Iraq again.
Militarily, any such bombing is likely to be pointless. Psychologically, it will allow the White House to claim that blowing things up proves that the President is “strong,” while Senators like Lindsey Graham and John McCain lead the chorus of “Masters of War” while calling for more. But expending lots of ordnance will at least have the usual economic benefit of allowing the Pentagon to order more WMDs to expend on more international debacles. We’ve seen this movie before.
Given the American popular response to last year’s plans to bomb Syria, there’s a pretty good chance that the militaristic trial balloons over Iraq will fall flat.
The Iraqi army has already fallen flat, why should the United States get re-involved in the disaster that Bush administration lies set in motion in 2002?
The American-trained Iraqi army and police had some 65,000 soldiers and police on the ground in Mosul. Rebels attacked on June 10 with a force of maybe 3,000. The Iraqi army, police, and perhaps 500,000 civilians all fled without serious resistance.
Can mindless bombing hold off mindless blame for “losing Iraq”?
Thanks to a supine and indolent Congress, and a long quiescent public, President Obama already has all the authority he may think he needs to take the United States into war in Iraq for the third time in three decades.
Remember the AUMF? That’s the Authorization to Use Military Force, passed by Congress in an abdication of its constitutional responsibility on September 14, 2001, giving away its authority to declare war. That self-neutering act was opposed by exactly one member of either house of Congress, California Rep. Barbara Lee, a Democrat. The primary section of the AUMF bill provides:
That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
Almost 13 years later, Rep. Lee remains the only member of Congress to be on record in opposition to allowing the President to have a blank check to use violence against pretty much whomever he chooses, for whatever reason he chooses. The recent resumption of drone attacks on civilian areas of Pakistan is one more effect of this law, even though people in the tribal areas of Pakistan have little if any connection to the attacks of 9/11.
The United States remains in a continuous state of war that Congress authorized in panic in 2001. Even though that panic has given way to chronic fear and political timidity, Rep. Lee’s perennial efforts to rescind the AUMF have had little support.
Is ISIS a direct organizational descendant of Al Qaeda?
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has, for the moment, established de facto control over a country-sized swath of Iraq and Syria, a goal it’s worked on for years, with some tacit support from the bordering Syrian and Turkish governments. The ISIS-controlled area stretches some 400 miles, between Aleppo in western Syria and Kirkuk in northeast Iraq. The area runs some 200 miles north to south, from the Turkish border to Falluja and towns south of Baghdad. The area contains the central portions of the river valleys of both the Tigris and Euphrates.
ISIS has advanced toward Baghdad, with unstated intent. It’s not yet clear whether it has the forces – or the desire – to attack Baghdad. But ISIS has more flexibility now that its attack on Mosul reportedly netted it some $425 million from local banks.
Kurdish forces have taken control of Kirkuk, in the wake of other fleeing Iraqis. Both ISIS and the Kurds have an apparent interest in establishing a modus vivendi that would allow both sides to focus on establishing their own stable states.
ISIS apparently intends to create a Sunni-dominated, Islamic state in the region it now holds. ISIS seems have a pedigree that includes Al Qaeda, at least tangentially, but enough to put it in American cross-hairs under the AUMF with far more legitimacy than some of the other people we’ve been killing.
Media war drums are banging away at the Washington Post (ISIS is “world’s richest terrorist group”) and CNN: “We should be worried. This, after all, is a group that was rejected by al Qaeda because of its ferocity. Its mysterious leaders are far beyond the extremist pale, and that they seem to be consolidating a territorial base must be put at the forefront of international counter-terrorism policy.”
Intervention-by-bombing in this situation won’t help as long as opposing forces keep running away. To make any difference with this land-locked semi-state, someone will have to provide hundreds of thousands of troops, surely more than the United States used to achieve failure the first time around.
But if ISIS is as Sunni-terrible as its harshest critics assert, there might be other, Shia-dominated states who should deal with the threat next door. Who? Well, probably whatever’s left of Iraq. And then? Iran? Saudi Arabia? [Oh, wait, Saudis bankrolled ISIS. So did Kuwait.] Egypt? Any thoughts?
Surely there’s someone besides the United States to let loose the dogs of kinetic support.