Coordinated bombings in Baghdad on Wednesday targeted the Foreign and Finance ministries, killing at least 95 and wounding hundreds more. It may feel like a flashback, but the violence never really left, as Patrick Cockburn explains: “By over-selling the extent to which Iraq had returned to peace since 2007, the Iraqi and American governments have left themselves open to the perception that an upsurge in bombing over the past month means the country is returning to war.”
A journalist in the Middle East for 30 years and the author of three books on Iraq, Cockburn has witnessed the effects of the surge firsthand, and his assessment should be honored. Scott Ritter, another Iraq expert who presciently opposed the 2003 invasion, warns against the false promise of America’s might to fix Mesopotamia’s problems. “Whatever solution emerges will have little to do with American military efforts and everything to do with the political realities of Iraq after the end of American occupation,” writes Ritter in his essay “The Road Out of Iraq Begins in Vietnam.”
William Pfaff, another foreign policy scholar worth listening to, has written extensively about the foolishness of conventional wisdom in America’s blunders abroad. His recent “You Can’t Blame Obama for American Stubbornness” is a dynamite column that touches on the subject, but also read “Disorderly or Not, America Should Withdraw” and “Bush’s Follies Will Destroy Obama if He Lets Them.”
Chris Hedges, the former New York Times Mideast bureau chief and Arabic-speaking Truthdig columnist, wrote about surge falsehoods in his February 2008 column “The Calm Before the Conflagration.” He predicted: “Once the money runs out, or once [Sunni militants] feel strong enough to make a thrust for power, the civil war in Iraq will accelerate with deadly speed.”
That appears to be happening now. —PS
USAF / Master Sgt. James M. Bowman
In 2003, U.S. soldiers in Baghdad dig through the remains of the United Nations building, much of which was destroyed by a truck bombing.