Friday, June 13, 2014










(With Updated Links)

(Thursday June 12th, Tikrit, Iraq) The former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell had a clearly defined military doctrine that he developed from his time in the bush in Vietnam, through extensive military education as he rose through the ranks to achieving the loftiest of all military positions.  Having intimate knowledge with combat and warfare he was a staunch believer in asking a specific set of questions that, if all could not be answered in the affirmative, then our military intervention was not needed.  His questions were: 1.) Is a vital national security interest threatened?  2.) Do we have a clear attainable objective? 3.) Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?  4.) Have all other nonviolent policy means been fully exhausted?  5.) Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?  6.) Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?  7.) Is the action supported by the American people?  8.) Do we have genuine broad international support?

Sadly during his tenure as Secretary of State during the disastrous first George W. Bush Administration he was forced to abandon his doctrine and, as a “good, loyal soldier” support the President of the United States no matter how ill-conceived W’s plans were.  Powell forfeited his respect, dignity and reputation around the world when he went to the United Nations in March of 2003 presenting what he knew to be ambiguous evidence at best, and some totally fabricated at worst arguments for a “coalition of the willing” lead by the Texas Buckaroo W. and the American military to overthrow the dictatorship of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.  Despite repeated attempts by the United Nations monitoring group who had spent years searching Iraq for “weapons of mass destruction” to this very day not one or any evidence of one has been found.  But all this history is moot – to a point.  The Iraq of today is in grave danger of imploding from within with bloody sectarian and ethnic fighting already rendering some large cities in control by the ISIS an acronym for Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham but has also been referenced as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  This group, these ISIS jihadis fighters are an off shoot of al Qaeda but the head of al Qaeda has disassociated himself and his troops from the ISI because he deems them “too violent”.  That is quite a statement considering the source.

It appears with each passing hour that the people of Iraq, after an almost 20 year history of uninterrupted wars; war with Iran, The United States, et al, and raging religious clashes between the Sunni and Shi’ite populations, are veering towards living in a completely fractured, broken and failed nation..  Aside from the human rights and humanitarian depravations endured by the average Iraqi, the instability in the region as a whole; Syria as a neighbor specifically, floods of refugees are seeking to exit Iraq at any point possible; their lives have become untenable. 


Our military foray beginning in March 2003 was doomed from the start.  It has been widely scrutinized, analyzed and reported over the last decade and the overwhelming consensus conclusion is that it was a bogus war of choice sold to the American people via blatant lies, was so poorly planned and executed that we should never have been there.  But it is there we went goading into supporting an invasion predicated on the neo-con cabal that the hapless president George W. Bush had surrounded himself with.  How many of our young enlisted men and women lost their lives there, how many limbs did we leave behind, how many psyches were damaged after multiple deployments to fight a ferocious insurgency that the Cheney/Bush Administration and Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon had so crudely dismissed as “dead enders”.  It seems clear today as we witness Iraq descend into the looming anarchy of sectarian violence that those “dead enders” are anything but.  They are well armed militias some of whom served in the old guard of Saddam Hussein a Sunni Muslim and his Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party rule that held the majority Shi’ite population in ironfisted, tyrannical oppression.

The time line and history of our invasion and subsequent occupation has been vociferously studied and written about.  The information is available for all to read so there is need to reiterate that information here.  We all realize we were lied to for years by some of the most prominent elected officials from Vice President Dick Cheney and his imbecilic, messianic sidekick President George W. Bush.  We know today that there was no “exit strategy”, no plans ready to be enacted once the despotic regime was toppled.  The Cheney/Bush Administration had so wildly erred in the planning, execution and aftermath of the invasion that many of the first wave of American fighting forces to reach Baghdad were not even properly equipped to do battle against difficult to define local insurgencies. 


Secretary Powell was under no illusions and waged a tenacious behind the scenes war within the Cheney/Bush Cabinet as they so callously shifted their focus from the rightful battles in Afghanistan to constructing a “cut, copy and paste” prelude for war in Iraq.  He was at the helm of the Joint Chiefs during what is commonly called “Gulf War I” during the George H. W. Bush Administration.  In 1990 Saddam Hussein suddenly invaded the small, oil rich country of Kuwait and American forces lead the charge to expel the invading Iraqi troops.  Powell and the elder Bush were level headed and wise enough to recognize that if they decided to push all the way into Baghdad they would find themselves quickly in an ugly quagmire.  They had a specific mission, well defined exit plan and knew precisely what their goals were.  Once those goals had been met, they withdrew all troops except for some support staff on American constructed airbases in Saudi Arabia (much to the chagrin of a wealthy Saudi zealot named Osama bin Laden).

It was during those years that Powell adopted a phrase (which has mistakenly been credited to the Pottery Barn retailer) that says, “If you break it, you own it”.  He was acutely aware of the dangers of “mission creep” and realized any military actions that exceeded the mission objective would invite disaster.  His thoughts would prove deadly prescient in the run up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. 

Powell brought a career of military experience, an unrivalled tactical and strategic skill set to the Cheney/Bush Administration only to be shoved aside by the neo-cons; a bunch of right wing extremists all of whom had multiple military deferments to keep them out of the war in Vietnam.  These inside the beltway warriors found the vapid President W. Bush an open vessel into which they could pour their particular cocktail of a war of choice, occupation and, hopefully an uninterrupted amount of Iraqi oil.  With his master Dick Cheney firmly in control of the White House and Pentagon with fellow traveler Donald Rumsfeld at the reigns, it was just a matter of time before our troops in Afghanistan would be essentially abandoned with all the much needed, precious military troops, gear, and support being siphoned into the already running machinery that would have the United States invading Iraq just 15 months after the attacks on our soil on September 11, 2001.  Our fight was with al Qaeda and their hosts the Taliban, not in Iraq but that point was irrelevant to the Cheney/Bush warmongers determined to invade Iraq no matter the lies they had to tell or the costs in our military’s lives and nation of national treasure.  They acted contrary to the long standing military doctrine that we have abided by since our Independence: they pulled us into a war of aggression.  Powell knew that we would be bogged down – in a position of “owning” – a broken Iraq because the game plan was so lacking.


What the Cheney/Bush Administration and Rumsfeld’s Pentagon did not know about Iraq could have filled volumes of dense books.  They had no concept of the country’s history, society, culture, religious factions, sectarian alliances and deep divisions.  Into the gaping maw of the unknown they dispatched a slimmed down military force without a thought given to what would come next.  It was one thing to make a successful thrust into Baghdad; it was an entirely different scenario to contend with once we got there.  General Tommy Franks admitted openly that his lone objective was to get into Baghdad.  Whatever was to happen next was beyond the purview of his mission.  In retrospect the abject failures that lay in wait for our troops on the ground were preordained.  Colin Powell was right; we broke Iraq and had no plans as to how to fix it.  If anything we compounded mistake after mistake until we found ourselves facing a hydra headed insurgency that was more than willing to bring the fight to us.  And that they did. 

Days after storming into Baghdad it quickly became apparent just how poorly – to put it mildly – the Cheney/Bush cabal had planned for what would come next.  What they did was set the future of Iraq as a nation in severe jeopardy.  The litany of all their egregious errors in judgment, gross miscalculations of commission and omission, and the abject failure to appreciate the ramifications of a protracted occupation as the nation fell into pockets of hard core armed resistance against the United States forces as well as widespread religious and ethnic battle on a scale not seen in the region, arguably, in centuries.  The iron fist of the Saddam Hussein regime kept a lid on the strife between the Sunni and Shi’ite and exhibited no tolerance for civil discord.  His absence created a huge power vacuum that placed our forces in grave danger.  The prelude for the next chapter of our bloody campaign there was set while George W. Bush was declaring to the world “Mission Accomplished”. 

What ensued is well documented and, in retrospect even more appalling than it was as it was playing out.  From bring in a group of Iraqi expatriates who were close to the neo-cons like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearl and other Cheney acolytes, to disbanding the Iraqi military and civil infrastructure in a process callously called “de-Ba’athification”, the nation quickly fell into anarchy and chaos.  The entire civil bureaucracy, the thousands of people who kept the machinery of a modern country functional, were cast aside in this process to cleanse the institutions of government, education, utilities and all the rest of what makes a country run.  From doctors and teachers, to oil field workers, police, and basic utility providers were purged leaving no one to assume those roles.  Because of these failures in planning and preparation we would remain engaged in often brutal combat against a series of ill-defined foes until the last of our troops exited the country on December 18, 2011.  We left behind an American propped puppet government, a severely broken and scarred nation, and a legacy of failure that will follow us for decades as we see happening right now.

Since the creation of the state of Israel in 1949 the Middle East has been a hotbed of instability.  The history of the region just in the time since 1949 has varied from open and guerilla warfare along the many schisms of religion and ethnicity as well as colonial-type interference from the outside and despotic rule from the inside.  If one is to understand the region and had only one point of reference to begin the effort towards understanding it is the creation of Israel, the Zionist movement that was born in the aftermath of the atrocities inflicted on the Jewish people in Nazi Germany and Eastern Europe as a whole.  Israel is a country born as much by the workings of the League of Nations as it is of terrorism against colonial powers and violence perpetrated against the native Palestinian population.  With the United States in the sometimes hazardous role as Israel’s most fervent ally we have been deeply engaged in the region for over 60 years often putting ourselves in peril. 

With the open hostility towards Israel from her immediate and regional neighbors, it has served as a focal point for groups in the pro-Palestine movement to the entire array of Islamic and Muslim extremists including many groups the United States has designated as “terrorist” groups.  In its history Israel has made “peace”, or at least agreed to some version of detente’ with only two of her neighbors: Egypt and Jordan.  Although tensions have eased somewhat in the seemingly intractable points of contention between Israel and other nations in the region, it has long been a great source of propaganda and recruitment for terrorist groups from Hamas, Hezbollah, and other Islamic organizations.  With the United States always casting pro-Israel votes in the United Nations Security Council we have, by default, often been targeted by the same groups that are so militantly opposed to the existence of the state of Israel.  That Israel receives billions of US tax dollars annually for military hardware from fighter jets to artillery, those terrorist groups see Muslim blood on American hands.  We have in recent years learned the global reach some of these radical groups have.  Some will be troubled having Israel included in this discussion at all and that is their prerogative.  However, there cannot be any honest deniability that the US – Israel relationship has often proven costly for the United States.  We have lost the designation as a “moderate voice” and “honest broker” in the Islamic, Muslim and Arab world.  One might ask why Israel is even being discussed in this geopolitical equation.  The obvious answers have already been provided above yet it is worth reiterating the fact that Israel is the focal point around which the militants in the Muslim world rally around and we are seen as her supreme enabler and protector. 

On September 11, 2001 we learned in horrific fashion the depth of the hatred of the United States by al Qaeda and their Afghan hosts the Taliban.  Much of the extremist Muslim and Islamic world celebrated the vicious attack on our home soil; they were finally able to bring the fight to us.  They knew they would provoke us into military action with the hope of Afghanistan becoming another Vietnam for us.  They had no idea that by the end of December 2001 they would be reduced to a rag tag group forced by the encroaching United States forces to seek refuge in the rugged but porous terrain of the Afghanistan – Pakistan borderland.  The United States had already begun the preparations to unilaterally if necessary, invade Iraq; a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11/01 attacks, the Taliban or al Qaeda.  As Cheney/Bush argued with increasing urgency throughout 2002 that Iraq was involved with al Qaeda, had weapons of mass destruction and even, perhaps, a crude nuclear capability, al Qaeda licked their wounds and lived to fight another day.  We still have 30,000 troops in that perpetually ungovernable country.

Our foray into Iraq motivated jihadis and mujahedeen from across the Muslim/Islamic extremist world to join the fight.  They were more than capable of conducting a cunningly lethal form of asymmetrical warfare, a development like so many of the others that the Cheney/Bush “brain trust” neither anticipated nor even remotely considered.  As a recruitment vehicle for extremists and fundamentalists already inclined to despise the United States, our presence in Iraq became a clarion call that echoes still today.  We left Iraq as a critically wounded nation/state poised on the verge of self-emollition as we are witnessing today. 

Our military actions have created a new generation, if not generations, of young people who have known nothing but war and hardship that the United States is responsible for.   We have given birth to that next generation of terrorists immersed since birth in the belief that America is “the Great Satan” and, in their eyes, they are right; we have wreaked havoc in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan while opening up new theaters for drone strikes in Sudan, Yemen, Mali, Somalia and other unknown locations.  

It will be interesting to watch as the chaotic situation Iraq plays out in the short term although it is likely not going to be a short term scenario.  The same imbecilic hawks in the US Senate that said we would be greeted in Baghdad as “liberators”, addled men like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are again beating the war drums for military intervention in Iraq.  On whose “side” we would fight is as unclear today as the nature of the insurgency was in 2003 through 2011.  It is not that we have “unfinished business” in Iraq as some would argue; we had no business being there in the first place.

George W. Bush has retreated to his home in Houston and spends his time with watercolors and pastels producing childish portraits while his old master Dick Cheney is a vocal critic of the Obama Administration and still maintains that his incursion into Iraq was a “just cause”.  These two men have unleashed waves of violence and evil that will long out live them.  It may out live us all. 

Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved

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