Iraq–17 Years Of Chaos

My writings on foreign policy have suffered while I try to help my readers come to grips with this virus thing……but I still read my international news daily……

Our second longest war started with chaos and has done little to change that diagnosis.

We went to Iraq to help the people achieve democracy……that is the government’s story and they are sticking to it.

Actually that is one of the biggest lies….but Hell what’s new?

It all started with a take down of Saddam….then it fell into chaos that lead to the creation and the fight with ISIS….then they were all but defeated and the people started protesting the treatment of the government……and 17 years later Americans are still dying.

Let’s look at those 17 long years…..

Last week saw the seventeenth anniversary of the ill-fated US-led invasion of Iraq that led to the reported deaths of millions of Iraqis, the destruction of much of the country’s infrastructure, and the establishment of an unstable democratic system.

Iraq’s political system has been fraught with instability and has incubated almost two decades of corruption leading to several protest movements and the rise of violent Islamist militant groups, including many Shia militias who operate as part of the state security apparatus.

The Islamic State group was also born out of the sectarianism and violence that has been emblematic of the Iraqi political process since 2003, which has seen a succession of weak governments and a legislature divided along sectarian quotas.

Today’s protest movement – ongoing since October of last year – has aimed to disrupt the cycle of corrupt political appointments, nepotism, and political actors who are beholden to both Iran and the United States.

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2020/3/23/iraq-still-in-chaos-17-years-after-us-invasion

But what has been learned from this adventure?

One man’s look that originally supported the war…..

“Man’s real treasure is the treasure of his mistakes, piled up stone by stone through thousands of years,” according to Jose Ortega y Gasset, the great Spanish philosopher of the early twentieth century. For to remember the past in all its searing complexity is what separates us from the apes, Ortega goes on. By that logic, the Iraq War, which started seventeen years ago this month, should constitute among the crown jewels of knowledge and insight in American foreign policy circles.

What lessons do I take away from my support of the Iraq War?

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/9-lessons-iraq-war-134567

But did the government learn from these things? 

My thought is NO!

We learned nothing from Vietnam and I feel we have learned nothing from our Iraq misadventure.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

News From Iraq

Sadly we have people still fighting and dying in Iraq and the MSM has little time to cover the situation which is getting worse by the month.

First thought is that there is a NEW group of “bad guys”…..

New Iraqi Group Claims Responsibility For Camp Taji Attack

A new Iraqi military group has claimed responsibility for the March 11 Camp Taji attack, which claimed the lives of three U.S.-led coalition service members.

In an official statement released on March 15, the group, dubbed Ausbat al-Thaayirin (AT), confirmed its responsibility for the recent rocket attacks on Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops.

“In response to the request of our Mujahedeen brothers … we declare that the blessed operations [the shelling of occupation bases] are our operations, and we fear no one by announcing this,” the statement reads.

A few days ago, Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) released a statement calling on the perpetrators of the recent attacks to reveal themselves, promising to support them. KH was held responsible for these attacks by the U.S.

AT appears to be a pro-Iranian Shiite group. The group vowed to respond to the assassination of Popular Mobilization Unties (PMU) Deputy-Commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Maj. Gen. Qassam Soleimani, Commander of Iran’s Quds Force.

“The assassination of our martyr leaders is heat in our chests, a motive for our conscious that will not trail off until the withdrawal of the occupying forces in a humiliating and degrading manner,” the group said.

The U.S. carried out a series of strikes on Iraq on March 13 in response to Camp Taji attack. The strikes hit positions of the PMU, the Iraqi military and police.

AT’s statement is yet to be verified. More information about the mysterious group will likely appear in the coming months.

(South Front)

More Allied airstrikes…..and more confusion…..

Iraqi President Barham Salih issued a statement Friday angrily condemning a flurry of US airstrikes, saying they amounted to repeated violations of Iraqi sovereignty and threatened to provoke dangerous consequences.

Salih added that the US attacks amount to a “dangerous and deliberate weakening of its abilities especially at a time when Iraq faces unprecedented challenges.” Indeed, that the president is the one making responses at all shows the position Iraq is in. Normally this would be the purview of the PM, but Iraq simply doesn’t have one. The PM-designate has resigned, and the acting PM also resigned in recent weeks.

The US attacks targeted Iraqi PMF militia Kataib Hezbollah, and US officials insist they were “terrorist bases” that were legitimate to hit. The PMF is part of the Iraqi government, despite the US sense that they can attack them with impunity.

Salih’s big warning though was that in this current situation, Iraq could simply unravel under US pressure, ending up a failed state, and potentially fueling an ISIS resurgence.

These consequences seem lost on US officials, likely reflecting US rhetoric presenting the PMF as “Iranian-backed” groups, instead of what they are, militias under the Iraqi government that are heavily active in anti-ISIS operations.

(antiwar.com)

The attack was done by the new group and yet we attacked those supposedly not involved….good policy that should make us more friends.

These airstrikes not only attacked someone not necessarily involved in the attack but we killed our allies as well……Iraq’s military said US airstrikes in the south of the country killed three Iraqi soldiers, two police officers, and one civilian. On Friday, US officials said they launched airstrikes in Southern Iraq against targets where weapons are stored by Kataib Hezbollah, a Shi’ite militia group. 

Iraqi officials also said five members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) were injured in the most recent US airstrikes. The PMF is an umbrella organization of Iraqi militias that have fought together against ISIS since 2014. Kataib Hezbollah is a member of the PMF.

Then there is the war of words……

According to State Department officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called former Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Sunday, demanding that the Iraqi government defend US troops who are stationed on the ground in Iraq.

Pompeo told Abdul Mahdi that the government needs to hold militias responsible for attacking US forces accountable, and threatened further US military action “in self-defense” in more attacks happened. On Sunday, more rockets hit a US base, wounding three troops.

This is generally the US position, evinced by US attacks on militia bases last week after the US decided to blame that militia for a previous rocket attack. The US has blamed those militias and labeled them “Iran-backed, though in practice they are Shi’ite groups who are part of the Iraqi government.

Even less clear is what the point of Pompeo telling that to Abdul Mahdi was, as he’s resigned twice in the last few months, both times amid mounting US tensions. First he resigned after parliament voted to expel the US and the US threatened to bankrupt the country with sanctions. Abdul Mahdi agreed to serve as acting-PM until a replacement was decided on, then earlier this month he resigned from that as well.

Iraq’s president has been making comments recently, since he’s the only top figure still in power, but Pompeo seems to hope that Abdul Mahdi has enough political influence to at least pass the message along.

(antiwar.com)

So our policy is to threaten then attack our ally, right?

But the animosities between Iran and the US has Iraq in the middle of the conflict……and that could lead to more instability in the nation and a rapid rise of more terrorism….

https://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_escalation_nation_iraq_and_the_us_iran_rivalry

If they are not an ally then what the Hell are we still doing in country?

The situation in the Middle East is still the most confusing situation on the planet.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scriblo”

Syria: 10 Year Anniversary

Ten years ago this month, 15 March, to be exact….Syrians took to the streets as part of what the media entitled the Arab Spring….Syrians were protesting for a better nation….little did the know that they had stared down a path that would bring about the destruction of “norm” for the nation.

Syria’s brutal conflict enters its 10th year Sunday with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime consolidating its hold over a war-wracked country with a decimated economy where foreign powers flex their muscle.

When Syrians took to the streets on March 15, 2011, they could scarcely have imagined their anti-government protests would turn into a complex war entangling rebels, jihadists and outside forces.

At least 384,000 people have since died, including more than 116,000 civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said Saturday.

The conflict has displaced more than 11 million people internally and abroad.

https://www.afp.com/en/news/3954/syrias-brutal-war-enters-10th-year-doc-1pw2w46

When I worked in the Middle East I was stationed in Aleppo….an old city where the concept of the “coffeehouse” began…..today there is very little left to the city….nothing I could recognize.

A sad anniversary for Syria.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Closing Thought–17Mar20

52 years ago yesterday one of the first massacres in American war history happened…..I am talking about the deaths of about 500 Vietnamese men, women and children at the hands of US soldiers.

Fifty-two years ago today, in one of the most heinous and grisly acts against civilians during wartime, as many as 500 unarmed men, women, children, and the elderly — nearly the entire population of the South Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai — were slaughtered, raped, and brutally tortured by United States troops.

As the U.S. military continues to deploy boots on the ground in additional nations — and as specters of totalitarianism and even greater militarism materialize as if pulled from a century ago — the lessons of My Lai should not be relegated to history’s ignominious dust bin.

History, after all, doesn’t repeat itself — ill-fated actions are carried out like déjà vu, by those who refuse to examine past mistakes as if they are sleepwalking through life.

“The My Lai hamlet, part of the village of Son My, was located in Quang Ngai province, which was believed to be a stronghold of the National Liberation Front (NLF) or Viet Cong (VC) and was a frequent target of U.S. and South Vietnamese bombing attacks,” History.com explains. “In March 1968, Charlie Company [or, C Company] of the Americal Division’s 11th Infantry Brigade received word that VC guerrillas had taken control of Son My. Led by Lieutenant William L. Calley, the unit was sent to the village on a search-and-destroy mission on March 16.”

Never Forget, 52 Years Ago the US Slaughtered 500 Unarmed Men, Women, & Children

A Horrible chapter in the history of Americans at war….but that is NO reason to write it out of our conflict histories….

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

What Happened To The Arms Race?

If you are old enough to remember the Cold War then the term “arms race” is something you are aware of…..but for those youngsters here on IST….

An arms race occurs when two or more countries increase the size and quality of military resources to gain military and political superiority over one another. The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union is perhaps the largest and most expensive arms race in history……

But thank God with the end of the Cold War the dangerous game of arms race in nuclear weapons disappeared….think again!

We ended our involvement in the INF and that is an invitation to an arms race……

If you asked the Pentagon, they would tell you in no uncertain terms that the US is not engaged in any sort of nuclear arms race. At the same time, the US is spending heavily on new nuclear weapons, and is particularly scrambling to get weapons designed to target Russia.

Officials described a recent table-top war game where Russia carried out a tactical nuclear first-strike against NATO territory during a conflict in Europe. This idea of Russia attacking first seems to be informing a lot of US policy decisions.

The exercise saw a low-yield Russian nuke deployed, and the US arsenal, still limited on lower options, ultimately decided that their only response was a much bigger strategic nuclear strike on Russia, starting a civilization-ending nuclear exchange.

Though seemingly the risk of such a war would be a deterrent against a Russian first-strike, the Pentagon is arguing they need more low-yield options so they can engage in tit-for-tat nuclear wars at a lower level.

Analysts have been very concerned about these developments, because the Pentagon very publicly views lower-yield nukes as more usable, and this risks the US deploying them in attacks on non-nuclear states.

(antiwar.com)

If there is NO arms race then why would the Pentagon be begging for more funds for nukes?

The US spends tens of billions of dollars annually on nuclear weapon modernization schemes. Every year, the Pentagon complains it is insufficient, and that continued with StratCom head Admiral Chas Richard, who warned that the US is “almost on a path to disarmament.”

Given how much the US spends, this is a vastly expensive sort of disarmament. Since the US outspends all other nuclear powers, it is hard to imagine that the problem is that the US needs to spend more, and while the admiral suggested the US should “invest smartly,” it’s clear he also wanted more money.

The narrative is that if the US continues at the current heightened level of spending they’ll still end up having to virtually rebuild their entire infrastructure or no longer be a nuclear power. This seems to be overly alarmist, but is just the sort of thing that would sell Congress on bankrolling more arms.

Still, while Strategic Command is built around always spending more money on more arms, and never couches it as an option, it must be considered if proper disarmament is worth considering. After all, if tens of billions of dollars every year can’t maintain an arsenal, the US could at least save that money by no longer pretending to be modernizing it.

(antiwar.com)

In case you want more info…..

he Pentagon’s five-year nuclear weapons plan calls for requesting at least $167 billion through 2025 — building from the $29 billion sought for next year to $38 billion, according to previously undisclosed figures.

The commitment includes research, development, procurement, sustainment and operations. It reflects a major boost to an effort started under President Barack Obama to replace aging nuclear systems, such as Minuteman III missiles and command and control systems.

It doesn’t include funding for the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which is requesting $19.8 billion for fiscal 2021, including $15.6 billion for nuclear weapons activities.

https://time.com/5790901/pentagon-nuclear-weapons-spending/

So all indications are that we are still in an arms race with the USSR….my bad….Russia.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Recent US Deaths Update

I reported the other day about 2 more Americans being killed in Iraq as well as a soldier of them UK……https://lobotero.com/2020/03/11/iraqi-deaths-update/

Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon. A British service member was killed in the Taji rocket attack. She served as a reservist with the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry, having joined in 2015 as a Combat Medical Technician.

May she rest in peace and her family find some peace…..

The two American deaths ……

The Americans that were also killed in this attack……

The military on Friday identified the two U.S. troops killed in a rocket attack on Camp Taji in Iraq as Army Spc. Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias, 27, of Hanford, California and Air Force Staff Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts, 28, of Owasso, Oklahoma.

Mendez Covarrubias was assigned to 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Roberts was assigned to 219th Engineering Installation Squadron of the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing.

“The international military coalition is capable and credible because of warriors like Juan, Brodie, and Marshal,” said Lt. Gen. Pat White, commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition to defeat the Islamic State. “They volunteered to serve the United States and United Kingdom to improve their lives and help keep the world free from ISIS terrorism. Our fallen comrades have a legacy that will never be forgotten.”

4 deaths of US soldiers in 3 days time…..not something that looks good for our time in Iraq.

May they find peace….and may their families find the closure that we all search for….

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Afghanistan In The News (As Always)

Yes we have a deal with the Taleban…..and the best news possible is that the US has already started withdrawing troops from the conflict…..

Just over a week after the signing of the Afghan peace deal, the first few hundreds of US troops are rotating out of the country. The rotation was planned before the deal, but in keeping with the US withdrawal, the troops will not be replaced.

This is just the first few hundred troops leaving out of an estimated 13,000 US troops present in Afghanistan. The plan is to cut troops in the near-term to about 8,600, and officials say this is the official start of a pullout. After this, the goal would be to cut troop levels to zero, ending a 19 year US occupation. The peace deal says this should happen in nine and a half months.

The Trump Administration wanted the troop cuts, deal or no deal, by the 2020 election. Going from 8,600 to zero, under the deal, however, is based on metrics. Indications are that a secret annex to the deal makes this very vague, allowing the US to withdraw from the rest of the pullout at will.

Still, with uncertainty ongoing, the fact that the US is moving forward with the pullout as planned, indications are that the US is at the very least moving to continue its existing position, and isn’t immediately rethinking things.

(antiwar.com)

Hopefully they all make it home before something goes to crap.

As a student of conflict I would love to read the agreement the US signed with the Taleban…..but I cannot……WHY?

The details of how the U.S. military will withdraw from Afghanistan – including the types of attacks U.S. troops and the Taliban have agreed to not conduct – are part of two classified annexes to the recently signed withdrawal agreement, according to the New York Times.

While some members of Congress will be able to read the annexes, the vast majority of the American public will have no idea what their government has agreed to as part of the deal to end the war in Afghanistan, which is in its 19th year.

The U.S. military has “legitimate reasons” why it does not want some information to become public knowledge, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said on Tuesday.

https://taskandpurpose.com/analysis/afghanistan-peace-deal-secrets

What could the reasons for the public not having access to this document?

Could it have anything to do with November?

Just Asking!

But there are a few analyses on the agreement….

Hundreds of dedicated diplomats, intelligence and military officers from numerous nations have been helping to shepherd the Afghan and U.S. governments towards the agreements signed February 29. I have been working on it since May 2009 and wanted to explain what the US-Afghan and US-Taliban agreements mean with my context of knowing the original plan devised over a decade ago by the Afghan government.

Deciphering the Afghanistan Peace Agreements: How the Afghan Government Got the Taliban to Enter Peace Talks

There is more……

The agreement outlines two sets of commitments. The US has pledged to withdraw one-third of its approximately 13,000 troops in 135 days, and the remaining 8,600 before the end of April 2021. America’s coalition partners would withdraw their troops by then as well. The US further agreed to withdraw all ‘private security contractors, trainers, [and] advisors’ from the country and work towards removing sanctions on the Taliban and releasing Taliban prisoners.

For its part, the Taliban has committed to doing all it can to ensure that terrorist organisations don’t use Afghan territory to target the US or its allies. The Taliban also agreed not to cooperate with or support individuals associated with such groups, including al-Qaeda, which was based in Afghanistan when the Taliban were in power and used the country to train those responsible for the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US that killed nearly 3,000 people. The Taliban did not agree, however, to any limits on their military capabilities now or in the future. Nor did they agree to recognise the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s current government.

How to leave Afghanistan

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”