WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Watching Iraq from afar (helplessly)

This has to be an emotionally wrenching time for America's Iraq vets.

Bad enough that Iraq's Shi'a dominated central government turned out to be pro-Tehran.

So much worse that al-Qaida inspired militants - apparently intent on establishing a Sunni caliphate - are steamrolling their way towards Baghdad. They took Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, on Tuesday. Then Saddam Hussein's hometown, Tikrit, on Wednesday.

Americans have seen this sort of thing before. Saigon became part of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. But, from this distance in time, communist Vietnamese seem more benign than the Islamist militancy now metastasizing.

It appears retreating Iraqi central government troops abandoned U.S. Humvees and helicopters. Islamist militants now have all that U.S. hardware, which the Islamists eagerly posted on social media. Americans have seen that before too: The "wrong" side acquiring U.S. weapons, equipment, and machinery.

As I've noted in "comments" on previous blogs, it's not that the real experts didn't warn that Iraq - a country with illogical borders putting together disparate peoples - was probably destined to see such a bloodletting. (Of course, when neo-conservative hawks were beating the war drums for a second Iraqi intervention, they derided the real experts.) But the Bush Administration somehow linked Iraq to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., even though the hijackers were overwhelmingly Saudis and a few from other countries, notably Egypt, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates, not a single Iraqi.

Now, a familiar question doubtless rattles Iraqi vets: Was all the sacrifice in vain?

Few Americans are clamoring for U.S. air strikes -- although surely the remaining "hawks" in Washington will call for drone attacks.

Indeed, sectarian violence has been escalating in Iraq for some time, largely beyond the view of U.S. media and even official Washington. Cash-strapped media have cut their presence in Iraq, fully aware that Americans have little stomach for more news from Iraq or Afghanistan. It's worth noting, though, the last time Iraq's central government faced such an insurgency was 2007--2008. Then, Iraq's military put down an uprising from Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, with the help of a U.S. aerial bombardment.

In a way, the Iraqi central government has itself to blame. It failed to sign a security agreement with the United States.



Posted at 8:59am on June 12, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Thu, Jun 12, 2014 12:23pm
Was Vietnam all in vain? Looking back from 40 years.... yes.

We are on good term with Vietnam now... That would have happened over time without the war, perhaps happened even faster....

In retrospect, could we not have accomplished more good with economic sanctions against Iraq instead of war?

This time, the U.S. should be saying... "See what happens when you kick us out? We truly ARE the forces of good... You might not realize it at the time... but we ARE the better choice..." then put your hand up and say... oh well....

Though we lose Iraq, the subsequent political fallout will be that the U.S. again becomes revered in global opinion as the nation that will fight for principles and will fight to give other nations a chance to blossom....

Yes, we blew it after we "occupied" it... Lesson learned... Privatization of National Occupation does not work....

As an aside... being an extreme Muslim now will no longer be cool. Their extremism will be their own undoing.

Thu, Jun 12, 2014 3:10pm
"As an aside... being an extreme Muslim now will no longer be cool. Their extremism will be their own undoing."

Yep, and the cycle will continue...a "strongman" will rise up to end the Islamist extremists and the next Saddam Hussein/Khadafi/Mubarak/Assad/Hitler steps in.

Sat, Jun 14, 2014 11:09am
This is what happens when you don't finish the job.

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