It seems that Iraq is one of those recurring nightmares Americans just can't shake. No sooner do we pull out of the country than all hell breaks lose. Seems our pundits and partisans who pushed the United States into war with Iraq are now trying to thrust the blame for the current unrest on the Obama administration for coitus interruptus before the seeds of democracy could be properly fertilized in Iraq. Jon Stewart had a field day with these old hawks, but much more surprising was Megyn Kelly calling out Dick Cheney for his harangue in the Wall Street Journal.
It's more like the Collapsing Bush Doctrine as we see the fragile "democracy" in Iraq unravel before our eyes. To those who have followed the events before,during and after the war none of this comes as a surprise. Andrew Bacevich has savaged both Bush an d Obama for the war, but has heaped his harshest scorn on the architects of the war, William Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz. You might throw in Richard Perle as well, but he seems to be remarkably quiet these days. Maybe he is taking a page from George Bush, and purposely keeping a low profile.
There is no doubt where this policy of preemptive war sprang from, the only question was could we make a clean withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan without the two countries splintering into warring factions. We had a short period of calm, but this was mostly because the press was no longer covering Iraq after the final withdrawal in December, 2011. So, we weren't made privy to the growing unrest in the country. Kristol and Wolfowitz argue we should have maintained a military presence in the country, like we have in Japan and South Korea, but the withdrawal was entirely planned under the Bush administration. The Obama administration simply carried it out under the guidance of Robert Gates, who had authored the plan under Bush. So maybe these two chicken hawks should take up their criticisms with Gates, not Obama?
Of course, this doesn't suit the rhetorical battle we see today where the hawks insist it was Obama who screwed the pooch. This may play well among their conservative constituency who has refused to see Obama as anything other than an incompetent fool. Lindsey Graham went even further in calling the President "stubborn-headed, delusional and detached." I would get a good chuckle out of this if this idiots didn't take themselves so seriously.
Iraq has been preying on our subconscious ever since 1990 when the country had the audacity to annex Kuwait and President George H.W. Bush pulled together an international coalition to expel Saddam from our friendly oil-rich protectorate. As you no doubt remember, Pere Bush likened Hussein to Hitler, claiming that if he wasn't stopped he would wreak the same havoc in the Middle East that Hitler did in Europe. We were told how Iraq had the fourth largest military in the world and that its vaunted Republican Guard could match the German Nazi army. But, like a much-hyped Super Bowl the Persian Gulf War was over in a matter of relative minutes and the allied forces could have marched right into Baghdad if they wanted to, but Bush kept to the mission, and Kuwait was liberated, albeit hidden under a haze of oil fires.
This war drug on for two decades, with Clinton maintaining no-fly zones over the country while UN weapons inspectors scoured the desolate landscape for the last remnants of Saddam's alleged massive pile of WMD's. Scott Ritter, who served on the IAEA team for 6 years, considered the mission virtually complete in 1997 when Saddam announced he wanted his sovereignty back. This didn't go over very well with the conservative hawks, who pressed Clinton to launch air strikes. Even Tony Blair was pushing Clinton for punitive air strikes in the wake of Hussein's bold defiance, but wisely Clinton kept his distance.
Iraq was a nagging sore point with conservatives throughout Clinton's second term, so when Bush pulled off a surprise victory over Gore in 2000, it was no surprise that these same conservatives began pressing the Bush administration to finish the job in Iraq. Many felt that Dubya's father had blown a golden opportunity to take Hussein out in 1991. We now had Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld looking for any excuse to launch a strike against Iraq that would erase Hussein once and for all. So, they began planting stories in papers that Hussein was buying aluminum tubes and Nigerian "yellowcake" to rebuild his nuclear program, and claiming the Tyrant of Baghdad had hidden nuclear and chemical stockpiles in the vast desert of Iraq.
The only problem is that none of these guys saw beyond Hussein. They imagined a country welcoming us as liberators, and even managed to choreograph a freedom-loving moment with Iraqis tearing down a statue of Hussein in Baghdad just like the Lithuanians had taken down Lenin's statue in Vilnius 10 years before (no thanks to the United States). But, alas what transpired was the return of Iraqi-American carpetbaggers and fake frontmen, who didn't have the respect of the people, along with private armies of defense contractors looking to cash in on the chaos that ensued.
Unfortunately, no one seemed to pay too close attention to the public relations coup this war gave al-Qaeda, which morphed into ISIS in Iraq, and now is mounting major insurgency movements throughout the country, much like the Taliban did in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in the late 1980s. We seemed doomed to repeat our mistakes and those of others time and time again. What a tangled web of deceit we weave. It was refreshing to see Megyn Kelly call out Dick Cheney.