Iraq: Endless Imperial Surgery

U.S. bombs fall on Iraq yet again, in strikes authorized by Barack Obama against the militant Islamist group Islamic State, which has taken over a chunk of the country. Between this and the deployment of US military “advisers,” the memory of Obama’s campaign criticizing war in Iraq on his way to office has grown a thick layer of moss. Yet again, faith placed in leaders, in government, to represent any interest but their own is dashed on the rocks of reality.

Curiously, along with the usual “more and faster, please!” screams from the likes of Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, another current of pro-war advocacy has bubbled up: They claim a “Responsibility To Protect,” spun as a debt incurred from the 2003 Iraq invasion and its fallout.

The train of thought is that the U.S.’s (continued) involvement in Iraq is owed because the emergence of sectarian warfare is, after all, the fault of the US post-Saddam. The arrogantly militaristic Can Do spirit at use here is clear enough already, but this also inherently comes with a rather clipped understanding of basic history. The story of western interference in Iraq does not start with the falsehoods of the “W” Bush Administration. In fact, the modern nation of Iraq itself was stitched together originally as a protectorate under the British, from pieces of the Ottoman Empire broken up after World War One. After the passing of the torch of hegemony from Britain to the U.S., one of the first things the U.S. government did in Iraq was back a coup by the Baathists — including one Saddam Hussein — in 1963. Later on, the CIA would aid Saddam’s regime in chemical weapons attacks.

Turning on the US’s own creation in the ’90s brought more war, sanctions that clearly hit Iraqi civilians much harder than anyone in the regime, and then the invasion and subsequent installation of yet another western client government.

Looking back at the “debt” rationale for new intervention in light of the full record of the past, the naive nature of it is blinding. Following it to the letter effectively places a debt going back nearly a hundred years. However, the currency being proposed for exchange is not the profuse apology & restitution that would take place on the level of non-state individuals, but bombs, missiles, and manipulation. That these make up the initial damage reveals the “offer” of supposed benevolent empire to be a sick joke. What is owed to the Iraq people by the U.S. government, after all this time of bloodshed and lies, is admission of guilt, followed by an exit from the world stage, head held low in shame.

In a nod to recent history, the beginning strikes in this ongoing chapter of empire were launched from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. Without the end of U.S. hegemony, attainable only via the end of the state itself, news viewers may be greeted in 2044 by headlines about President Sasha Obama launching airstrikes on Iraq from the USS John Ellis Bush.

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