To an immigrant, one noticeable aspect of American life is the commonly utilized phrase: “The good guys versus the bad guys”. It’s no longer just another mediocre plot-line in one of those Hollywood Western films, it crops up in the news media and on political chat shows with depressing regularity. Depressing, because Americans always portray themselves as ‘the good guys’.
The recent escalation of conflict in Iraq is being viewed as ‘bad guys fighting bad guys’. Certainly in the US, and possibly elsewhere in the West, the attitude rules that ‘we good guys went to help them, but now we’ve left they’ve just reverted to being bad guys again’.
This is sad. Iraq has been in a state of semi-civil war since the West invaded in 2002. Not only were Iraqis fighting the US in the central areas, and the British in the south (who feel they’ve a god-given right to march into any part of the Middle East at will, simply because they were mandated the place by the League of Nations in 1919), but the enforced demise of Saddam Hussein created a political vacuum that opened the floodgates of Shia resentment, egged on by Shia clerics and others seeking political power, that’s produced violent skirmishes between Sunni and Shia for the last three years.
The West refuses to admit the present conflagration is a direct result of its illegal intervention in 2002. Tony Blair was quick (too quick?) to state that recent events would have occurred without the West’s invasion and its occupation of the country from 2002 to 2011:
“We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that ‘we’ have caused this. We haven’t. We can argue as to whether our policies at points have helped or not; and whether action or inaction is the best policy and there is a lot to be said on both sides. But the fundamental cause of the crisis lies within the region not outside it,” he wrote. Mr Blair added that it is a “bizarre reading of the cauldron that is the Middle East today, to claim that but for the removal of Saddam, we would not have a crisis”.
Blair is wrong. But then, Blair has a vested interest in continuing to proclaim his innocence over the Iraq issue. A long awaited UK report into the Iraq War is soon to be published, and while it will undoubtedly be heavily whitewashed, Blair is unlikely to escape criticism.
Unfortunately, in the US no such report will ever be considered, least of all reach the light of public gaze. Here, wars are only ever fought by the ‘good guys’ in the US against the ‘bad guys’ everywhere else – anywhere there happens to be oil, or some other economic commodity necessary for maintaining the status of this self-appointed ‘superpower’.
Notable for their crawl out of the woodwork of late have been certain members of that unholy band of brethren once known as the Project for the New American Century. The utter failure of their nefarious plans to take-over the Middle East, beginning with Iraq, caused the PNAC to (officially) disband. They have not, however, been mowing their lawns and pruning their roses over the last few years. Cheney, Wolfowitz, Kristol, Rumsfeld, and others have been seen recently touring the right-wing media outlets, taking every opportunity to malign the present administration for its ‘lack of military muscle’, which is, according to them, entirely responsible for the situation in the Middle East today.
They are as wrong as Tony Blair. But then, war crimes perpetrators are always quick (too quick?) to defend the morality of their actions. Cheney was fast onto that old chestnut of: ‘…another 9/11 just waiting to happen, and next time accompanied by a mushroom cloud’.
Ah, yes, Mister Cheney, we all remember the mushroom cloud of 2001-2002, magically conjured from a fantasy smoking gun, though only in the dream-world of the Bush administration’s imagination.
American politicians never learn from their mistakes, partly because they never admit to making any. De-throning Saddam Hussein was the worst blunder they could have made in the Middle East. Countless thousands have paid with their lives, and will continue to do so, in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Afghanistan.
Saddam, Mubarak, Gaddafi, like Assad, ruled with an iron fist. When your enemies are religious fanatics bent on bringing the nation to its knees, is there any other way? Secular dictators have to be at least marginally preferred to Islamic fanatics whose idea of implementing Sharia law is to torture, rape, murder, and mutilate those who fail to abide by their twisted philosophies. It’s no accident of history that many Middle Eastern nations are controlled by powerful dictators or monarchs. For centuries it’s been the only method of maintaining peace and preventing religious rivalry from running amok.
The West has made yet another mistake by not learning from their last one. Supporting the rebels against Assad in Syria has allowed Islamic terrorists like ISIS free reign in that country, with the opportunity to recruit members (many British), purloin arms (mostly American), and become a formidable fighting force with every man happy to die for their misguided ideology.
Even now, the US media is still talking of a ‘possible diplomatic solution’, if only to say it seems unlikely. ‘Unlikely’ is perhaps the understatement of all understatements. ISIS has no diplomats among its leadership.
Had the West not invaded Iraq in 2002, Saddam Hussein would have kept his tight rein on Shia and Sunni extremists in his country, as he had done for nearly three decades. Despite a similar religious allegiance (Sunni), he would not tolerate al Qaida or any of its affiliates. The Arab Spring would likely never have occurred. Egypt would have remained a relatively safe environment for tourists, instead of the hotbed of turmoil and religious violence it is today, with its attendant economic problems; thousands of Syrians would still be alive and living comfortably in their homes; Libya would not be in the throes of violent conflict, and Iraq would not now be facing a terrible and bloody war, which will have devastating consequences for the whole region if ISIS manages to gain the upper hand.
But then, its just bad guys fighting bad guys, and the only question on the lips of most in the West is: should the good guys once again come riding to their rescue?
 “Tony Blair: Syria conflict is to blame for current Iraq crisis” Independent, June 24th 2014