US Interventionist Policy’s Two Catastrophic Moments
US Interventionist Policy’s Two Catastrophic Moments
When the United States waged the Iraq War, which was preceded by the Afghanistan war two years prior, the US accompanied it with an abundance of ideology and military scarcity. Far fewer forces headed to Baghdad than the battles demanded. The alliance that George W. Bush built to this end was feeble when compared to that which his father, George Bush Senior, had built to force the Iraqi army out of Kuwait.
Why such little concern? The excessively optimistic ideological answer: “Saddam is merely a peel over Iraqi society, which wants only democracy. As soon as we enter Iraq, its people will embrace us and shower us with flowers and rice. There, we will see the recurrence of the scenes that unfolded in Germany and Japan after the Second World War, when the two fascist regimes fell and US-engineered and sponsored democracy took hold. What happened in Central and Eastern Europe after the Cold War will repeat itself there; without any fight, countries will rush to embrace democracy.”
“There, we will prove to the world that values and interests can, under ‘humanitarian imperialism,’ complete one another. Iraq will be the theater for a democracy that will swiftly become a model for the peoples of the Middle East. We can thus say good riddance to terrorism, which only despotism invigorates.”
Those theories and arguments were employed to push for the expedition of the departure to Baghdad and left any reservation seeming dubious. The trip is extremely safe. Come on board, European friends, and join us on this guaranteed adventure.
As for Iraq’s sects, ethnicities, and its modern history’s conflicts, no one in Washington wanted to hear about such matters. Talk of the region’s readiness, in its leaders and peoples, to coexist with such a development met the same fate, falling on deaf ears. Talk of how the years of embargo that preceded the war and obliterated the middle class demanded by democracy was also unwelcome.
Everyone looked on with one eye closed. As for instances when insisting on the trip to Baghdad ran up against a scarcity of justifications, lying was the answer. Colin Powell’s lie at the Security Council regarding weapons of mass destruction has entered the lexicon of historical lies.
Later on, it became apparent that the intention to develop a new model in Iraq preceded the crime perpetrated on 9/11 itself. The enthusiasm was gushing, and the revolutionary “neo-conservative” enthusiasts promised that history, which they had in their pockets, would never let them down.
The naïve, historically optimistic scenario was not fated to play out. Ethnicities and sects swiftly showed their teeth. Sunni extremists and Shiite extremists would outdo one another and compete in resisting the US. Some of the neighboring countries took refuge in watching on silently, while others sought refuge in sending bombs and supporting terrorists. Iran seemed to have won the war.
Thus, within weeks, the United States’ war shifted from one of nation-building and establishing democracy to a war on terror. Iraqis were quickly treated with the cruelty one treats an unredeemable creature with. The prisons of Abou Ghraib and Bucca became monuments to the new stage, and that was before blind drones were brought in.
The Iraqis, who had been depicted as the world’s most democracy-loving nation, desperately awaiting its arrival, came to be depicted as the nation most inherently friendly to terrorism. Just as the first view called for expediting intervention, the second view came to call for expediting withdrawal, especially since American public opinion, for its part, was crying out for withdrawal. This tendency has taken many forms, but its purest manifestation remains the withdrawal from Afghanistan that we witnessed a few days ago.
This wishful thinking that accompanies arrivals and departures has led to a perpetual oscillation between idealizing nations and racializing them. The idealization is associated with “rightwing” Arab advisors optimistic about the US’ ability to establish democracy, realize justice and do good; they justify every act of cruelty on the road that will inevitably lead to paradise. Their slogan: get in, intervene as soon as possible, and do everything you can.
As for the second stage’s racism, it is pushed, from a contrarian position, by Arab “leftists” and “post-colonialists” who see that all societies’ vices had been created by the US alone and that evil is the mother of American products. Their slogan: get out as soon as possible with all the strength you came with, and once you leave, the immense goodness of our people will rise to the surface. Between these two voices, there is nothing but the people and elites’ silence, which is interrupted, from time to time, by deafening noise. These are a silence and noise that masterfully mislead the foreign listener after having deeply misled themselves.
“Whichever way you do it, just attack,” scream out the Republicans, whose call is immediately followed by the Democrats screaming, “whichever way you do it, just get out.” The former is marked by an abundance of optimism, and an abundance of pessimism marks the latter. However, those looking for someone like Gertrude Bell and Freya Stark, someone to say the difficult, complicated and knowledgeable things to be said, things that lie in the gray area between attacking and withdrawing; someone to speak about politics, studying things, negotiating, maneuvering, and playing on contradictions, will not find many.