So far, at least, what is not coming next is U.S. intervention with either the reintroduction of troops, which nobody is calling for, or airstrikes against Isis, Sunni or Kurdish positions, a move that has been sought since early May by high-level Iraqi officials in the Shia-dominated government and has numerous adherents in Congress. Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and others have specifically called for air attacks. "No, I don’t think we should send troops back there,” McCain said Thursday, but “airstrikes alone will not be enough." Both blamed the Obama administration for not taking military action.
Ed O'Keefe and Wesley Lowery report on what is a growing we-told-you-so line from Republicans:
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), their party’s loudest voices for a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq, exited a closed-door briefing for members of the Armed Services Committee and reminded reporters that they had predicted that insurgents might overrun areas of Iraq.While McCain, et al., talk about what they predicted, what's left out of the story is what critics predicted before the U.S. led the 2003 invasion of Iraq on "evidence" fabricated or exaggerated by the Bush administration's neoconservative ideologues. The plan to "invade and rebuild" wasn't just a matter of resource control contained in the Freudian slip of the hastily rewritten acronym Operation Iraqi Liberation. Despite the widespread view that the invaders had made no plans to rebuild Iraq, that wasn't actually the case.
“Unfortunately, our worst fears have been realized,” he said.
McCain declined to endorse specific U.S. military options to address the growing crisis, but suggested that Obama should enlist the assistance of former military generals and diplomats, including former Gen. David Petraeus and former ambassador Ryan Crocker, who drafted the original plans to invade Iraq and rebuild the country.
Read below the fold for more commentary.
Iraq was meant to be just the first Middle East nation where the neocons would put U.S. boot prints on the ground after the sideshow of Afghanistan where they were unable and unwilling to accomplish what the majority of Americans thought was a legitimate objective: rounding up or killing Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders. If Donald Rumsfeld and others in the Bush administration had had their way, Iraq would have been attacked no later than early 2002. But they had to wait.
Seizing control in Iraq after the invasion was meant to be a prelude to setting up U.S. military bases to intimidate other nations in the region or provide launching pads for invading them in turn—most notably Iran. Iraq was meant to be a model, with state-owned industries, as well as the public health and education systems, turned over to the "free market."
It should be remembered that the chief of the Coalition Provisional Authority, L. Paul Bremer, issued a slew of orders designed to first destroy the Iraqi economy and then rebuild it as a free market paradise. He ordered the sale or auctioning off of state-owned companies, many of which wound up in the hands of multinationals, leaving only the nationalized oil companies in government hands. That exemption may have been simply to pre-empt criticism that the U.S. had invaded to get its hands on Iraqi oil.
Whatever the case, the neocons had a mission in Iraq that extended far beyond that nation's borders. The 9/11 attacks provided the neocons with the excuse for invading, even though Saddam Hussein had zero to do with those attacks.
Through hubris and incompetence, they didn't get a short, compact little war paid for out of oil revenues and a few hundred U.S. casualties. Instead, more than 4,500 Americans and at least 150,000 Iraqi civilians, most likely hundreds of thousands, wound up dead, with hundreds of thousands injured and millions exiled. The bill for which, when the cost of caring for tens of thousands of veterans with brain trauma and other life-long injuries are taken into account, is in the neighborhood of $3 trillion just for the United States.
Think how far that might have gone to, say, rebuild our nation's 63,000 crumbling bridges or extending wi-fi to rural areas, or investing in more renewable energy sources. Or not cutting food stamp or unemployment benefits.
What was gained by the expenditure of all this blood and treasure, the deaths and maiming of Americans and Iraqis, the empowering of extremists? That's not yet fully determined. When Isis and its allies reach Baghdad, if they aren't just bragging, they'll have to deal with matters like the Shia stronghold of Sadr City, a million strong. That won't be quite the walkover that Mosul was. So perhaps the authoritarian Iraqi government will manage to recover. But given that the Iraqi parliament can't even get a quorum together to decide how to respond to its predicament, and given that all the U.S. money, matériel and training that went into rebuilding the Iraqi military doesn't seem to have given it what it needs to maintain stability nationwide, total collapse cannot be ruled out.
Meanwhile, the right has its cudgels out for Barack Obama, pretending the history of America in Iraq began in 2009.