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What are OUR Interests in Iraq?

Has anyone stopped to ask or define?

Is it that we are still following the 'Powell Doctrine':  "you break it, you own it."

Or is it that our own stubbornness to admit defeat, that will descend us into yet another ill-conceived 'misadventure' -- with yet another unmet-price-tag, in terms of 'blood and treasure' -- (that those in Congress will simply ignore)?

US: Iraqi Insurgency Threatens American Interests

by Lara Jakes, AP National Security Writer, London; -- June 13, 2014

The U.S. is contemplating military action in Iraq to quell the fast-moving insurgency because it has spent years investing in Iraq's future, Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday.

Kerry said the Sunni insurgency, which has swept to control of several cities in Iraq's west and north, is also plotting against American and Western interests.

Kerry said a decision would be made soon.

"Iraq is a country we've had a very direct relationship with, very direct investment and engagement with, not to mention the lives of our soldiers who were lost there, providing this opportunity to them," Kerry told reporters at the end of a conference in London on combating sexual violence in conflict zones. "And I don't think anybody in the region, or in this administration, believes it is in the interest of the United States to turn our backs on that."

What are these "American and Western interests"?

Is it the principle of 'more and better' "Freedom?"  Is it the simple pragmatism of 'more and cheaper' Oil?

Or is it we 'care about' the country we rousted, disrupted, and eventually left -- broken and unfixed?

Wait a second, didn't the Iraq Government want us to leave?

Why did Romney react so harshly to news of Iraqi withdrawal?

by Jay Bookman, -- October 25, 2011

Upon taking office, President Obama and his team confronted that same resistance in attempting to extend the withdrawal deadline. And as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made clear over the weekend, that wasn’t going to change:
   “When the Americans asked for immunity, the Iraqi side answered that it was not possible. The discussions over the number of trainers and the place of training stopped. Now that the issue of immunity was decided and that no immunity to be given, the withdrawal has started.”
Given Iraq’s intransigence on that critical issue, what alternative course would a President Romney have taken? Would he have surrendered to Iraqi demands and exposed our troops to Iraqi law, which under Iraq’s constitution is based on Islamic law? [...]

Or would President Romney simply keep our troops in Iraq without permission of the Iraqi government? That would have been quite an ending to a war ostensibly fought for Iraqi freedom, and in fact labeled “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” The irony would have been compounded by the fact that we would be in defiance of international law, the very charge we used against Saddam Hussein to justify our invasion. We would reveal ourselves to be conquerors, not liberators, just as our worst critics claimed.

"Liberators" of who, what, and why?

"Liberators" from what?  "Liberators" of what?  And at what 'enduring' cost?

What are our Interests in Iraq?

Has anyone stopped to ask or define?

Well, the following writer has, with the sober pragmatism of a Geo-political tactician ...

Iraq:  The Mistake was Staying

by Harvey Sapolsky, -- March 18, 2013

The invasion of Iraq was necessary not because Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks on the United States. He wasn’t. Nor was it necessary because many (understandably) believed in 2003 that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. And it was certainly not necessary so that the U.S. could convert the Middle East to democracy, with Iraq becoming the leading example.

Instead, the necessary reason was the need for the U.S. to leave Saudi Arabia, the home of the two holiest sites of Sunni Islam. In 2003, the U.S. had over 10,000 troops in Saudi Arabia, mostly airmen, protecting the world’s prime oil supplier from Saddam Hussein, who had threatened the country continuously since his invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Al Qaeda largely justified its attack on the U.S. to the Muslim world by the American presence in Saudi Arabia.

Although the United States would seek al-Qaeda’s utter destruction through military action, leaving Saudi Arabia was a necessary action to rid the U.S. of the threat from Al Qaeda, and the road out of Saudi Arabia led through Baghdad. Why? Because Saudi Arabia would never be safe with Saddam in power. With Saddam deposed, and the Iraqi threat to Riyadh’s territorial integrity removed, the U.S. left Saudi Arabia in August 2003.

SO, it kind of sounds like {Saudi} "Mission Accomplished" to me.

So, WHAT are our 'ongoing and enduring' interests in Iraq? And at what 'ongoing and enduring' cost?

And exactly WHEN will be able to declare to the world once-again "Mission Accomplished"?

What are the objective milestones for the next sweeping "Declaration"?

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Comment Preferences

  •  that's an easy one (12+ / 0-)

    Operation Iraqi Liberation

    Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

    by Cedwyn on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:03:07 AM PDT

  •  I just wrote this comment in Jed's front-pager (14+ / 0-)

    ... on Obama's press conference:

    Can someone please explain the logic of trying

    ... to stand up an Iraqi military that displays no inclination to stand up on it's own?

    Never mind the fact that the government, for all intents and purposes, doesn't exist. So who would be bombing for, exactly?

    As I noted yesterday in this comment, the U.S. knew way back in 2005-2006 that the Iraqi military was a figment of everyone's imagination.

    Of course, that didn't stop us from funneling billions into the coffers of well-connected defense contractors the Iraqi army.

    What a sick fucking joke...

    "Bob Johnson doesn't have special privileges, because really, why would I entrust that guy with ANYTHING?" - kos, November 9, 2013

    by Bob Johnson on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:05:06 AM PDT

    •  good comment (6+ / 0-)

      Maybe we should just bomb every conflict,
      everywhere in the world,
      all at the same time.

      That'll fix it! ... (per war-monger John McCain).

      Sooner or later were going to have to: Trade in those Carbon Footprints ...

      by jamess on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:12:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I heard this morning either on NPR or (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jamess, commonmass, JeffW

      WPFW in DC an interview about Iraq intervention of a Professor of John Hopkins University, (my guess from his accent is that he was an Iranian native speaker), who thought that an US intervention is very necessary.

      Figure that.

      We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little. Manfred Max-Neef

      by mimi on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:17:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This Is A True Civil War... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jamess, Santa Susanna Kid

      Sunni v. Shiite v. Kurd

      What happens in Mosul and Tikrit which are both Sunni areas like the ISIS forces will not be repeated in Shia areas of Iraq.  People in the ISIS controlled areas generally support them because they are Sunni.  The current Shia controlled government has not been good to the Sunnis.  The fact that ISIS is possibly the most brutal faction in the world does not change the fact that this is a Civil War.  

      Besides Iran is the strongest and most organized Shiite controlled country in the Middle East and will get involved pretty soon.

      Our interest in the Region is stability which keeps world resource prices stable and allows us to do business with long term planning.  The best solution to this would be to split Iraq into 3 countries.  Unfortunately, no "Players" in the region want this.  Turkey wants to keep their Kurds in Turkey.  Iran would like to absorb  the Shiites.  And Russia has been backing the Sunnis (in Syria) for years.  The Western Interest is to keep Iraq's boundaries as they were drawn by the West nearly a hundred years ago.

      The one thing for certain is that we will see plenty of beheadings, retaliation, and bloodshed.  Religious Civil Wars are brutal.

  •  Our interests in Iraq (for now): (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, MarEng

    1.  Not allowing an aggressive, anti-American group to control territory.

    2.  Keeping Iraq unified and strong enough to serve as a counterweight to Iran.

    3.   Increasing oil production.

    4.  Having Iraq be a functioning  (classically liberal) democracy.

    Not necessarily in that order.

    •  and (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, too many people, Chi

      What is the Price Tag, for those varied and ongoing Interests?

      And WHO is going to pay them?

      -- the Fed's non-stop printing presses?

      Sooner or later were going to have to: Trade in those Carbon Footprints ...

      by jamess on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:19:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In order to do 2. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jamess, commonmass

      "keep Iraq unified" it would first have to be unified. And the point is that Reality is proving to us that it isn't and can't be unified. Iraq was arbitrarily created by colonizing powers in the past, and we -- the current colonizers of the world -- are trying to hold onto the colony that doesn't actually see itself as the whole we're trying to force it to be.

    •  Our interests (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jamess, Santa Susanna Kid
      1.  Not allowing an aggressive, anti-American group to control territory.
      ISIS, Islamic State in Iraq & Syria, is too extreme for al Qaeda.  They want the most conservative Sunni Muslim caliphate.  It is in the interests of every responsible nation in the world to prevent that.  How that can be done is another question.  Invasion by Iranian troops?  The vacuum we established by taking out Saddam was filled by a Shia Muslim puppet government controlled by Iran, anyway.  Good work, neocons!

      Can Iraq be kept unified?  Why bother?  Give the Sunni Muslim Kurds in the north their Kurdistan with its oil.  Give the Shia Muslim Arabs in the south their region with its oil.  Give the Sunni Muslim Arabs in the rest of Iraq the sand & gravel concession.

      The world still needs oil.  Lots of oil.  Cheaper the better for most of the world's population.  Iraqi oil production is important.

      Functioning democracy?  They don't have a clue what that means.  They'll still vote by sect, and by ethnicity, and by tribe, and by bribe.

    •  "OUR" interests? LOL. Give me a fucking break. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Not being a shareholder of the Military-Industrial Complex,  or of anything,  I have NO FUCKING INTERESTS in Iraq whatsoever.  Maybe YOU have some way of realizing a profit from the exercise,  but most of us ordinary schmucks don't own shares of anything.

      BTW,  for the record:  I will not be casting a vote in any election for any politician or Party that even dares to suggest we spend another fucking dime or another fucking drop of blood on Iraq.  I will certainly not vote for a politician who authorized the Iraq War in the first place,  no matter what party it is from.

      don't always believe what you think

      by claude on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 02:07:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Saddam and his regime wouldn't have (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jamess, commonmass, JeffW

    lasted forever anyway; so I imagine sooner or later something like this was bound to happen.  

    And I'd like to help the people but don't see how.

    If we need to be there at some point to protect our oil interests, then we focus on just that, go there and take up defensive postures - otherwise we should try harder to become more oil independent, and pronto.

    Best Scientist Ever Predicts Bacon Will Be Element 119 On The Periodic Table

    by dov12348 on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:28:26 AM PDT

  •  Take away the oil Iraq puts on the (4+ / 0-)

    market and gas prices in the USA jump a coupla dollars a gallon.  How's that going to effect our economy?  The world economy?

    These ISIL rebels seem to be the teabaggers of their region.....Shi'a in charge - bad!  Must get old guard Sunni back in charge.

    Not that complicated.  

    However, our interests are the cost of oil and not letting Taliban have another Afghanistan from which to harden, strengthen and ultimately attack again.  In order to make sure that doesn't happen though, the Middle Eastern countries would have to be like Europe, with US military bases strewn all over the place.  That is not a popular opinion among Americans, even though it is what would be necessary.

    It's a mess.  We told everyone way back in 2003 - don't do it.  2 million of us marched and said don't do it.  This will happen...and here we are.

    "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.: Maya Angelou

    by PsychoSavannah on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:33:11 AM PDT

    •  I marched against the first Gulf War. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jamess, too many people, claude, Chi

      Russia can annex part of Ukraine but Iraq cannot invade Kuwait? Really?

      Russia, by the way, is a huge oil and gas producer. Most of Europe depends on it. I know--I used to live in Vienna, which depended upon Russian gas. We don't need Iraq's oil. Really, we don't.


      by commonmass on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:38:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was among (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        commonmass, too many people

        the 10% saying the Iraq Offensive, was a Big Mistake

        -- BEFORE it started.

        My co-workers, proceeded to question my "Patriotism."

        But for some strange reason, I actually believed Scott Ritter's warnings.

        Sooner or later were going to have to: Trade in those Carbon Footprints ...

        by jamess on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:44:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What is funny about the first gulf war is that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jamess, Chi

          the Soviet Union was allied with us in that war. Many people forget that.

          SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

          by commonmass on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:48:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  they smeared him with some bimbo story (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jamess, commonmass

          or something. I remember only that I thought at that time that he is more right than wrong and that just because he seemed to be "slimey" to some, did not make him more wrong than right in his political view points.

          It is amazing how many female journalists or producers judge some men not by what they try to express politically but by what their personalities feels like to a woman's guts.

          Assange, Snowden, Greenwald what have you all emotionally rejected because they don't feel right...

          I am glad I am out of that environment.

          We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little. Manfred Max-Neef

          by mimi on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:52:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh please (0+ / 0-)

            I'm sick and tired of people so willing to excuse sex abuse, rape, pedophilia, whatever if the perpetrator is one of "our guys".

            Scott Ritter's first arrest for trying to pick up young girls on the net was in 2001, long before he became a lightning rod on Iraq; he got six months probation. Yes, someone leaked his sealed record during the Iraq conflict, which could well have been poltiical revenge, but that doesn't change the fact that the incident in question happened back when he wasn't a controversial figure. Then in 2009, when pretty much everyone had forgotten about Ritter, he did it again, exposing himself on a web chat to someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl. He was conficted by a jury on all but one minor charge.

            If Scott Ritter doesn't want people thinking that he's trying to pick up underaged girls on the net, he needs to stop trying to pick up underaged girls on the net.

            For gods sake, when will people like you stop making excuses for people who do stuff like that just because they take your side on political issues?

            The day I'll consider justice blind is the day that a rape defendant's claim of "She consented to the sex" is treated by the same legal standards as a robbery defendant's claim of "He consented to give me the money": as an affirmative defense.

            by Rei on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 08:36:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  There were far more tan 10% against (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the war before it started. In fact, more people were against it more of the time than for it. After the war started support shot up to over 70%, but prior to the start the country didn't want a war.

          No War but Class War

          by AoT on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 07:51:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I can tell you what our interest is in the Middle (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jamess, The Termite

    East in general, aside from oil: ISRAEL. I have my issues with Israel, though they are our allies and I certainly would not deny their right to exist. However, were it not for Israel, my suspicion is that we'd let the Middle East eat each other for lunch.


    by commonmass on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:33:25 AM PDT

    •  No, oil beats Israel (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jamess, commonmass, a2nite, limpidglass, Chi

      Control of the Persian Gulf oil supply has been a key strategic interest of the United States for decades.  

      It is far more important than Israel and something the United States will act on if there is a threat as there was in the first Gulf War.

      •  Oil beats Israel only because of the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jamess, a2nite

        commercial aspect, not because we necessarily need it. Because corporate America WANTS it.


        by commonmass on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:47:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          limpidglass, jamess, Deep Texan, Chi

          1.  Our economy runs on oil.  The price shock from a significant reduction in the oil supply could be quite damaging.

          2.  Our military runs on oil.  The strategic and tactical consequences of losing access to unlimited oil could be significant.  

          3.  European economies and Japan's are more dependent on Persian Gulf oil than oil than we are. To the extent we have an interest in protecting them, we have a need to control the Persian Gulf.

          Corporate america does want cheap oil;  so does middle class America and national security America.  It is the last that actually has the most influence on our foreign policy.

      •  I have always believed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jamess, Chi

        that once the interests of Saudi Arabia and Israel diverge (and they will--it's only fear of Iran that keeps them allies), that the United States will side with the Kingdom in a heartbeat and leave Israel to twist in the wind, despite all the money and PR they've invested in swaying American politicians.

        Our whole economic system depends on cheap oil. Without it, our economy would come to a halt and there would be another Great Depression.

        Remember that Nixon had secret plans (never acted upon) to invade and seize the Saudi oil fields in case the Arab oil embargo became prolonged. Fortunately, it did not.

        We have fought two wars for oil in Iraq alone. It was not Israel that drew us into the Gulf War--it was the fear that Saddam would seize the Saudi oil fields. We built bases in Saudi Arabia to protect them against further Iraqi aggression.

        Israel has nothing that can compete with that powerful motive, oil. Economics will win every time.

        "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

        by limpidglass on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 10:09:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I seriously doubt we ever cut ties with Israel. (0+ / 0-)

          Christian Fundies vote only one way on the topic. Their reasons are religious (that is dogmatic as opposed to spiritual) They will never waver. I don't see AIPAC going away or changing their stance on Israel anytime soon. Who knows what 2059 will be like, but We will be supporting Israel way past 2020, in my opinion.

  •  There will come a day when everyone will (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jamess, jayden, AoT

    want to invade Michigan - because we've got WATER.

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:51:29 AM PDT

  •  A stable, free Iraq would be in our interest (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jamess, AoT

    Hugely so.

    Such an Iraq would act as a pillar within the Middle East. The simple fact is that the U.S. has varied geopolitical interests all throughout the Middle East, and one lest unstable, violence-racked country--and one that was considerable in population and potential GDP--would be quite beneficial to us, overall.

    The problem is, no such Iraq exists nor is poised to exist any time soon, and the prospect of ever achieving such an Iraq is close to nil. That Iraq is a neocon fantasy that completely ignores the history of ethnic and religious strife in a country that was made by arbitrary delineations on a map by white, Christian colonialist powers. It's a fiction.

    But the other problem is that the teetering, violence-racked country of Iraq today is an ally, and our other allies in the region are going to pay very, very close attention to how we respond to this crisis. Any sense they get of the U.S. abandoning an ally--one of our very own making!--would be pretty harmful to any role we could have in helping stabalize the region. The blow to our reputation would be significant.

    In short, it's a mess, and there's no easy answer for it. We're going to face bad consequences of Bush's illegal war for generations to come. And nobody really knows how to best handle it--anyone who claims such is a fool.

    •  We're not going to face them so much (0+ / 0-)

      as Iraq is going to face them. Sure, there's the debt, but that's not such a big deal.

      No War but Class War

      by AoT on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 07:58:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We'll face them beyond just debt. (0+ / 0-)

        An unstable Iraq is going to have ripple effects on the stability of the whole region, and that will also ripple outward. The negative feelings towards the U.S. are going to be ingrained in the region for generations to come, too.

        We live in an ever-interconnected world, and just because that turmoil is half a world away doesn't mean it won't effect us.

  •  ? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jamess, too many people

    Iraq Oil Fields photo iraq-oil-map-kurdistan_zps453bdccb.jpg

    "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

    by Subterranean on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 10:21:03 AM PDT

  •  most Iraqis like the borders and hate other Iraqis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    All the factions except the Kurds wants to keep Iraq's borders as they are.  The problem is that they want to run the whole country as if they're the only people living there: all the power, all the government jobs, all the oil money, One True Faith, etc.

    There's no oil in the Sunni Triangle to the west, so the Sunnis have every incentive to keep Iraq together ... especially since they ran the show under Saddam.  Sunni Islamists would much rather expel or exterminate the Shiites than break up the country.  Iran wants a compliant client state, not to carve off the Shiite areas and annex them (and enlarge its own Arab minority).  

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 10:32:56 AM PDT

  •  Oil, of course (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jamess, Deep Texan, FakeNews

    It's always been oil.

    "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

    by gjohnsit on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 10:35:48 AM PDT

    •  Quote from "Three Days of the Condor" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gjohnsit, jamess, too many people

      Higgins: It's simple economics. Today it's oil, right? In ten or fifteen years, food. Plutonium. Maybe even sooner. Now, what do you think the people are gonna want us to do then?

      Joe Turner: Ask them?

      Higgins: Not now - then! Ask 'em when they're running out. Ask 'em when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask 'em when their engines stop. Ask 'em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won't want us to ask 'em. They'll just want us to get it for 'em!

  •  The spice must flow. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 11:12:02 AM PDT

  •  Staying the hell out of it! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jamess, too many people
    •  No shit! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      How arrogant and clueless we are to think our presence helps the people of Iraq, who want us out. Whichever side we support will be doomed by being tainted by our support.

      Yes, there is oil to be had, but that is the last thing we need now - more co2 in the air. Also, that oil is not our oil!

      We are only making their problems more complicated. We need to stay out and let the inevitable breakup into ethnic regions commence.

      Iraq, like most of the Middle East, has unnatural boundaries, drawn by Western powers, with the purpose of controlling the region's resources. Combine this with global warming, drought, food scarcity, and ethnic divisions to get the current unsustainable situation. Political upheaval is inevitable.

  •  Well, be'd better be prepared to pay for it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I can't even pretend to be able to wrap my mind about all the geopolitical implications.  But if we're going back into intervention mode, then our Congress had best be prepared to pay for it by raising taxes on those that can afford it, meaning raise taxes on the wealthy.  

    Every election is the most important election.

    by TokayAsriel on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 12:48:51 PM PDT

  •  Hmmmmmm... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Could it be


    Just guessing.

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