Back to Baghdad!
NEW YORK – One would think the neoconservatives who engineered the Iraq War – the worst disaster for the United States since Vietnam – would never emerge from hiding.
Not so. With dazzling chutzpah, former Vice President Dick Cheney, the real power in the Bush administration, just claimed President Barack Obama was responsible for the growing mess in Iraq.
Obama is a wimp allowing America’s foes to run rampant across the Mideast and Eastern Europe, growled Cheney. He wants US troops to reoccupy Iraq, and maybe Syria. Cheney’s blustering was applauded by another over-the-hill dotard, Republican party leader Sen. John McCain.
Out from the Washington woodwork crept a swarm of neoconservatives. They joined Cheney in blasting Obama over Iraq and calling for more wars against the Muslim world.
It’s a pity Americans don’t call these war-drum beaters by their proper name. In Britain, they would be known as Imperialists and Empire Loyalists. The Republican Party has in effect become the American Imperialist Party allied to the ardently pro-Israel neoconservatives.
Both parties want to see the American Global Empire enforced and expanded. So wrote Dick Cheney in a op-ed piece trumpeted by the house organ of the hard right, the Wall Street Journal, a violent diatribe against Obama that would have made Mussolini blush.
Now, President Obama faces a grave decision. As Baghdad’s army wavers before Sunni assaults, he is deploying limited US airpower and 300 US troops to blunt the jihadist/Ba’athist advance. Besides killing many civilians, air attacks will outrage Saudi Arabia and much of the Sunni Muslim world. Obama knows that America must not be seen as the champion of Iraq’s Shia against the Sunni minority.
The Saudis are openly warning Obama not to intervene in Iraq. Meanwhile, Iran is beginning to send ground forces into Iraq, to the fury of Saudi Arabia and Israel. Cooperation between Washington and Tehran over Iraq is likely to have a positive effect on US-Iranian nuclear negotiations.
So Obama is hedging his bets by sending the token 300 US Special Forces to Baghdad as ‘advisors,’ as if Iraq, which had been at war since 1980, needed more training or advice. Air and/or drone strikes are due any minutes.
What Obama is really doing is sending ‘white’ officers to stiffen the spines of wavering native troops.
Interestingly, Obama finds himself in the same type of imperial dilemma faced by Britain’s PM Gladstone in 1885. In that year, Britain’s imperial general Charles ‘Chinese’ Gordon went to Khartoum, Sudan, to lead the fight against Islamic jihadists known as Dervishes. Their leader, Mohammed Ahmed, aka the Mahdi, became a paramount Victorian villain akin to our era’s Osama bin Laden.
Gordon was trying to shame Gladstone into sending a British Army up the Nile to relieve Khartoum. Like Obama, Gladstone wanted to avoid imperial adventures but was eventually forced by jingoistic public outcry to send an army to Sudan, though not before Gordon was killed and became a Victorian Christian martyr. The fall of Khartoum to the Dervishes was the 9/11 of the Victorian Age.
What’s really at stake here is oil. Some 8,000 jihadists and resurgent Ba’ath Party militants are no threat to the US, as Obama claims. They are, however, a dire threat to Big Oil.
Saddam Hussein nationalized Iraq’s oil and kicked out its foreign owners. As soon as he was deposed, the US and other foreign oil firms moved back in to pump Iraq’s black gold. As Dick Cheney said, Iraq was invaded for the sake of “Israel and oil.”
Meanwhile, the White House is fast yanking the carpet out from under the wretched Nouri al-Maliki’s feet, all but warning him to quit or else. Shia generals are already planning how to redecorate Maliki’s office. Fresh from picking a new government in Kiev, the US is now deep into Iraqi king-making.
Remember Henry Kissinger’s pithy quip, “it’s more dangerous being America’s ally than its enemy.”
Maliki will be the next useless puppet to be swept aside by Uncle Sam. Whichever CIA “asset” that takes power in Kabul will face a similar threat. Both Iraq’s and Afghanistan’s armies are paid to wear uniforms, not to actually fight.
Meanwhile, few Americans are yet aware that the Iraq War cost over $1 trillion – financed by loans from China and Japan. – that our grandchildren will be paying.
Those neocons baying for war have not so far offered to make personal contributions to a greater war effort. Few will recall that Vietnam began with small numbers of US “advisors.”
© 2014 Eric Margolis