Obama: Living and Dying by the Sword in Iraq

In a move that should surprise no one, Reuters reports that the Obama administration announced that they’re going to deploy 200 more troops to Iraq. This doesn’t include the additional advisors, Apache helicopters and other gadgets that the US government has authorized to send to Iraq, nor the additional troops to Syria.

At a recent press conference in Saudi Arabia, Obama said that “[i]t was very important … for us to describe our assessment that Prime Minister Abadi is .. effectively fighting against ISIL … while acknowledging that there are significant problems in terms of government stability inside of Baghdad. And that’s a reason for us not to withdraw, but rather to get more involved in helping to stabilize areas.”

This fight for stability in Iraq and the Middle East is a fight that the US government has been attempting without success for over a decade. Perhaps the conclusion from this is that the common tactics of propping up US-backed governments, destabilizing others or assassinating leaders mysteriously doesn’t lead to more inner-state cogency.

But as Obama notes, none of that is a reason to back off the US’s attempt to control things they’ve shown time and time again they cannot control. Instead, we should rely on the time-tested tactics of more violence, more outside control, more innocent civilians being caught in the crossfire. None of which could cause any further militarization of the general populace against the US, naturally.

Unfortunately, because of the way government operates, the only word that matters is Obama’s. None of us have any say over whether Obama deploys 200 more troops to Iraq. Furthering this  control, the taxes we are forced to pay are funds that go to the US war machine to help continue the imperialism many do not support to begin with.

A war machine led by someone oblivious to the notion that ordering troops to go into other people’s countries, destroying their homelands, threatening their populations and spreading violence may not solve political instability in the long-run.

Obama couches it in positive terms suggesting in the same quote that “[i]f we want Sunni communities to be able to rebuild themselves and to get back into the lives they were leading before ISIL took over, then we’re going to have to help the Iraqi government respond.”

But how can a government that is trillions of dollars in debt, fails to protect the most marginalized communities within its own borders, and which treats its neighbors south of the border with utter disdain, do that?

The strides Obama has made to exit Iraq are notable and I’ve commented on them before, but instead of using that as a leaping off point to get all of the troops out of danger Obama has used his authority to inject more and more troops, bits at a time.

These quieter acts of war make it less visible and make Obama seem more praiseworthy.

However, no meaningful change is going to come within Iraq or elsewhere on a sustainable basis, by the US’s creation, because of inherent problems like a lack of local knowledge, legibility and information. Iraqis are best able to make the decisions for themselves, not Obama and his military. The best chance Iraq has at rebuilding is getting American troops out of Iraq and anywhere else they are stationed in the region. But Obama won’t do any of that.

His previous Iraq withdrawal has been replaced with the same sort of political backtracking that dominates actions by government agents. “People can’t be left to make their own decisions about their own communities! We need to have government force cultural cogency!” This paternalistic and imperialistic drive is at the heart of the US government’s foreign affairs.

Obama’s foreign policy is a sword that he should consider bequeathing, lest he die by it.

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