In June of 2014 the world watched in shock as an Islamic militant group operating under the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or ISIS), took control of Mosul, Baiji and Tikrit and began pushing south to Baghdad. Fallujah has been under their control since January.
[Note they are also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL]
Iraqi military and police put up very little resistance in spite of the fact that they greatly outnumbered the militants. Most fled their posts and left their uniforms and weapons behind, those who didn't were killed.
ISIS, whose stated goal is to erase the border between Syria and Iraq, to establish an Islamic Caliphate encompassing both countries, and to impose sharia law, already holds vast swaths of territory, and they are rapidly gaining ground.
How did this happen?
That's an extremely important question. How you answer it will determine what comes next, and not just in Iraq. That's why the media spin doctors and politicians are out in force attempting to rewrite history, and turning reality completely on its head in the process.
For example we have people insisting this is happening because the U.S. and NATO failed to intervene in Syria.
Well that's a convenient answer isn't it?
The U.S. and NATO have been actively working to topple Assad by arming and funding the Syrian rebels since 2011. This has developed into a bloody civil war which has attracted Jihadists from all over the world. It has also created a vacuum of power which enabled groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra to organize and establish physical strongholds.
The U.S. claims to only be arming the "moderate" rebels, however, the leadership of the Free Syrian Army (aka the FSA) has stated that they regularly carry out joint operations with Al-Qaeda and its affiliates. Up until recently ISIS was a branch of Al-Qaeda. In February of this year Al-Qaeda's official leadership publicly disavowed ISIS due to their brutal tactics. That's why ISIS is referred to as a splinter group. Furthermore, we know for a fact that the majority of the weapons and funding from the U.S. and its allies are ending up in the hands of Jihadists, and U.S. officials have been aware of this since 2012. But don't take my word for it, go read this article from the New York Times yourself.
Do the math folks. ISIS would have never gotten a foothold Syria if the U.S. hadn't weakened the Syrian government, and the weapons they are using right now... were most likely paid for with your tax dollars.
But wait, this isn't just about Syria is it? It's also about Iraq. Which brings us to the other deranged narrative that is being promoted right now: that this chaos is unfolding because U.S. military withdrew prematurely in 2011.
You see Iraq is in ruins and unable to defend itself, because the U.S. military left the party too early. It's not because the Bush administration and the mainstream media convinced the public that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was planning to use them. It's not because the U.S. invaded Iraq on these false pretenses, disbanding the Iraqi army and police, and reducing the country to rubble in an attempt to put down the resulting insurgency. No, it's because eight years of military occupation wasn't enough.
To those who fought there, it's a punch in the gut to see your sacrifice was for nothing, but the occupation of Iraq was never going to end well, and the Bush administration knew that it wouldn't. But don't take my word for it. Let's take a look at this clip of Dick Cheney from 1994.
That was very astute Dick. You accurately predicted the mess you were going to help create in 2003. I would even venture to say that your predictions were more accurate than those who warned against this adventure. I'm impressed.
Now you'll notice that the talking heads of the left and the right are all trying to frame this crisis as the fault of the other side. They're both right.
Both sides of the aisle have blood on their hands, and this goes way beyond Bush and Obama. The United States has been tinkering in Iraq for a long, long time. In fact it was the CIA that put Saddam Hussein in power in 1963. Don't take my word for it, go read this article from the New York Times.
The U.S. government also backed Saddam in 1980 when he launched a war of aggression against Iran, even though they knew that he was using chemical weapons. But again don't take my word for it, go read this article by Foreign Policy magazine.
Fast forward to 1990. Saddam Hussein was embroiled in a dispute with Kuwait over oil prices and borders and he was considering taking action. Given America's support in the war against Iran, Saddam had no reason to believe that Kuwait would be any different, but just to be sure, he decided to consult with Washington first.
On July 25th of 1990 U.S. ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie met with Saddam Hussein. In the meeting Saddam described his case against Kuwait and told Glaspie that he viewed their activities as an act of military aggression. Glaspie responded by saying “We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait”, and she reinforced this by saying "this issue is not associated with America" Naturally Saddam interpreted this as a green light, and eight days later he invaded.
Later, when questioned in hearings, Glaspie claimed that though this quote was accurate, she had followed it up by insisting that Iraq settle its dispute non-violently.
However that's not what shows up in the transcripts of the conversation released by the New York Times. According to the transcript she said "All that we hope is that these issues are solved quickly."
But maybe this was just an innocent diplomatic blunder right? Well not quite.
As soon as Saddam entered Kuwait the U.S. government launched a very interesting propaganda campaign to build up public support for a war. They claimed that Iraqi troops were slaughtering little babies by throwing them out of their incubators in hospitals, and they brought in teary eyed witnesses who testified to having seen the massacres.
Just one problem… the entire event was fabricated. It never happened. This woman who presented herself as a witness was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States and her testimony was part of a public relations campaign organized by a company called Hill and Knowlton.
Once public support for the war was strong, the incubators story was dropped, and never mentioned again.
The U.S. invaded Iraq in 1991. During that war the U.S. military utilized approximately 640,000 pounds of Depleted Uranium ammunition. The Iraq was decimated, but the U.S. left Saddam in power.
The war didn't ever really end though. The U.S. kept Iraq under a draconian sanctions regime that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children. Clinton kept those sanctions in place for the entire duration of his presidency, and they knew what was happening.
You know how they say "those who don't know history are destined to repeat it"? That's really not an exaggeration.
Fast forward to 2003 and the Kuwaiti incubator story was swapped out for stories of mobile missile silos and yellow cake uranium.
And when it turned out that those weapons of mass destruction didn't exist, they acted like it was no big deal.
Then of course came Obama, riding in on promises of hope and change. But we saw how Obama toppled Libya in 2011, leaving that nation in utter chaos. Gaddafi was then killed in a rather gruesome fashion.
Before NATO brought down Gaddafi Libya had the highest standard of living in all of Africa. Now it's a perpetual war-zone. And of course we've seen how Obama has funded and armed the Syrian rebels in an attempt to bring down Assad.
Obama is operating from the same playbook, and yes there is a playbook.
Fortunately the future is not set in stone. We can influence the outcome, and we already are. We proved that in 2013 when both the left and the right dropped their petty bickering and unified against Obama's proposal to use airstrikes against Assad.
The pattern of deceit was the same, but this time the people didn't fall for it. The fact that we had the U.N. investigator Carla Del Ponte come out to say that the Syrian rebels were behind the sarin gas attacks helped, the fact that Putin short circuited the U.S. diplomatically helped, but the determining factor was the popular resistance, particularly the signs of discontent from within the military. You see, the ruling class is very hesitant to take a nation to war if the people and the military strongly oppose it. That's why the first casualty of war is always the truth.
What's going on in Iraq right now is horrific. ISIS is already committing atrocities against civilians on a massive scale. Inexplicably the Obama administration did not provide the Iraqi military with immediate air support even after the fall of Mosul. I say inexplicably, not because I support airstrikes, but because on June 12th, the U.S. Military conducted its second drone strike this month in Pakistan. Why would Obama refuse to act in Iraq when civilians are being massacred, while employing drones in Pakistan without hesitation?
I'll tell you why. Because the outrage over the atrocities that the ISIS is committing may be enough to provide the U.S. government with a backdoor into Syria.
You see It turns out that Obama is considering airstrikes, but not just in Iraq. He wants to extend those strikes into Syria as well. Well, that's convenient isn't it? Once the U.S. military is able to freely conduct operations in Syrian territory getting the regime change that they will be much, much easier.
[UPDATED August 8th]: On August 7th, 2014 Obama announced that airstrikes are imminent in Iraq, and as of August 8th we are hearing reports that the bombing has already begun in northern Iraq. Make no mistake, this will not end in Iraq. This is just the opening act. Remember ISIS holds territory in both Iraq and Syria.
It's the classic formula Problem, Reaction, Solution.
They created the problem, they are letting the public react and build up outrage, and then they are going to propose a "solution" that will sow the seeds for another generation of conflicts.
To short circuit this pattern the public needs to come to terms with the cold hold hard truth.
No matter what the U.S. does, and no matter how long they stay, there is no happy ending to this story. The chaos that we're seeing in this region is the direct result of half a century of U.S. military interventions and covert operations in the Middle East. It's time to acknowledge that bombing for peace doesn't work, regime change for stability doesn't work, and you can't fix a mistake by repeating it over and over.
If the U.S. honestly wants to stop the spread of Islamic terrorism, then they should stop funding and arming Jihadists in Syria. That would be a good starting point don't you think?
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