When we see Iraq–and the rest of the Middle East–in chaos, one has to wonder if the Iraq War was worth it.
Thousands of Americans died, thousands more left Iraq with physical and mental injuries we’ll be paying for a long time. Let’s not forget of the thousands of Iraqis who died, the “surge” that only delayed the inevitable civil war, and only helped drive the total cost of that gross misadventure to $4-$6 trillion.
Yet, those numbers don’t anger the same crowd who’ve spent the last six years complaining about debt and deficits.
Was that a good return on investment?
Look at the Middle East today. I’d say, no.
Did the war that disposed of dictator Saddam Hussein make the world a better place? Without Saddam holding ground in Iraq, Iran has experienced greater influence in its neighboring country that it probably never dreamed possible.
Also, by ousting Saddam and our subsequent failure at turning Iraq into a privatized utopia many neoconservatives wished, terror groups like ISIS are feeding-off the anger and ignorance of poor Sunnis.
For some reason that’s beyond me (other than proving to me that President Obama has always been a secret Eisenhower-like Republican), we’re getting ourselves involved in another Middle Eastern conflict. We’re now going to give weapons to “moderate” Syrian rebels to fight ISIS.
Why don’t I feel optimistic about this one? Is it going to be different than the rest of the misadventures we’ve gotten ourselves into during the last few decades in the Middle East?
Jeffrey Sachs explains that thanks to domestic politics, we keep making poor decisions over there. That’s happening now, I’m afraid.
Sachs thinks now is the time for U.S. to force others to fix the ISIS problem:
If the US had a real strategy for national success, we would let the Middle East face and resolve its own crises, and demand a UN framework for action. We would team up not with NATO, but with the UN Security Council, and put others (for once!) into the lead. We would actually mobilize to solve the real problems facing the region: poverty, hunger, drought, and unemployment. Those are the crises that at the end of the day cause men and boys to fling their lives into useless and suicidal slaughter. If just once in our times US politicians had the bravery to build coalitions to improve the lives of the people through development rather than through bombs, the US public would be amazed to see how much agreement and goodwill could quickly generate. Instead we head to war.
Why do that when Senator Lindsay Graham is telling me ISIS will show-up on my backdoor unless we bomb now, then send-in ground troops.
With what money?