A few minutes ago, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell walked into the Oval Office to discuss with the President what to do, if anything, if Iraq falls apart. As Iraq falls apart.
At the same time – right now – 450 members of the New Jersey National Guard are leaving Fort Dix in Burlington County, NJ, on their way to a mobilization center in Fort Bliss, Texas. From there, they ship out to the Middle East. To Qatar, near the action. Their families and friends were there to see them off today. Many of those families have been through this routine, and the uncertainty and concern that goes with it. Not that they can’t handle it. We call on military families to be strong, and they do their best to be strong. But what’s required on our end is coherent foreign policy and intelligent decision-making. If we let President Obama’s fix-it strategy chase George Bush’s adventurism and war-profiteering, will we be doing right by these 450 men and women from New Jersey, or the ones we asked so much of for so long already?
If the situation was bad before, it’s a shitshow now.
The lies in our foreign policy – and especially in the oil-hungry foreign policy of our presence in the mideast – blur and obscure the landscape so that we may be put in the position of fighting our own government when it says there is threat and we see evidence that there is not.
Millions of people around the world poured into the streets to protest the Iraq War. (Where is the peace movement now?) In America, in many cities, they were led by the veterans of the first Iraq War, Daddy Bush’s war, and the vets of wars before that. Those millions knew there were no weapons of mass destruction, as our government swore there were. Half a million people died. Trillions of dollars were spent. Was the wisdom of the millions protesting in America and around the world ever acknowledged by this government? No. Did anyone in power thank whistleblowers like Joe Wilson? No.
The lies obscure the landscape so you don’t know if there’s a real threat or not. (This explainer at Mother Jones is useful).
War requires an enemy, and America has a history of creating enemies to justify military action and empowering bad leaders who then become our enemy, sometimes even turning our own weaponry against us. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has captured cities including Mosul and Tikrit with all eyes on Baghdad. We’re told Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS is the new Osama bin Laden. Is he? Republicans are saying we should fear another 9/11-level threat on American soil from these people, and from the military we hear that “all Americans should be concerned.”
I don’t know if there’s a real threat; honestly it’s not a mistake I would want to make, to underestimate the level of resentment – much of it that we caused – of America and the willingness to attack us where we live.
I do know that the terror inflicted on us is a shadow of that we’ve inflicted on that part of the world. That I see no reason to get caught in sectarian pay-back that we may have made worse. That my president, ushered in as a conquering hero after the stink of the Bush years, is in a weakened position right now. But he is still empowered to ramp up intervention in Iraq because his war authorization has not expired. That the Iraqi Army into which we have invested so much, is powerless. That both Republican politicians and our military have lied to me, you, and the rest of the world, exaggerating threat to justify killing people and risking our troops.
Those 450 men and women get ready to deploy to the MidEast and do what we send them to do don’t need my worry as they get their game face on. But I’m worried about them just the same.