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Iraq? Again?

Old man sending young men to war
Old man sending young men to war
Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

John McCain thinks that all the problems in Iraq are President Obama’s fault because the President withdrew our troops from Iraq in 2011. A few thousand American troops, he thinks, would have kept half the Iraqi Army from running away from ISIS fighters. A few thousand American troops…who were asked to leave by the Iraqi government…could have kept that selfsame Iraqi government from becoming non-representative, dysfunctional and repressive…a government its own Army refuses to fight for. And, now that we’re gone, Senator McCain implies we should send our troops back in.

One wonders what Senator McCain would have thought had politicians in 1975 suggested we send our troops to support the dysfunctional and repressive government of South Vietnam just at the time their own army was running away. One wonders what he would have thought had he been asked to go back under those circumstances.

One wonders what the young men in service today think of what this old man now wants them to do in his place.

Many bad decisions have been made by various administrations since 2001. But unarguably the worst was to invade Iraq in the first place. We know now that the Bush Administration was determined to attack Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from its earliest days…long before the 9/11 attacks gave them the excuse…they thought…to do so. The lies they told…weapons of mass destruction the Iraqis didn’t have, Iraqi involvement in 9/11 that didn’t happen and on and on and on…are well documented. And their ignorance of the history and culture of the region…specifically, the conflict between Sunni and Shiite Islam…as causes of the morass the war became are now well known.

In a sense, we are now paying the price for the bad decisions of the Allies at the end of World War I, that divided the Middle East according to the colonial ambitions of the victors and not the natural divisions of the people who lived there. Iraq is an artificial construct containing three mutually exclusive groups, a country that has never been a country except when held in the iron grip of a dictator like Saddam Hussein.

And now men like Senator whose bad decisions put us into Iraq in the first place…say we never should have left Iraq and now should go back in support of the artificial construct we should have left alone long ago.

Why, Senator? Why must we do it? Why can the Iraqis not do it themselves? Why, at long last, can we not leave the people of the region to fight their own fights and, in the end, create their country…or countries…as they should have been in the first place?

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