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Thursday, October 27, 2016

By Andrew J. Bacevich, Los Angeles Times

From a moral perspective, President Barack Obama’s response to the plight of Iraqi minorities targeted for extinction by vicious Islamists is justifiable and even commendable. Yet the resumption of American military action in Iraq — bombs for the wicked, bundles for the innocent — cannot disguise the overall disarray of U.S. policy in the region.

The moral sensibilities that have apparently moved the Obama administration to renew the Iraq war are, to put it mildly, selective. Elsewhere in the immediate region, Washington has hesitated to confront wickedness and has stood by while innocents have been subjected to the cruelest treatment. Whatever the factors that have shaped the U.S. response to Syria’s civil war, the military coup that terminated Egypt’s experiment with democracy and Israel’s assault on Gaza, moral concerns have figured, at best, as an afterthought.

If recent U.S. actions in the Middle East contain a common theme, it’s this: a vague hope that suppressing rampant Islamic radicalism will restore order to a region that previous U.S. military efforts have done so much to destabilize. Yet translating that hope into reality poses daunting challenges, nowhere more so than in Iraq.

Peter Baker of the New York Times has referred to Iraq as the “graveyard of American ambition.” The characterization is an apt one. Each of the last five presidents has seen Iraq as an instrument to serve U.S. interests or has expected Baghdad to comply with specific American requirements. Each in turn has failed, bequeathing the consequences of that failure to his successor.

During the 1980s, to curb the ambitions of revolutionary Iran, Ronald Reagan sought to use Iraq as a proxy. The chief result, along with the vast and pointless bloodletting of the Iran-Iraq war, was to fuel the megalomania of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The administration of George H.W. Bush marked Iraq’s transformation from unseemly partner to full-fledged adversary. Bush punished Iraq for invading Kuwait, confident that from victory would come a “new world order.” Rather than order, the United States found itself saddled with responsibility for garrisoning the Persian Gulf.

To keep Hussein “in his box,” Bush inaugurated and Bill Clinton affirmed a policy of militarized containment. Yet the permanent stationing of U.S. forces in the Islamic world and the punitive sanctions imposed on Iraq stoked anti-American jihadism and thereby helped lay the basis for 9/11.

The events of September 2001 inspired President George. W. Bush to make Iraq the centerpiece of his campaign to transform the Greater Middle East. Promising to liberate and democratize Iraq, Bush instead broke it.

Although Barack Obama’s vow to extricate the United States from his predecessor’s misbegotten war vaulted him into the White House, events have stymied his hopes of making a clean break. A weak Iraq state and ineffective military forces — created at considerable expense during the several years of American occupation — have proved unable to cope with resurgent violence.

To imagine at this late date that the United States possesses the capacity to reverse this sad situation is surely a delusion. So even if an infusion of American air power succeeds in saving the lives of those at immediate risk, Iraq will remain a basket case. Riding to the temporary rescue of Kurds, Yazidis or persecuted Iraqi Christians may salve American consciences, but it won’t redeem a bipartisan record of failure that now extends over several decades. That failure is definitive and indelible.

Historians will have a field day in apportioning responsibility for that failure, a project likely to provoke arguments continuing far into the future. What those responsible for formulating policy are called on to do is to move on, cognizant of the past but accepting it as fixed and irrevocable.

If restoring a semblance of stability to the Middle East is in the interests of the United States, as it surely is, the present moment requires two things.

Step one is to stop doing what’s counterproductive. That means ending the excessive militarization of U.S. policy that Washington’s inordinate preoccupation with Iraq has promoted. Nothing would be more foolish than for President Obama to allow himself to be drawn into another large-scale conflict, as he himself appears to appreciate.

Step two means setting sensible priorities, differentiating between what is truly essential and what is merely important. Washington’s protracted obsession with Iraq over many years has badly skewed U.S. policy priorities. There are places that Americans should consider worth fighting and dying for. There are places on which the very fate of the planet may hinge. But Iraq is not one of those places. It’s time to break free of the tar baby and move on.

Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies. He wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

AFP Photo/Saul Loeb

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  • ps0rjl

    Nothing makes for a better war than religious extremism and that is what we have in Iraq. Look at Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh may have been a communist, but all he wanted was to unite North and South Vietnam. Once we left Vietnam had some initial blood-letting, but now it is a thriving economic nation. Religion played no role in unification. People could worship in whatever faith they wanted to. Now juxtapose Iraq. That country will never be stable as long as religious factions are forced to live together. To gain peace in the region, Iraq needs to be spilt into three parts, one for Sunnis, one for Shiites, and one for Kurds. There will never be peace there as long as these groups are forced to live together. The only other option is to hope a leader like Saddam emerges who is so brutal that all groups will have to live in peace.

    • Mark Forsyth

      Isn’t it curious,the twisted circumstances that must exist to make a tyrant and a dictator seem like an advantage?

    • Elliot J. Stamler

      Many years ago I heard and saw then Sen. Joseph Biden say the exact same thing. He was derided. He was right. It is impossible for Arab Moslems to live together without murdering each other or trying to AND it is impossible for Arab Moslems to live with Jews without murdering them. Israel is smart and tough enough to face that reality; we should too.

    • RobertCHastings

      When Bush deposed Hussein, there was left behind a vacuum, which only power could fill. There has been no powerful leader who has been able to step in and take his place, especially given the American insistence upon the primacy of Democracy. The Arab Spring and our faith in its power to bring democracy to the region was wrong. Although the impetus for that series of revolts was the disgruntled youth of the region, their anger toward America presupposed the automatic rise of democracy.

  • Mark Forsyth

    U.S. Mid-East Policy: Oil,Guns,Money,and Corruption.If the rest of the world decided to leave the Mid-East entirely alone,there would be enough problems to keep the people there occupied for many many centuries.

  • bikejedi

    Well one thing is for certain and that is that foreign policy ala Community Organizer is a failure . Between he and Hillary we are now more hated then ever . And for what ? We didn’t get involved in Syria and Iran when with just a little public support those Countries could of been successful democracies now . What we have now is a Muslim Caliphate that Obama’s leading advisors said was impossible . Is anyone in this admin competent ? Hey Obama hows that 80’s calling wanting their foreign policy back looking now ?

    • WhutHeSaid

      Iran and Syria could have been ‘successful democracies’ by now with ‘a little public support’? How stupid must one person be to offer up wishful — yet ridiculous — claims for warmongering while still staring straight in the face of the latest example of failure doing just that. Remember George W Bush: “Mission Accomplished”.


      • bikejedi

        I don’t usually respond to you for your history of immaturity intolerance hate and ignorance but I just have to ask .. What does Bush have to do with Obama’s horrid record or Hillary’s horrid record of Foreign Policy ?

        • WhutHeSaid

          You probably shouldn’t respond, because you always end up looking like a bigoted liar.

          The most ‘horrid’ of all records is Bush’s record on Iraq and the ‘War On Terror’. Anything that you try to project on Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama (because he’s black, of course) is just a failed attempt to project Bush’s miserable foreign policy legacy onto somebody else.

          Blaming others for Bush’s unGodly mess is one thing, but actually being stupid enough to claim that repeating Bush’s mistakes will somehow solve the mess that was created by his mistakes in the first place is just plain *stupid*. Are you high on crack today or something?

          • bikejedi

            Well when Bush left Iraq Iraq was stable…. Israel would be getting ANY assistance they might need to take out Irans Nuke programif Bush were President he wouldn’t be funding their Nuke program like Obama has , Egypt was stable , Libya wasn’t ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood , There weren’t 20 new African Countries under radical Islamic control…. Hamas wasn’t acting like punk bitch terrorists…. Syria wasn’t in a bloody Civil war with no good outcome and Iraq wasn’t being run over by a radical Muslim caliphate because Obama left them with no show of support . Russia wasn’t owning Cremea and steamrolling the Ukraine and Putin and Assad weren’t laughing at our POTUS really our COOTUS … By the way how does it feel knowing that both Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin were right about Russia ????? hahahahahahaha Hey WhutSHEsaid the 2010’s called and they said that Romney was right and Obama is a Clown .. Foreign Policy ala Community Organizer is as big a Train Wreck as Obamacare and his domestic policy … Game set Match …Go ahead WhutSHEsaid .. do what you always do .. call me names…. call me a racist and blame Bush … Everyone knows it’s all you have

          • WhutHeSaid

            Oh yes, things were just peachy under GW Bush. Starting with a country at peace with a healthy economy and a budget surplus, Bush quickly plunged the country into TWO un-winnable wars, wrecked the economy, alienated most of America’s allies, and ran up deficits so huge that they guaranteed mammoth increases in US debt for decades to come.

            Although the attacks of September 11, 2001 were mostly the result of intelligence failures, Bush squandered whatever sympathies the rest of the world had by launching a totally unrelated, unjustifiable, and un-winnable war in Iraq. This was a mistake of gigantic proportions, and resulted in TRILLIONS of dollars of unfunded expense, over 4,000 Americans deaths (more than 9/11), and the alienation of most of America’s allies.

            Although Bush initially responded to 9/11 by quickly unseating the Taliban in Afghanistan, he never had an end game, and Afghanistan ended up being just another very expensive boondoggle that added to the thousands of American lives lost and TRILLIONS of dollars wasted. In the end he never even nailed Osama Bin Laden, and proclaimed that it wasn’t important.

            I know that you have a particular fondness for terrorists, and that the Christian terrorist Timothy McVeigh is a hero of yours. But real Americans were happy to see McVeigh being sent straight to Hell, and Obama succeeded in nailing Bin Laden where Bush failed. I know you are conflicted over this, because your bigot brain can’t reconcile your hate for Muslims with your hate for a black President who killed the world’s most notorious Muslim terrorist.

            So Bush utterly wrecked the American economy, ran up deficits far into the future, alienated the entire world with disastrous adventurism and warmongering, and caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and perhaps hundreds of thousands of civilians — and for what? He achieved nothing, and never had a plan for winning. Have you noticed that everything you blame on Obama (except Obamacare) is just a bigoted gripe that Obama didn’t clean up GW Bush’s mess fast enough?

          • bikejedi

            Unfortunately Bush isnt the reason Obama is such a failure and he wasnt the topic here until you couldn’t defend Obama so you spin and deflect .

            After 9/11 every American including some who call themselves Democrats wanted to go into both Iraq and Afghanistan . The Iraq war was won thanks to the Surge Strategy employed by Bush . He left that to Obama and Obama to keep a campaign promise disregarded common sense and the advice of every General worth his salt and pulled everyone out . Now if he had left a small force behind as a show of support for the Iraqi people then ISIS wouldn’t be happening and Christians wouldn’t be getting beheaded

            We have covered the economy before and how Jimmy Carter’s CRA affected both the housing market and banking industry so we both agree that that isnt on Bush . Especially when he went to the Dem controlled Congress and warned them… what was to come….. what was it I think 26 times ?? Meanwhile Bawnee Fwank was LYING and telling Bush and everyone else that Fannie and Freddie were just fine … Right up until the day they weren’t .. Nope , you may buy the Liberal talking points but America doesn’t .

            Obama has lost more lives in his wars for oil ( hahaha I love that one ) then Bush did . He has added almost 8 trillion in debt for future generations

            I have no love for McViegh but you seem obsessed with him . Nor do I care that COOTUS is 50% White

            And Obama’s Foreign Policy Train Wrecks have nothing to do with cleaning up ANY of Bush’s stuff because they were all HIS bad decisions

          • WhutHeSaid

            Don’t try to lie — we’ve covered this ground before. Timothy McVeigh was a hero to you, because he was a redneck bigot just like you. You failed to denounce Christian terrorists because it’s not the terrorism that you oppose, rather, you oppose Muslims because you are a bigot. The violence is incidental to you.

            Obama nailed Osama Bin Laden. The reason that you can’t bring yourself to give him credit for this is that you are, of course, a bigot who cannot give credit to a black man.

            Go ahead — prove me wrong by either denouncing Christian terrorists like McVeigh or giving Obama credit for nailing Bin Laden. I’ll bet that you just can’t do either one because you are a bigot and it’s beyond your capabilities.

            ISIS in Iraq is a GW Bush creation. If Bush had not invaded Iraq, there would be no ISIS in Iraq today. Bush did not win the war in Iraq, because there was no goal to this war. All Bush did was lie to the American people, waste trillions of dollars, and get thousands of Americans killed. He also destabilized the entire region.

            Israel and Palestine have been fighting since the day Israel was created — nothing new here. Obama supports Israel just as much as any other President. Obama has cut no aid to Israel, and has done nothing that changes this relationship.

            Barney Frank and Jimmy Carter didn’t destroy the American economy and cause the Great Recession — that was all Bush. It was Bush’s watch, and he was busily wasting trillions of dollars in unfunded wars. Although lying rednecks like you claim otherwise, it was none other than GW Bush who bailed out the banks by enacting TARP to the tune of $750 billion.

            Obama hasn’t started any wars, funded or unfunded. The economy that was in shambles has been brought back to reasonable health — no small feat given the horrible mess that Obama inherited from GW Bush.

            So all you have to offer is more lies. Christians and others (as if Christians are the only people in the world) were getting beheaded by militants before Obama ever took office, so that’s nothing new. Obama has been attacking ISIS, but he is absolutely correct in saying that the real responsibility for Iraq lies with the Iraqis themselves. Lying bigots like you want to start more conflicts without any plans for success, because you are too stupid to know any better, and you are too much of a liar to admit when your policies have failed (all serious political historians agree that Bush’s foreign policy was the most disastrous of any American President).

            So you have nothing. All you can do is whine about Obama endlessly, because you are a bigot. You have no real arguments about anything. Because Obama is black, to you he must be the cause of all the world’s ills. But Obama isn’t the cause — it’s lying, cheating, hateful, despicable people just like you and Timothy McVeigh. Everybody knows how vile, despicable and worthless bigots, racists and warmongering liars are — that’s the cause of all of the world’s troubles from day one. In short, the troubles come from assholes just like you, so congratulations.

          • bikejedi

            You just cant help yourself can you ? I mean you always start with the name calling and this is why no one talks to you or listens to you . Let me destroy your own argument with your own logic or lack there of . You blame the economic implosion caused by Carter on Bush because the house of cards fell during Bush . it doesnt matter to you that the Dems controlled spending as they ruled Congress . Ok using your own lack of logic then everything that has happened under Obama is on him … Set game match … No need to respond I wont be responding to you

          • WhutHeSaid

            You can’t even get tennis phrasing right — its game, set, match — not set, game, match.

            Of course you won’t respond, because you will just look foolish. That’s just life for sordid bigots, I’m afraid. Sorry ’bout you luck.

        • Dominick Vila

          Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, his decision to remove Saddam Hussein from office and, most importantly, his decision to replace Sunnis with Shias aligned spiritually to Iran from all government positions, paved the way for what we are seeing today in Iraq. Gen. Petraeus recognized the problem and tried to force the Al Maliki regime to hire Sunnis, with immediate positive results, but as soon as Petraeus left, al Maliki and his cronies went back to the model put in place by Bush.
          You cannot deny people the right to live, work, and support their families and expect them to remain calm. Not surprisingly, the Iraqi Sunnis that escaped to Syria helped destabilize that country, organized, and are now the core of ISIS.
          Regarding Iran. Our foreign policy towards that country has focused on sanctions and the marginalization of Iran since the hostage crisis (Iran-Contra notwithstanding). Every U.S. President since Carter has accused Iran of fomenting and supporting terrorism. Blaming Obama for failing to transform Iran into a democracy, after three decades of ostracism and sanctions, is the epitome of hyperbole.
          Yes, we could continue to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, we could continue to invade other countries, remove their leaders, install puppets, and advance our interests by force, but is that the way to go? If we use history to determine the logic of our foreign policy decisions during much of the last century, the obvious lesson is that the best thing we could do is let other people solve their problems and choose their destiny. From Korea, to Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, everything we have done backfired and did not produce tangible results…until we left, as was the case in Vietnam. As for the Muslim world, rest assured, we are not going to solve the ancient rivalries that have existed in those countries for centuries.

          • bikejedi

            Bush was backed in his decision to go into Iraq by every Dem after 9/11 . He left a stable platform for Iraq and all Obama had to do was keep a small force behind to show support for the Iraqi people and also so there wouldnt be a vacuum for ISIS to fill . Those were Obama’s decisions because he is a Community Organizer who does not understand how the World works . None of his decisions have anything to do with Bush and it is only someone who is trying to spin lies for excuses that would come up with its all Bush’s fault .

            In Iran and in Syria we had a chance to support peoples uprisings that may have resulted in Democracies in those Country’s He chose not to get involved there but he did in Egypt and Libya … Where his actions resulted in the Muslim Brotherhood running those places .. Egypt had the good sense to go against Obama and kick the Brotherhood to the curb .
            The economic sanctions were working in Iran and if they had increased that pressure as Sen Kirk and others proposed they could have crippled Iran economically and forced their hand Instead Obama turned down Israels requests for help and instead if funding their program . Are you going to feel safer for your kids when Iran has a Nuke or can you see the coming disaster ? Will you blame Bush for that too ??

          • Dominick Vila

            You are correct in pointing out that Democrats endorsed Bush’s decision
            to invade Iraq after 9/11. Their cowardice is not something I am proud
            of. Bush did not leave a stable Iraq. 4,500 Americans lost their lives
            in that hell hole. Over 20,000 were injured or maimed. We wasted
            $1.7B removing a dictator that enjoyed Reagan’s full support during the
            Iran-Iraq war, replaced him with Al Maliki, an inept and corrupt puppet,
            removed Sunnis from all government positions, replaced Sunnis with
            Shias aligned to Iran, and contributed to over 2 million Iraqi Muslims
            fleeing to countries like Syria and Turkey to save their lives, and you
            have the nerve to suggest that we should have babysat our puppet
            Iraq, as a country, is a creation of Western incompetence
            and arrogance. Iraq has three large segments that have been at each
            others throats for centuries: Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds. Neither Bush
            nor Obama or any other U.S. President will turn that country into a
            Western style democracy, where people may disagree, but learn to coexist
            peacefully in spite of political and religious differences.
            Bush’s decision to invade Iraq – and that was HIS decision – Iraq was a
            fairly stable and prosperous country. As it happens so often in
            countries where tribal and religious rivalries dominate public opinion
            and provoke civil unrest, the only way to FORCE people to coexist
            peacefully is by having a strong man in charge. Saddam Hussein filled
            that role, the same way Mubarak did in Egypt, and the same way Kaddaffi
            did in Libya. Those thugs were not nice people, and one of them did not
            hesitate to order the downing of a U.S. passenger aircraft,
            but they
            managed to keep their people relatively calm. When Bush removed Saddam
            from power, and replaced him and his cronies with Shias, he
            destabilized the entire Persian Gulf region, and shifted the balance of
            power in Iran’s favor. Today, we are ripping the fruits of the seed
            Bush planted a decade ago.
            Last, but not least, let’s not forget
            that the withdrawal from Iraq was planned and scheduled by the Bush
            administration, and that the overwhelming majority of Americans opposed a
            permanent invasion of that country and wanted our military forces
            withdrawn ASAP.
            When al-Bashar’s repressive actions became apparent, president Obama considered helping some of the opposition groups. Republicans reacted by reminding everyone that most of those groups were linked to Al Qaeda. Obama did not pursue the issue further, and let the Syrians fend for themselves. As it turns out, many of the Syrian opposition groups consisted of Iraqi Sunni refugees, many of them former military officers removed from office after the fall of Saddam. It didn’t take the Iraqi Sunnis too long to recruit Syrian sympathizers and Islamic fundamentalists from other countries, and they became what we know today as ISIS, an organization determined to recover the land, power, and wealth they lost when we decided that Iran’s amigos were preferable to Sunnis aligned spiritually to Saudi Arabia.
            Social freedom, and economic prosperity, in Iran is farther today than it has been for decades. The last thing we needed, and the last thing most Americans wanted, was U.S. military involvement in that country. Needless to say, the Ayatollahs remain in power, Islamic fundamentalism is the norm, but a strong middle class is emerging, people are free to travel to other countries, especially Western Europe, and there are signs that even the Ayatollahs have moderated their stranglehold on power.

          • Independent1

            Dominick, don’t forget that you’re trying to reason with the NM’s King of the Idiots. And that the whole premise of his argument is false: Obama could not have left a small contingent of soldiers in Iraq because it was Bush who signed the agreement with Iraq that we would leave on al specified date. And although Obama did try to leave some of our troops t here, al Maliki refused to sign an agreement ensuring that our troops wouldn’t be tried by Iraqi courts for any actions they may take in defending themselves or even civilians past the agreed upon evacuation date.

          • Independent1

            Biker’s contention that even some Democrats supported the war in the beginning, is nothing more than his attempt at shifting the blame, like is normal for all Republicans. Although I’m also disappointed that many Dems did vote to give Bush the right to start the war, we have to keep in mind that they did it after one of the most orchestrated campaigns of lies and distortions in the history of the world. If anyone doesn’t believe that, just read through this narrative on one lie after another from a comprehensive group of what at the time were suppose to be authoritative figures:

            Saddleback Church founder and author Rick Warren, who once praised President Barack Obama’s “courage” for inviting the conservative pastor to give the invocation at his inauguration and hailed his “commitment to model civility,” has drastically changed his tone on the man who helped make him a familiar name to many Americans.

            Obama is “absolutely” unfriendly to religion and his administration’s policies have “intentionally infringed upon religious liberties,” Warren said in an interview Wednesday. The evangelical pastor, whose 20,000-member church in suburban Los Angeles is one of the largest in the nation, was on tour in New York City to promote to the 10th anniversary edition of his popular book, “The Purpose Driven Life.”

          • Independent1

            And just one last comment. For those bloggers reading through your and Biker’s posts, below is the link to an article from the staff of the Daily Kos which does a good job of giving readers a better understanding of Obama’s positions on the on-going troubles in Iraq and Syria. I don’t listen to radio much or watch news media outlets on TV, so I’m personally not that up on the real issues surrounding these foreign conflicts.

            The article is titled:

            Obama is right, Clinton wrong, on foreign policy


          • bikejedi

            I agree with some of that and dont agree with other parts . One thing is clear and that is that after the success of the surge Bush left Iraq with the makings of a working Govt . Obama then pulled EVERYONE out so he can actually say he followed through on at least one of his promises . It didnt matter that it was a bad bad call . Yes certain Muslims hate everyone and want to kill everyone … That is nothing new and if Obama had left a small force behind as show of support for the Iraqi people none of this would happen . Hence following that logic it is all on Obama for his decision to pull out as he did

        • RobertCHastings

          Apparently you have been reading history as posited by O’Reilly and Beck. Bush is the president who got American boots on the ground in Iraq, under a totally misguided policy of pre-emption with the lie (proven) of WMD. Bush has the ULTIMATE responsibility for the current debacle in Iraq for that simple reason.

          • latebloomingrandma

            Yep–Bush & Cheney broke it and handed Obama the push broom.

          • bikejedi

            Yes I was watching Liberal news when they broke the story of ISIS ( Obama’s creation of a Muslim Caliphate ) uncovering and seizing WMD’s you think dont exist hehehehe… By the way tell the Kurds that WMD’s dont exist because Sadam used them against them . Oh and after 9/11 every Dem wanted to go into Iraq as well . So your arguments are all invalid . Also Invalid is your assumption that any of this is on Bush . That is called a LIE and EXCUSE making to cover for Obama’s miss steps . Also soin and deflection . Bush left Iraq as a a stable country after the surge . It was Obama that pulled everyone out against the advice of his military generals and the pentagon . He chose to score some political points and pulled everyone out leaving the people of Iraq with NO show of support . He chose to do that so he could say at least he kept ONE of his many Campaign promises … Unfortunately he showed the judgement of a Community Organizer charged with leading the Foreign Policy of the greatest Nation on this Planet . Once again proving he never had the required skill set or judgement to be POTUS … In the position of POTUS he is a decent COOTUS . He chose a premature pullout over the common sense that the generals advised .. No Robert as I just logically displayed your arguments are all invalid and make you look and sound just like Obama . A Lying Excuse making buck passing petulant man child ( the last part not you personally ) Why is it that all of the people on the left chose to use Obama’s failed strategy of excuse making and buck passing instead of affixing ANY blame to him … Bush isn’t President get over it already

  • imabrummie

    Perhaps it is just time that American politicians learned the lesson of MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS and used it’s resources here to improve the lot of its own people!

  • RobertCHastings

    As history has shown, America has neither known nor cared to know shit about the conflicting factors in the Middle East. That lack of understanding led to the destruction of the power arrangements in the region prior to 1900, the establishment of an unjust peace in 1918 that ended in WWII, the establishment in the region of dozens of POLITICAL entities that had no connection with the ETHNIC realities of the area, the destabilization of the region through the Cold War and our (andUSSR’s) battling for influence by establishing dictatorial regimes that disregarded our interests and only helped us against the “enemy”, under the mistaken assumption that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. America has yet to learn the lesson that she must KNOW with whom she is dealing before making the deal.