Preview: Chaos in Iraq

The escalating bloodbath in Iraq has triggered renewed debate on how muscular America’s foreign policy should be. Earlier today, Iraq requested that the US launch air strikes against jihadist militants who over the past week have taken control of several key cities. President Obama also is set to discuss the crisis in Iraq with senior members of Congress.

This week, Bill speaks with combat veteran and historian Andrew Bacevich about the events unfolding in Iraq and what they say about America’s role in the world.

In a poll released Tuesday, 74 percent of Americans said they supported President Obama’s decision, announced last week, that he will not send US ground forces back into Iraq. Obama has not yet made a decision about attacking insurgents through airstrikes, but some neoconservatives lament that our “world order shows signs of cracking, and perhaps collapsing,” thanks to Obama’s inclination to engage less in other countries, Bacevich sees things differently.

“If Americans appear disinclined to have a go at overthrowing Syria’s Assad or at restoring the Crimea to Ukranian control, it’s due to their common-sense assessment of what US policy in very recent years has produced,” Bacevich recently wrote. Our foreign policy in Iraq has “destabilized much of the greater Middle East while exacerbating anti-Americanism across the Islamic world.”

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  • Jim S.

    The bushco and conservative congresses totally destroyed that
    pandora’s box and what was forecast to happen, once again from our
    policies in our names, is happening!! And yes Saddam was a brutal tyrant
    but he was a great friend of daddy bush CIA and an asset of, like bin
    Laden, and many that came in with jr bush, reason he had to go, he knew
    too much about them all!! The supporters then want to resend our
    military into, they just don’t want to serve in nor Sacrifice anything
    themselves, Poser Patriots!!
    It was Real Easy for the bushco, and
    conservative rubber stamping congresses, to lead the Abandoning of the
    Missions and those sent so Quickly after 9/11 and Greatly expanding the
    recruiting and ideologies of the al Qaeda style international criminal
    terrorism to other regions, and with the backing of 70%plus of the
    country who still haven’t paid for either!! As well as once again
    ignoring their Responsibility to fully fund the VA, ignoring so many
    issues, for the decade plus and the previous decades and wars from,
    DeJa-Vu all over again, while this VA leadership with help from the
    whole Executive Brach is building what the country should already
    have!!! All the country walked from Accountability!!

    Iraq War Promoted Terrorism Rather Than Reducing It

    April 2014 – Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War promoted terrorism
    rather than reducing it and was a “strategic failure”, according to a
    major new report which estimated the cost of all UK conflicts since the
    end of the Cold War.
    The Royal United Services Institute said the UK
    could face a bill of nearly £65bn, once the cost of long-term care for
    injured veterans was factored in, with most of the money was spent on
    the wars
    in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    The study, called Wars in Peace, said both conflicts were largely “strategic failures” for the UK, The Guardian reported.”

    The British Iraq War Inquiry

    the above link, soon to be released and with redacted bush/blair
    private conversations which have been holding up the release, is the
    site of the often called ‘Chilcot Inquiry’, you will find these from the
    early public testimony:

    24 November 2009 – Even before Bush’s
    administration came to power an article written by his then national
    security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, warned that “nothing will change” in
    Iraq until Saddam was gone

    27 November 2009 – But there was a
    ‘sea change’ in attitude after the atrocities, with former national
    security adviser Condoleezza Rice targeting Iraq on the very day of the

    30 November 2009 – George Bush tried to make a connection
    between Iraq and al-Qaida in a conversation with Tony Blair three days
    after the 9/11 attacks, according to Blair’s foreign policy adviser of
    the time.

    1 December 2009 – There was “a touching belief [in
    Washington] that we shouldn’t worry so much about the aftermath because
    it was all going to be sweetness and light”.

    3 December 2009 –
    Boyce mentions the “dysfunctionalism” of Washington. He says that he
    would find himself briefing his American counterparts on what was
    happening in different parts of the US administration. Rumsfeld was not
    sharing information

    USN All Shore GMG3 ’67-’71 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent **

  • Lemoncookies

    “Our foreign policy in Iraq has “destabilized much of the greater Middle East while exacerbating anti-Americanism across the Islamic world.””

    This is not only false but morally bankrupt. The ISIS militants are fighting to create just what their acronym states: an Islamic state, i.e. a theocracy where democracy and the rule of law are replaced by a dictatorship of Mullahs and Sharia law. Do they want this merely because the US hurt their feelings somehow? No, they are driven by an extremist religious ideology hellbent on seizing political power by force. They have destabilized the region, not the US. They exacerbate anti-Americanism because America has delivered a crippling blow to their efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    This doesn’t mean the war wasn’t horribly mismanaged (it was) or that the Bush administration’s motives for going into it were pure (they weren’t), but this nonsense about how America is at fault for waging a war against its declared enemies really needs to stop. Are we honestly going to let Baghdad, and thereby the democracy in Iraq we helped create with American blood, fall because we’re worried about anti-American sentiment? Hatred of Bush and his other policies (the vast majority of which were doubtless quite disastrous) somehow clouded the minds of most people on the left, including its intellectuals, so that they opposed the war, but they did so and oppose intervention now at the cost of their integrity and moral consistency. Remember, before the war started, it was the right wing establishment who were against it (Kissinger, Buchanan, etc).

    And just in case there was any doubt, this is coming from a self proclaimed democratic socialist, so I’m about as left as they come. It’s sad to see Moyers and Co. jump on this particular “liberal” cause, which has been promulgated as such primarily by Democratic politicians who needed something to run against the Republicans on as well as the mainstream media (who reasoned that because the war was conducted by a sitting Republican president, surely those on the left must be against it, therefore they shall be against it thanks to their power to shape public opinion), an ironic fact considering Moyers otherwise so valiantly resits their corrupting influence.

  • Michael Carolus

    I oppose spending any more billions on this mess. NATO and the United Nastions can be the world police for a few decades while the USA gets our stuff together.

  • jcs

    It was the LIES of Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the cronies in that administration that led to our invasion of Iraq. That invasion was TOTALLY unjustified.

    Hussein had control of Iraq, meaning he kept the religious factions at bay and the country was stable.

    When we threw Hussein out, we blew the lid right OFF of that stability and the religious war started all over again (its been going on for centuries).

    So, YES, America TOTALLY destabilized Iraq and the most of the countries around it. Period.

    Bush’s policies and invasion basically destroyed Iraq. We spent BILLIONS to try to ‘rebuild’ it (profits for that went straight to Halliburton and thus straight into Cheney’s pocketbook).

    We need to STAY OUT of Iraq and STAY OUT of the middle east! We are NOT the world’s policemen!

  • Anonymous

    Why should we listen to a retired combat veteran and military historian when we are able to access the sage advice of former VP and Halliburton exec Dick Cheney??

  • Anonymous

    Will you be there as the body bags come off the planes in Delaware? Take you head out of your butt or go to Iraq and join their cowardice Army that won’t fight for their country after we “democratized” the country with the loss of 4500 American soldiers. This is a “no brainer”!

  • Arthur C. Hurwitz

    The creation of an independent Ukraine state, which was one of the explicit goals of U.S. Cold War foreign policy, is responsible for the conflict with Russia. Likewise, if the U.S. did not “break” Iraq by invading it and deposing Sadaam Hussein, then there would be no need to worry about what is happening there now…

  • Anonymous

    But American Taxpayers are the long time majority funders of these two groups. We could have long ago instituted the various excellent social programs that the citizens of many Western European countries enjoy if the American taxpayers hadn’t been forced to fund NATO and the U.S. Military Industrial Complex that provides much of the military defense for Europeans. This situation long ago freed European Governments to fund an array of excellent social programs for their citizens that Americans can only dream about !

  • Anonymous

    It will be truly refreshing to hear again from Andrew Bacevich rather than suffering through the parade of poisonous toads, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Graham, McCain etc who have been on the airwaves lately.

  • Anonymous

    sarcasm I hope….sage is hardly adequate for the known unknown. Nancy R

  • Anonymous

    thank ;you. agree totally. Nancy R

  • Anonymous

    The world has “gone mad” ……. yet again!!!!!! When will we ever learn?

  • Susan Brewer

    I agree with Bacevich. War serves U.S. self-interest ONLY – the problem itself must be framed ouside of that context.

  • JC

    This is like Viet Nam all over again…except worse. This is a sectarian, religious, and political war. Our “boots on the ground” would only exacerbate the situation and wind up with more unnecessary deaths. Contrary to the neocons who want to put boots on the ground (remember them? they’re the ones who lied us into this morass in the first place), we should stay out and work toward securing the borders and let this work its way through what it will become. By securing the borders and getting the help of neighboring countries (excluding Syria-that’s a whole ‘nother problem), we at least prevent these factions from moving further. By using smart intel, we can contain those who would travel outside the area to wreck havoc on other countries. We should offer humanitarian aid to other countries in the region who are willing to take on massive refugees (currently happening).
    Going into this “quagmire” at this time is a guarantee for more of the same. We’ve paid too dear a price already in lives lost, lives permanently changed, and money and equipment squandered.
    Stay out….and help Iran go in and clean up the mess after these factions slaughter each other. In a way, Iran could become an important ally here…as long as they promise not to take over the country.
    We never should have gone there to begin with and, people like Dick Cheney should take their current criticism and put it where the sun doesn’t shine. (Viet Nam vet)