President Obama recently sent a small contingent of American troops back into Iraq in order to support a weak and corrupt Iraqi regime that has been losing territory to a group of rebel fighters known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The ISIS is a spin-off of the rebel fighters that have been allied with the American CIA in its covert war against Syria. Interestingly enough, groups like ISIS are labeled "rebels" when they fight for America and "terrorists" the moment they cross the line. The lesson in all of this is the same one that has been repeating itself time and again over the last half century in the Middle East: interventionism causes more problems than it solves. The latest drumbeat for even more war is being banged on behalf of the American puppet-democracy in Iraq, and the American government is doing what it does best: refusing to mind its own business. Is it possible that the United States could ever return to a foreign policy that involves the legitimate defense of the United States and its territories – nothing more, nothing less? This would cost less, achieve more, and facilitate peaceful relationships. Here are three reasons to stay utterly uninvolved with Iraq.
Reason 1: The central government of Iraq is the problem – supporting it makes the problem worse. Iraq’s modern history is one in which a particular group (Sunni, Shia, or Kurd) uses the central government as a mechanism for oppression of the other groups. Under Saddam the government was controlled by the Sunnis. Now, under al-Maliki, it is controlled by the Shia. The end-state is predictable, consistent, and corrupt. Iraq would be much better off if it was partitioned and the various ethnic groups controlled their own territory. This does not require further American meddling. It is already happening in the northeast of Iraq where the Kurds run a semi-autonomous government and have been yearning for independence for decades. ISIS is making gains as a guerrilla force but only because it garners the support of local Sunnis who feel oppressed by Baghdad. At some point ISIS would likely face a backlash of moderate Sunni vigilantes if their attempts to govern were severely out of tune with local customs. Further, ISIS may have the ability to pay off corrupt central government commanders but would face a formidable foe with the various Shia militia in vicinity of Baghdad. The idea that ISIS will take over Baghdad is unlikely for this reason. Further American meddling simply denies the local ethnic groups the ability to govern themselves and delays the inevitable failure of the American puppet democracy.
Reason 2: American policy is hypocritical and ineffective. In the short term, intervention seems like a reasonable response to stop atrocities and engender stability. In the long run, it is counterproductive and likely to make a bad situation much worse. A few relevant examples in the Middle East: First, in the 1950s the U.S. overthrew a democratically elected Iranian government and installed a tyrant (the Shah). The Iranian revolution, the American hostage crisis of the 1970s, and the present day broken international relationship with Iran are direct consequences of this "policy." In the 1980s the US supported "rebels" like Osama bin Laden against the Soviets in Afghanistan. We all know how that worked out. As for Iraq, Saddam Hussein was considered a terrorist in the early 1980s. In 1982 he was taken off the "terrorist list" by the Ronald Reagan administration so that the United States could supply him with support in the Iran-Iraq war (which Saddam officially started by invading Iran on 22 September 1980). Iraq is well-known to have used chemical weapons (such as mustard gas) against Iranian troops, Iraqi Kurds, and civilians during the decade long war. Hundreds of thousands died. All the while Iraq was garnering US support. In the 1990s when Iraq attacked Kuwait for overproducing their OPEC oil quota, the United States flipped sides and invaded Iraq. In 2003, the excuse for Invasion Part Two was WMD…the same stuff Saddam was using when the US backed him against Iran. The hypocrisy is endless and the ironclad law of unintended consequences is obvious.
Reason 3: The American presence in the Middle East is a recruiting tool for terrorism. Here’s an idea: if you want to drive the crazies crazy, station a bunch of troops in the Arabian Peninsula. That way, instead of one Osama Bin Laden, we can have 10,000. It is time we start realizing why there are no terrorists lined up to bomb Switzerland – they mind their own business.
The United States should not send a single troop back to Iraq. It is long past time the United States military return to the only territory it has a legitimate reason to inhabit: the United States.
Justin Pavoni is a former Air Force officer and F-15E evaluator pilot. Pavoni has deployed twice to Afghanistan, served as a Special Operations liaison, and has flown 550 combat hours.