In the last two weeks, a terrorist group too radical even for Al-Qaeda to support, the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL), has swept through the Iraq, taking city after city en route to Baghdad.
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This new round of chaos has been a dog whistle to the always eager interventionists. Suddenly, hawks like Dick Cheney, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham are booking interviews like it’s 2003, and they all have the same message: America has to go to war again to fix this mess.
Meanwhile, though President Obama initially said there would be “no boots on the ground,” he’s backtracked on that promise in record time. Servicemen are already on their way to Iraq, and drone strikes (which are a terrible option) have been suggested as well. (To his credit, Obama is at least speaking in more cautious terms than his neoconservative counterparts, though it remains to be seen if his actions will be similarly restrained.)
Obama, Cheney, and pals may be ginning up a new push for war, but most Americans have very different ideas. A recent poll shows that a whopping 74% of Americans oppose sending combat troops to Iraq, and a mere 16% are for it.
This is consistent with poll after poll in the last few years that show Americans are overwhelmingly sick of war and tired of our government’s refusal to mind its own business abroad. This desire for peace spans partisan lines, and it definitely includes rejecting of re-invasion of Iraq.
So why the huge difference between what most Americans want and what Washington is trying to force on us? Well, it’s simple: Most Americans are willing to admit how awful U.S. foreign policy has been for the last decade plus and the Washington establishment is not.
The same poll which showed that 3/4 of Americans don’t want more war in Iraq also found that “more than two-thirds say the renewed violence in Iraq is a result of a centuries-old conflict that was worsened by the 2003 invasion launched by President George W. Bush.”
In other words, the people who opposed invasion the first time around were right—and people like Cheney and, now, Obama who want to continue and expand our involvement, have been proven wrong.
As Ron Paul put it, it doesn’t make any sense to listen to the people who got Iraq and America into this mess to begin with: “They cannot admit they were wrong about the invasion being a ‘cakewalk’ that would pay for itself,” and their foreign policy advice isn’t exactly credible anymore.
That’s not to suggest that Saddam Hussein was a good guy, or that Iraq would be a paradise today if the Iraq War had never been started by President Bush and continued by Obama. But it is to point out that al-Qaeda, which spawned this chaos-wreaking ISIL group, did not exist in Iraq before the 2003 invasion. The war our government started under glaringly false pretenses literally created a multitude of new terrorists, and it is that intervention which is a direct cause of Iraq’s current disaster.
And here’s the most interesting part: libertarians like Ron Paul aren’t the only one saying this anymore. In fact, conservative Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly fiercely took Dick Cheney to task for the failed war in Iraq a couple days ago, saying he is “more wrong and shamelessly dishonest” about Iraq than anyone else in the US!
“Time and time again,” Kelly commented to the startled former vice president, “history has proven that you got it wrong [on] Iraq, sir.”
Kelly’s fervor is shared on the progressive left by activists like former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, whose recent op-ed highlights the error of the initial invasion. “President Obama didn’t start the Iraq War,” Kucinich writes, “but he has the opportunity now to tell the truth. That we were wrong to go in. That the cause of war was unjust. That more problems were created by military intervention than solved.”
But perhaps the most persuasive case against returning to Iraq comes from Ruben Gallego, a former Marine who is an Iraq war veteran. In an article titled, “I Served in Iraq, We Shouldn’t Go Back,” Gallego explains why he is opposed to yet more American intervention in the Middle East:
I can’t imagine what it is like for Iraqi civilians facing a new round of violence, fear and instability. What is happening in Iraq is a tragedy, but I don’t believe the United States currently has a constructive role to play in solving it. […]
So many young men and women served and sacrificed in Iraq, but that’s not a reason to double down on a failed strategy. I’m glad we’re out of Iraq, we should stay out.
So on the one hand, we have 74% of Americans opposing intervention in Iraq specifically, and a clear and growing majority favoring a non-interventionist foreign policy of peace and diplomacy.
Conservatives, libertarians, and progressives alike are on board with this serious policy shift. Veterans and active duty military agree.
On the other hand, we have a consummate rogues gallery: Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, Nancy Pelosi, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham—the worst of the worst of outdated, immoral warhawks with zero regard for the rule of law.
If those guys agree on something, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be bad news—and so it is in this case.
Invading Iraq was wrong in 2003, and it’s still wrong today. If our government would listen to the people instead of Washington establishment relics for once, maybe America could avoid repeating this terrible mistake.