Saturday, June 14, 2014
The Iraqi Collapse and American Responsibility: The Effects of Dennis the Menace Foreign Policy
The Iraqi government is falling to pieces not long after the American government declared their involvement in the country to be over. Iraqis of all backgrounds are taking back parts of the country they believe to be their homeland, and those being pushed back are vowing to defend themselves. Civil war seems unavoidable at this point, but we have to remember where this all started.
Many people seem to have short memories and have decided to place the blame for this eruption of violence on some inherent flaw in the Iraqi people and Islam. But Iraq was stable (although under despotic rule) before the American invasion in 2003. Destroying the physical and social infrastructure of the country has created a void that no new government could fill. The deprivation in Iraq since the invasion has only bred more anger and fed more militant groups.
The situation in Iraq is not all the different from that of Afghanistan, where the government is barely being held together and civil war will eventually tear the country apart long enough for the most hard line of the hard line to come out on top. It is a predictable outcome for what America has been doing in the region for the last 15 years. Change cannot be forced from the outside, and any government put in from the outside will not be considered legitimate.
In Iraq and Afghanistan the hard line groups are now making a comeback because the inserted governments are not equipped to defend their territory and they are seen as stooges of the Americans. When you have a situation like this and a lack of understanding about the shaky balance of power between religious and ethnic groups in a place like Iraq the end result will never be pretty. One group will always feel disenfranchised.
American intervention without proper planning or understanding is a fools errand and American presence in these places has only caused a feeling among the people that it is a new crusade; a war against Islam and its followers. It is easy to brush off religious extremists as insane and blood thirsty but they are a product of the extremism of the war on terror. The war on terror is creating more terrorists.
What the war has done essentially is to remove "bad guys" without a plan and in the end they will be replaced with even worse guys. You cannot conduct Dennis the Menace style foreign policy and not expect it to have long term consequences. You cannot turn your back on the people suffering because it's no longer politically expedient to be involved anymore.
The American public is shrugging their shoulders now saying that the Iraqis have to get their own house in order but American foreign policy has created this quagmire, and eventually there will be wider consequences outside of the Middle East.
This should be a harsh lesson, however it is not much different than the disastrous Vietnam War. The Americans lost that war and they have lost this one. Now it's time to pack up and leave after the damage has been done, and let the victims be the ones to sort out the mess left behind. Perhaps it is impossible to learn lessons from history.
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