Contained within the first three paragraphs of Thomas Ricks's book, Fiasco, is the heart of why the United States is today mired in an unsolvable and intractable political and military morass in the Middle East. Make no mistake, the choices now for U.S. policy in Iraq and Syria are all bad and they all have their genesis in the Bush-ordered, unprovoked attack and invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq in March 2003.
President Obama, in my opinion, errs in involving our country in a regional conflict and in elevating the criminal gang he calls ISIL (Islamic State in the Levant) to 'combatant' status -- the same mistake Bush/Cheney made in transforming al Qaeda into a 'borderless state' so that they could have a 'war' on terror. ISIL and al Qaeda are organized criminal enterprises and should be treated as such: hunted down as low-life gangsters, apprehended or killed, and prosecuted as the reprehensible vermin they are.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration is going to pursue the 'war' strategy, In Shift, White House Calls ISIS Fight A ‘War’- ABC News; September 12, 2014. This will mean conflict and entanglements with 'enemies' and 'allies' for years to come ... and it will mean the further redistribution of working class taxpayer dollars to the elites of the military-contractors-lobbyist machine.
Nevertheless, the strictly political and partisan attempt by reactionary Tea Party - Republicans to somehow blame Obama for this ongoing foreign policy catastrophe is disingenuous, propagandistic and subversive of the best interests of the our domestic prosperity and national security.
President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 ultimately may come to be seen as one of the most profligate actions in the history of American foreign policy. The consequences of his choice won’t be clear for decades, but it already is abundantly apparent in mid-2006 that the U.S. government went to war in Iraq with scant solid international support and on the basis of incorrect information—about weapons of mass destruction and a supposed nexus between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda’s terrorism—and then occupied the country negligently. Thousands of U.S. troops and an untold number of Iraqis have died. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent, many of them squandered. Democracy may yet come to Iraq and the region, but so too may civil war or a regional conflagration, which in turn could lead to spiraling oil prices and a global economic shock.
This book’s subtitle terms the U.S. effort in Iraq an adventure in the critical sense of adventurism—that is, with the view that the U.S.-led invasion was launched recklessly, with a flawed plan for war and a worse approach to occupation. Spooked by its own false conclusions about the threat, the Bush administration hurried its diplomacy, short-circuited its war planning, and assembled an agonizingly incompetent occupation. None of this was inevitable. It was made possible only through the intellectual acrobatics of simultaneously “worst-casing” the threat presented by Iraq while “best-casing” the subsequent cost and difficulty of occupying the country.
How the U.S. government could launch a preemptive war based on false premises is the subject of the first, relatively short part of this book. Blame must lie foremost with President Bush himself, but his incompetence and arrogance are only part of the story. It takes more than one person to make a mess as big as Iraq. That is, Bush could only take such a careless action because of a series of systemic failures in the American system. Major lapses occurred within the national security bureaucracy, from a weak National Security Council (NSC) to an overweening Pentagon and a confused intelligence apparatus. Larger failures of oversight also occurred in the political system, most notably in Congress, and in the inability of the media to find and present alternate sources of information about Iraq and the threat it did or didn’t present to the United States. It is a tragedy in which every major player contributed to the errors, but in which the heroes tend to be anonymous and relatively powerless—the front-line American soldier doing his best in a difficult situation, the Iraqi civilian trying to care for a family amid chaos and violence. They are the people who pay every day with blood and tears for the failures of high officials and powerful institutions.
The American Military Adventure in Iraq
By Thomas E. Ricks