Iraq redux: The dogs of war are barking again


    It’s predictably pitiful that the Bush-era architects of our Iraq disaster have resurfaced to insist that the current sectarian bloodbath is all President Obama’s fault.

    They have no shame. In the words of Paul Pillar, a former top CIA analyst, these dogs of war precipitated “one of the biggest and costliest mistakes in American history” – and yet here they are, indulged anew in the press, shirking accountability and shifting blame and presuming to offer advice. This spectacle would be hilarious if it were not so nauseating.

    My post headline today draws its inspiration from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene I: “Cry havoc!…and let slip the dogs of war.” The neoconservative warriors – so deluded in their belief that America could quickly craft a Middle East democracy, so clueless about the sectarian realities of Middle East history – wreaked havoc and opened Pandora’s box. What’s happening in Iraq today is a direct result of their hubris, and they don’t even have the good grace to go away, like Bush, and paint puppies.

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    Paul Wolfowitz, the Bush Pentagon whiz who declared in ’03 that Saddam had WMDs and that the U.S. war would be quick and cheap, popped up yesterday on Meet the Press to say that we should commit U.S. troops to Iraq, just as we “stuck with South Korea for 60 years.” William Kristol, the neocon cheerleader who infamously predicted “a two-month war” and said there was “almost no evidence…at all” that Saddam’s removal would spark sectarian conflict between the Shiites and the Sunnis, said yesterday on ABC News (without a shred of irony or shame) that the current sectarian conflict (supposedly Obama’s fault) is “a disaster for our country.” And don’t get me started on John McCain.

    Here’s a radical idea: Let’s just ignore these people. They long ago forfeited their credibility.

    Yes, Saddam was an autocratic thug (albeit a thug without WMDs; albeit a thug who disdained Al Qaeda), but at least he kept a firm lid on the Sunni-Shiite tensions that had seethed below the surface for centuries. But absent Saddam, the lid came off. Bush’s regime exacerbated those tensions, and sowed the seeds of sectarian war, by summarily dissolving the Sunni-run Iraqi military and the Sunni-run Iraqi government bureaucracy. The result? A power vacuum. Shiites allied with Shiite-run Iran gained the upper hand, and armed Sunnis took to the streets. In the ensuing bloodbath, American soldiers got caught in the crossfire.

    It took a special kind of genius to empower Iran, but Bush and his team managed to do it. Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is a wholly owned subsidiary of Iran. He spent years in Iran as a Shiite exile; his Shiite political party was mostly financed by Iran. Since returning to post-Saddam Iraq and becoming prime minister, he has further exacerbated tensions by terrorizing the Sunni opposition. But that was fine with Bush. To quote the president in 2007, “Prime Minister Maliki is a good guy, a good man with a difficult job, and I support him,” and so do “the Iraqi people, who now live in a democracy.”

    These are historical facts – as are the circumstances that led to the withdrawal of American troops.

    Bush was so confident of his brilliant democracy experiment that he (not Obama) negotiated the Status of Forces Agreement with Maliki, mandating that all troops would leave by New Year’s Day 2012. A residual U.S. force could remain only if Maliki agreed to it. Obama was subsequently open to keeping 3,000 troops on site, but in 2011 Maliki rigged his refusal. He wouldn’t give our troops legal immunity from prosecution; without that protection, soldiers could’ve been jailed at random by Iraqi warlords. So Obama naturally said no (just as a President McCain would’ve said no).

    And guess which country was pulling Maliki’s strings. TV host Fareed Zakaria, the foreign-policy analyst, got this quote in 2011 from a senior Iraqi politician: “Iran has made very clear to Maliki that its No. 1 demand is that there be no American troops remaining in Iraq. And Maliki owes them.”

    Iran – Iran! – pulling the strings inside our experimental “democracy”…heckuva job, Bush.

    So when the shameless necons and Bush amnesiacs and clueless trolls bleat about “Obama’s fault,” it’s like hearing a pyromaniac whine that the fire department didn’t bring enough hoses to his four-alarm blaze.

    Do I have a magic elixir for the raging Iraqi fire? Nope. Nobody does. But here’s a fanciful idea: Let’s dispatch the dogs of war to Iraq, and compel them to clean up their mess. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, McCain and his fellow congressional hawks, Kristol and his fellow cheerleaders…they should all stay until they forge a solution. And if they argue for a new U.S war, young members of their own families should fight it.

    As Colin Powell warned his Bush teammates in ’03, “you break it, you own it.”


    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1


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