by Ron Paul
In 2006, I invited the late General Bill Odom to address my Thursday Congressional luncheon group. Gen. Odom, a former NSA director, called the Iraq war “the greatest strategic disaster in American history," and told the surprised audience that he could not understand why Congress had not impeached the president for pushing this disaster on the United States. History continues to prove the General’s assessment absolutely correct.
In September, 2002, arguing against a US attack on Iraq, I said the following on the House Floor:
No credible evidence has been produced that Iraq has or is close to having nuclear weapons. No evidence exists to show that Iraq harbors al Qaeda terrorists. Quite to the contrary, experts on this region recognize Hussein as an enemy of the al Qaeda and a foe to Islamic fundamentalism.
Unfortunately, Congress did not listen.
As we know, last week the second largest city in Iraq, Mosul, fell to the al-Qaeda allied Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS ). Last week an al-Qaeda that had not been in Iraq before our 2003 invasion threatened to move on the capitol, Baghdad, after it easily over-ran tens of thousands of Iraqi military troops.
The same foreign policy “experts” who lied us into the Iraq war are now telling us we must re-invade Iraq to deal with the disaster caused by their invasion! They cannot admit they were wrong about the invasion being a “cakewalk” that would pay for itself, so they want to blame last week’s events on the 2011 US withdrawal from Iraq. But the trouble started with the 2003 invasion itself, not the 2011 troop withdrawal. Anyone who understands cause and effect should understand this.
The Obama administration has said no option except for ground troops is off the table to help the Iraqi government in this crisis. We should not forget, however, that the administration does not consider Special Forces or the CIA to be “boots on the ground.” So we may well see Americans fighting in Iraq again.
It is also likely that the administration will begin shipping more weapons and other military equipment to the Iraqi army, in the hopes that they might be able to address the ISIS invasion themselves. After years of US training, costing as much as $20 billion, it is unlikely the Iraqi army is up to the task. Judging from the performance of the Iraqi military as the ISIS attacked, much of that money was wasted or stolen.
A big US government weapons transfer to Iraq will no doubt be favored by the US military-industrial complex, which stands to profit further from the Iraq meltdown. This move will also be favored by those in Washington who realize how politically unpopular a third US invasion of Iraq would be at home, but who want to “do something” in the face of the crisis. Shipping weapons may be an action short of war, but it usually leads to war. And as we have already seen in Iraq and Syria, very often these weapons fall into the hands of the al-Qaeda we are supposed to be fighting!
Because of the government’s foolish policy of foreign interventionism, the US is faced with two equally stupid choices: either pour in resources to prop up an Iraqi government that is a close ally with Iran, or throw our support in with al-Qaida in Iraq (as we have done in Syria). I say we must follow a third choice: ally with the American people and spend not one more dollar or one more life attempting to re-make the Middle East. Haven’t we have already done enough damage?
This post was modified from its original form on 16 Jun, 10:39
Just a few days after President Obama said the U.S. would not be sending troops back into combat in Iraq, the president announced that we would be sending them back for other reasons. Some 275 Army troops have been freshly deployed "to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad," Obama announced late Monday.
The president's statement came amid continued violence from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS ) militants in the area. On Monday, ISIS seized the northwestern Iraqi city of Tal Afar. On Tuesday morning, ISIS fighters clashed with Iraqi government forces just north of Baghdad, in the city of Baquba.
A senior White House official stressed to ABC News that the U.S. troops headed to Iraq "would not be combat troops," merely "additional advisors." But not everyone is so keen on the distinction.
"The White House may say that special operations 'advisors' is different than sending 'combat troops'," wrote ABC's Jonathan Karl, "but they would be advising Iraqi forces in Iraq—something more than just training—and it is hard to make the case they would not be in harm's way."
In a War Powers Resolution letter sent to Congress on Monday, Obama noted that the U.S. forces deployed to Iraq were equipped for combat. "This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed," he wrote.
Meanwhile, a U.N. commission is warning that the entire Middle East is on the brink of war. In a Tuesday report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the commission stated that "a regional war in the Middle East draws ever closer" as ISIS advances across Iraq to areas bridging the Iraq-Syria frontier. The commission warned that Iraq's current turmoil will have "violent repercussions" in Syria as well.
This post was modified from its original form on 17 Jun, 8:29
As stories circulated of Iraqi cities falling to Sunni militia groups, I was struck by the words of Former Marine Staff Sgt. Keith Widaman, who spent a tour in Iraq: “When I left in April 2009, I said, ‘In five years there’ll be a civil war.’”
Mr. Widaman was right, as we’ve all seen over the past few days, and the “high officials” were wrong. The result – and I say this with sympathy for the dead, injured, and traumatized – is that the fighting, “nation building,” and trauma were all for nothing.
Iraq is not going to become a Western country. Afghanistan is not going to become a Western country. There is no foundation for Western life there, and as soon as overwhelming force pulls back, life there will return, more or less, to its usual ways.
If you want to change a way of life, you have to change the deep cultural assumptions that give it its shape. Armies and corrupt sycophants won’t cut it.Saddam Was Necessary
Please understand that I think Saddam Hussein was a monster, and that I’m pleased he’s no longer running around on this globe killing people. But that said, if you want a country like Iraq to hold together, you need more than the usual level of coercion; you require a tyrant.
The borders of Iraq were drawn by the Brits in about 1920. In other words, a conquering power (the Brits ‘won’ World War I) drew lines on the map as it suited them. But when they did, they ignored the fact that they were forcibly grouping Sunnis and Shiites together, and that they hadn’t learned how to mix.
Forced grouping is a very important subject, and one that is almost totally ignored by rulers. They control the borders and they expect everyone to get along. They have scribbles on papers called laws, after all!
But when you force humans together against their will, all sorts of frictions, insults, and misunderstandings arise… and there is no way to escape them, because the grouping is enforced.
If you leave people alone, they generally learn to co-exist. For example, there is a street in my old neighborhood lined with stores owned and run by both Indians and Pakistanis. These people – bloody enemies in their old countries – have learned to get along for one reason: No one forces them to live or work on that street. If they want to open a store or rent an apartment there, they can. If they don’t want to, they don’t have to.
The result of freewill grouping is that people eventually learn to get along. The result of forced grouping is resentment, sectarianism, and all too often, blood.
If you want a nation of Shias and Sunnis and Kurds to function as a single unit, overwhelming force – permanent overwhelming force – is required. Without it, things fall apart, and civil war is the typical result. So, if the Foggy Bottom Gang (that’s the State Department) is religiously committed to sacred, unchangeable borders, the US must become a colonial dominator. That means a permanent military occupation and our sons and daughters spending years, openly and knowingly oppressing people, “for their own good.”Afghanistan
Afghanistan is a more homogenous country than Iraq, but it’s not going to become a Western nation either. I spent time in Afghanistan in 2007, outside of the safe bases where politicians and media show up, take a few photos, and leave. I dealt with real Afghans, from the lowly to high military.
I saw a tremendous amount during my short stay, including the worst corruption I’ve ever seen, anywhere. Everything was corrupt, from the lowest levels of bureaucracy and police power to the Western aid agencies. It was a riot of domination, bribery, poverty, skimming, and dirty deals. That place is not going to become normal in any way that we understand. Not for a long time.A Few Have Done Well
Seeing that the US government has spent about $2 trillion on these escapades (it was officially $1.283 trillion in 2011), someone had to make money on them.
Those people were Dwight Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex (MIC), with the new mega-intelligence complex tacked on for good measure. The people who make killing machines have done very, very well. As have the people who build spying machines.
Certain engineering and private military contractors have done very well too, but only those who had contacts inside the MIC. Independents got nothing.
The people who were in positions to hand out contracts made a lot of money. Perhaps the oil companies and Middle Eastern royalty did well on it too, but that’s beyond my direct knowledge.
The worst losers, of course, were the dead. I’m not sure how many Iraqis died; estimates range from 100,000 to over a million. That’s a lot of dead people – all of them sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends. The fact that these deaths were far away doesn’t make them any less tragic. The number of injured must be much higher, of course.
On the Westerner side, only a number of thousand died, but that’s not trivial either, nor are the many more thousands of injured. And not only that, but returning soldiers are committing suicide in surprising numbers.
Aside from the military-industrial-intelligence complex, everyone has lost, and the situations in both Iraq and Afghanistan are “reverting to the mean.” And there they will stay, unless Americans commit their children to serve as international oppressors.
It really was all for nothing.