10 Years After The US Invasion Now There Are Terrorist Bases In Iraq President Obama will have to provide military assistance to the weak Iraqi government, so that al Qaeda can be defeated. This is the outcome of the War in Iraq that was supposed to prevent terror threats originating from that country

By Paolo von Schirach

November 2, 2013

WASHINGTON – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki came to Washington, hat in hand, begging President Obama to help him fight al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq. The visit was low-key. No press conference. That said, the ugly truth is that two years after the “end of the war in Iraq” the war did not really end. Sure enough, there are no more US combat troops there, and this means no more litany of American casualties recited every day in the evening news. This is good for domestic politics. But the Iraq problem was not “resolved”. It did not go away. In fact, it has become worse, much worse.

Iraq is a mess

The Iraqi Shia majority, it seems, has not figured out a way to integrate the Sunni minority (they used to rule the country) into the new post-Saddam order. And so there is serious, and growing sectarian fighting. Bombs, big bombs go off almost daily, in several cities. Thousands of casualties. And in this almost lawless mess we have a reappearance of Islamic fundamentalists. The Western part of Iraq is now the Wild West. The Baghdad government has lost control. Hence al-Maliki’s request for help. Well, this is the brand new democratic Iraq brought about the US 2003 invasion. A weak government, strongly feeling Iranian influence, that is losing control; while terrorists control part of the country.

The rationale for the US 2003 invasion

This sorry mess is in large part the outcome of George Bush’s naive Iraq adventure that started in March of 2003. Let’s remember the facile way in which the ill-famed neo-conservatives who were running US security policies in the Bush administration described the  Iraq problem.

We were told that Saddam Hussein was a huge menace. We were told that he had massive stockpiles of WMDs. We were told that he was just a few steps away from acquiring nuclear weapons. And, most ominously, we were told that he was likely to hand over WMDs to terror groups so that they could use them against the US. However, on the bright side, we were also told that “regime change” in Iraq would be a matter of quick, almost painless surgery.

Easy war

The US forces would go in, they would “decapitate” the Baathist regime, bring in pro-Western Iraqi leaders who had some kind of government in exile, hand the keys over to them, and go home. The new Iraqi democratic leaders would do the rest. They would quickly establish democracy, rule of law, and freedom of expression. And the whole thing would cost almost nothing, as Iraq is sitting on oil and therefore perfectly capable of paying for the cost of any transition.

Last but not least, the huge bonus of this surgically implemented “regime change” would have been the introduction of genuine democracy in the heart of the Middle East. Seeing Iraq’s success story many other countries would have followed suit. And in no time the Middle East would have been transformed. Amazing! Pro-Western democracy for all, at the speed of light!

The plan did not work

We know that none of that happened. And this should be a cautionary tale about the limits of power. Sure enough we had the means to defeat Saddam Hussein. And we did. But we had no clue about how to handle the aftermath. None whatsoever. Not to mention that all the intelligence we had was wrong. All of it. Saddam was a dictator running a police state. But he was no direct threat to the United States. He did not have any WMDs,  and he did not have any ties with Islamic terrorists.

Now there is al Qaeda in Iraq

But now, 10 years after the invasion of Iraq, the irony is that we do have al Qaeda in Iraq. And we have it because Washington left behind a semi-democratic but very weak Iraq, now torn by sectarian violence. Al Qaeda is simply taking advantage of this weakness to insert itself into Iraq.  

And now President Obama, even if reluctantly, will have to give serious consideration to providing critical military assistance to Prime Minister al-Maliki, who has proven to be no real friend of the United States. Otherwise, if the US takes no action, al Qaeda has every opportunity to establish itself in lawless Iraq, just as Osama bin Laden established his own bases and training camps in Afghanistan back in the 1990s. 

Saddam Hussein was a nasty individual. But from the stand point of US national security he was a far lesser problem than the lawlessness that the American invasion of Iraq created.

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