The Surge Fallacy

Having misunderstood the Iraq War, U.S. Republicans are taking a dangerously hawkish turn on foreign policy.

Source: Portside

Author:

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: the decision to withdraw troops from Iraq was made in 2008, by the Bush administration).

Over the past decade, the foreign-policy debate in Washington has turned upside down. As George W. Bush’s administration drew to an end, the brand of ambitious, expensive, Manichaean, militaristic foreign policy commonly dubbed “neoconservative” seemed on the verge of collapse. In December 2006, the Iraq Study Group, which included such Republican eminences as James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger, Ed Meese, and Alan Simpson, repudiated Bush’s core approach to the Middle East. The group not only called for the withdrawal from Iraq by early 2008 of all U.S. combat troops not necessary for force protection. It also proposed that the United States begin a “diplomatic dialogue, without preconditions,” with the government of Iran, which Bush had included in his “axis of evil,” and that it make the Arab-Israeli peace process, long scorned by hawks, a priority. Other prominent Republicans defected too. Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon called the president’s Iraq policy “absurd” if not “criminal.” George Will, the dean of conservative columnists, deemed neoconservatism a “spectacularly misnamed radicalism” that true conservatives should disdain.

That was then. Today, hawkishness is the hottest thing on the American right. With the exception of Rand Paul, the GOP presidential contenders are vying to take the most aggressive stance against Iran and the Islamic State, or ISIS. The most celebrated freshman Republican senator is Tom Cotton, who gained fame with a letter to Iran’s leaders warning that the United States might not abide by a nuclear deal. According to recent polls, GOP voters now see national security as more important than either cultural issues or the economy. More than three-quarters of Republicans want American ground troops to fight ISIS in Iraq, and a plurality says that stopping Iran’s nuclear program requires an immediate military strike.

What explains the change? Above all, it’s the legend of the surge. The legend goes something like this: By sending more troops to Iraq in 2007, George W. Bush finally won the Iraq War. Then Barack Obama, by withdrawing U.S. troops, lost it. Because of Obama’s troop withdrawal, and his general refusal to exercise American power, Iraq collapsed, ISIS rose, and the Middle East fell apart. “We had it won, thanks to the surge,” Senator John McCain declared last September. “The problems we face in Iraq today,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal argued in May, “I don’t think were because of President Bush’s strength, but rather have come about because of President Obama’s weakness.”

For today’s GOP leaders, this story line has squelched the doubts about the Iraq invasion that a decade ago threatened to transform conservative foreign policy. The legend of the surge has become this era’s equivalent of the legend that America was winning in Vietnam until, in the words of Richard Nixon’s former defense secretary Melvin Laird, “Congress snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by cutting off funding for our ally in 1975.” In the late 1970s, the legend of the congressional cutoff—and it was a legend; Congress reduced but never cut off South Vietnam’s aid—spurred the hawkish revival that helped elect Ronald Reagan. As we approach 2016, the legend of the surge is playing a similar role. Which is why it’s so important to understand that the legend is wrong.

By 2006, three years after American troops deposed Saddam Hussein, the situation in Iraq had grown terrifying. Violence had begun with a largely Sunni insurgency against the American occupiers and the Shia Muslims they had brought to power. But after Sunni jihadists bombed a famous Shia mosque in Samarra that February, Shia militias retaliated, sparking wholesale slaughter across the sectarian divide. The Tigris River became so clogged with human corpses that some Iraqis stopped eating its fish, believing their taste had changed.

In January 2007, Bush responded to these horrors not by withdrawing U.S. troops, but by sending 30,000 more. He also redirected U.S. military strategy. Under the leadership of General David Petraeus, U.S. troops began focusing less on killing insurgents and more on protecting Iraqi civilians, in hopes of reducing the insecurity that allowed the insurgency to thrive. American troops, working alongside Iraqi ones, went to live among the Iraqi people.

Fortuitously, these changes coincided with a shift among some Sunni leaders. By 2007, many had grown alienated by the harsh fanaticism of the al-Qaeda jihadists who had taken up residence in their midst. More important, some Sunni leaders realized that they could not defeat the more numerous Shia. Driven out of large sections of Baghdad, they came to see American troops as the only force capable of saving them.

In a daring about-face, Petraeus’s forces began paying the very Sunnis who had once fought Americans to fight al-Qaeda instead. That August, seeing a drop in Sunni attacks, the Shia militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr agreed to a cease-fire. The decline in violence was astonishing: In 2007, the war took the lives of 26,000 Iraqi civilians. In 2008, that number fell to just over 10,000. By 2009, it was down to about 5,000. When Republicans today claim that the surge succeeded—and that with it Bush won the war—this is what they mean.

But they forget something crucial. The surge was not intended merely to reduce violence. Reducing violence was a means to a larger goal: political reconciliation. Only when Iraq’s Sunni and Shia Arabs and its Kurds all felt represented by the government would the country be safe from civil war. As a senior administration official told journalists the day Bush announced the surge, “The purpose of all this is to get the violence in Baghdad down, get control of the situation and the sectarian violence, because now, without it, the reconciliation that everybody knows in the long term is the key to getting security in the country—the reconciliation will not happen.”

But although the violence went down, the reconciliation never occurred. According to the legend of the surge, Iraq’s collapse stems from Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops at the end of 2011. “If we’d had a residual force of 10,000 to 12,000,” Senator Lindsey Graham said last year, “I am totally convinced there would not have been a rise of al-Qaeda.” In reality, the prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, began persecuting the Sunnis—thus laying the groundwork for their embrace of ISIS—long before American troops departed the country. As early as 2007, writes Emma Sky, who advised both Petraeus and his successor, General Ray Odierno, “the U.S. military was frustrated by what they viewed as the schemes of Maliki and his inner circle to actively sabotage our efforts to draw Sunnis out of the insurgency.” In August 2008, Shawn Brimley and Colin Kahl, then affiliated with the Center for a New American Security, warned:

There is a gathering storm on Iraq’s horizon. Over the last several weeks, its central government has embarked on what appears to be an effort to arrest, drive away or otherwise intimidate tens of thousands of Sunni security volunteers … If Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and his advisors persist in this sectarian agenda, the country may spiral back into chaos.

The tragedy of post-surge Iraq has its roots in America’s failure to make the Iraqi government more inclusive—a failure that began under Bush and deepened under Obama. In 2010, Sunnis, who had largely boycotted Iraq’s 2005 elections, helped give a mixed Shia-Sunni bloc called Iraqiya two more seats in parliament than Maliki’s party won. But the Obama administration helped Maliki retain power. And Obama publicly praised him for “ensuring a strong, prosperous, inclusive, and democratic Iraq” even after he tried to arrest his vice president and other prominent Sunni leaders.

These errors came well before Obama’s decision to remove American troops at the end of 2011. The fact is, the U.S. failed to stop Maliki’s slide into sectarian tyranny even when it still had 100,000 troops patrolling Iraqi soil. That’s because America had already lost much of its leverage. Once the surge succeeded in reducing violence, Maliki no longer needed American troops to keep him in power. By 2010, U.S. aid to Iraq had dropped dramatically. Iraq was buying American weapons, but had the oil revenue to buy them elsewhere if America stopped selling. And the Obama administration could not pressure Maliki by threatening to withdraw U.S. troops, because Maliki wanted them gone. So did most of the Iraqi people.

The problem with the legend of the surge is that it reproduces the very hubris that led America into Iraq in the first place. In 2003, the Bush administration believed it could shatter the Iraqi state and then quickly and cheaply construct a new one that was stable, liberal, democratic, and loyal to the United States. By 2006, many conservatives had realized that was a fantasy. They had massively overestimated America’s wisdom and power, and so they began groping for a new approach to the world. But then, in 2007 and 2008, through a series of bold innovations, the United States military bribed, cajoled, and bludgeoned Iraqis into multiple cease-fires. The Iraqi state was still broken; its new ruling elite showed little of the political magnanimity necessary to reconstruct it in an inclusive fashion. And the Band-Aids that Petraeus and his troops had courageously affixed began peeling off almost immediately. Nonetheless, Republicans today say the Iraq War was won, and would have remained won, had the U.S. left 10,000 troops in the country after 2011.

How much damage will the GOP’s revived hubris do? Inconceivable as it would have seemed a few years ago, Graham, who is now a Republican presidential hopeful, has suggested sending 10,000 American ground troops back into Iraq. (His GOP rivals generally support this idea but have not proposed exact troop numbers.) The U.S. is unlikely to send a sizable American ground force back into Iraq. But this line of thinking is troubling nonetheless, because the same wild overestimation of American power that fueled the war in Iraq now fuels the right’s opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran. To hear hawks tell it, the United States can scuttle the current deal, intensify sanctions, threaten war, and—presto—Tehran will capitulate. But Iranians have been living under the threat of attacks from America or Israel for more than a decade now. And British and German diplomats have warned that if the U.S. Congress torpedoes the agreement, sanctions pressure on Iran will go not up but down, as countries that have lost billions by limiting their trade with Tehran stop doing so.

One day, Republicans will resume the painful work they began in 2006—the work of reconciling conservative attitudes with the limits of American power. Let’s hope they don’t do too much damage before that day comes.

Peter Beinart is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and National Journal, an associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York, and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.

See:

Paul Krugman Drops Epic Truth Bomb on Latest Round of Lies About Iraq War

Source: AlterNet

Author: Janet Allon

Emphasis Mine 

“Mistakes were made” just doesn’t get at the truth about how America was coerced into the disastrous war in Iraq,and the horrific consequences that are still unfolding. Paul Krugman sets the record straight in Monday’s column, beginning with the ironic statement, that “there’s something to be said for having the brother of a failed president make his own run for the White House.”

Yep, Jeb Bush has unwittingly ushered in the chance to have an honest discussion about the invasion of Iraq. About time.

Of course, Bush and a whole lot of other people would prefer not to have that honest discussion, or if they do, to make excuses for themselves (Judith Miller.) ,

The Iraq War was no innocent mistake based on faulty intelligence, Krugman argues compellingly. “America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war,” he writes. “The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war.”

And we knew it—or certainly should have. Krugman:

The fraudulence of the case for war was actually obvious even at the time: the ever-shifting arguments for an unchanging goal were a dead giveaway. So were the word games — the talk about W.M.D that conflated chemical weapons (which many people did think Saddam had) with nukes, the constant insinuations that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11.

And at this point we have plenty of evidence to confirm everything the war’s opponents were saying. We now know, for example, that on 9/11 itself — literally before the dust had settled — Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, was already plotting war against a regime that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. “Judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] …sweep it all up things related and not”; so read notes taken by Mr. Rumsfeld’s aide.

This was, in short, a war the White House wanted, and all of the supposed mistakes that, as Jeb puts it, “were made” by someone unnamed actually flowed from this underlying desire. Did the intelligence agencies wrongly conclude that Iraq had chemical weapons and a nuclear program? That’s because they were under intense pressure to justify the war. Did prewar assessments vastly understate the difficulty and cost of occupation? That’s because the war party didn’t want to hear anything that might raise doubts about the rush to invade. Indeed, the Army’s chief of staff was effectively fired for questioning claims that the occupation phase would be cheap and easy.

The harder question is why? Here, Krugman can only speculate. Enhancing American power? Building the Republican brand? It is impossible not to ascribe cynical motives.

So politicians and many in the media don’t want to talk about it. But Krugman argues we should hold their feet to the fire. Some may have been duped. Others bullied. Many were downright complicit. “The bigger the lie, the clearer it is that major political figures are engaged in outright fraud,” Krugman writes. “And it doesn’t get much bigger — indeed, more or less criminal — than lying America into war.”

The media, Krugman concludes, has an obligation to get the story right. Right now.

 

See: http://www.alternet.org/media/paul-krugman-drops-epic-truth-bomb-latest-round-lies-about-iraq-war?akid=13114.123424.-LZ-1V&rd=1&src=newsletter1036524&t=1

A Fraternity of Failure: Paul Krugman On How Neocon Ideology Rewards Being Wrong

The only “experts” left standing are those who made all the approved mistakes.

source: AlterNet

author: Adam Johnson

Emphasis Mine

Friday morning, Paul Krugman looked past the 24-hour 2016 media cycle to examine the true mechanisms behind Jeb Bush’s week of backtracking and Iraq War revisionism. Krugman argues, quite convincingly, that Bush’s inability to articulate a coherent position on Iraq – or the economy – is due to the fact that the GOP establishment, still held captive by the neoconservative clergy class, are constantly trying to fit a rigid ideological square peg into the round hole of reality.

W’s Iraq War was a categorical and unquestionable failure in every sense. Moral, strategic, legal, political: the wrongheadedness of the 2003 invasion isbroadly seen as one of the few black and whites in contemporary politics, despite recent attempts to “rebrand” the Bush presidency as anything other than a total disaster. Nevertheless, here we are. Little brother must at once acknowledge that the Iraq War was a bad idea while simultaneously not rejecting the American Enterprise Institute orthodoxy that makes up his inner circle and their entire foreign policy ethos. Krugman would call it what it was, total sleaze:

Then he tried to walk it back. He “interpreted the question wrong,” and isn’t interested in engaging “hypotheticals.” Anyway, “going back in time” is a “disservice” to those who served in the war.

Take a moment to savor the cowardice and vileness of that last remark. And, no, that’s not hyperbole. Mr. Bush is trying to hide behind the troops, pretending that any criticism of political leaders — especially, of course, his brother, the commander in chief — is an attack on the courage and patriotism of those who paid the price for their superiors’ mistakes. That’s sinking very low, and it tells us a lot more about the candidate’s character than any number of up-close-and-personal interviews.

Wait, there’s more: Incredibly, Mr. Bush resorted to the old passive-voice dodge, admitting only that “mistakes were made.” Indeed. By whom? Well, earlier this year Mr. Bush released a list of his chief advisers on foreign policy, and it was a who’s-who of mistake-makers, people who played essential roles in the Iraq disaster and other debacles.

Seriously, consider that list, which includes such luminaries as Paul Wolfowitz, who insisted that we would be welcomed as liberators and that the war would cost almost nothing, and Michael Chertoff, who as director of the Department of Homeland Security during Hurricane Katrina was unaware of the thousands of people stranded at the New Orleans convention center without food and water.

But this unchecked hubris wouldn’t be limited to just foreign policy. As Krugman would explain:

Take my usual focus, economic policy. If you look at the list of economists who appear to have significant influence on Republican leaders, including the likely presidential candidates, you find that nearly all of them agreed, back during the “Bush boom,” that there was no housing bubble and the American economic future was bright; that nearly all of them predicted that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to fight the economic crisis that developed when that nonexistent bubble popped would lead to severe inflation; and that nearly all of them predicted that Obamacare, which went fully into effect in 2014, would be a huge job-killer.

Given how badly these predictions turned out — we had the biggest housing bust in history, inflation paranoia has been wrong for six years and counting, and 2014 delivered the best job growth since 1999 — you might think that there would be some room in the G.O.P. for economists who didn’t get everything wrong. But there isn’t. Having been completely wrong about the economy, like having been completely wrong about Iraq, seems to be a required credential.

The craven team that made up W’s White House sits in waiting. Backed by the same toxic mix of free-market ideologues, religious extremists, and pseudo-centrist apologists, Jeb is trying the same lay low strategy his brother did in 2000. The only problem, politically, is that he must carry the baggage of a Presidency so inept and corrupt it’s become shorthand for what one doesn’t want in a President. Americans notoriously have short memories, but, as Bush is finding out, there are limits to our collective amnesia. As Krugman would note:

What’s going on here? My best explanation is that we’re witnessing the effects of extreme tribalism. On the modern right, everything is a political litmus test. Anyone who tried to think through the pros and cons of the Iraq war was, by definition, an enemy of President George W. Bush and probably hated America; anyone who questioned whether the Federal Reserve was really debasing the currency was surely an enemy of capitalism and freedom.

It doesn’t matter that the skeptics have been proved right. Simply raising questions about the orthodoxies of the moment leads to excommunication, from which there is no coming back. So the only “experts” left standing are those who made all the approved mistakes. It’s kind of a fraternity of failure: men and women united by a shared history of getting everything wrong, and refusing to admit it. Will they get the chance to add more chapters to their reign of error? Krugman hits the nail right on the head. The same arrogance and rigidity that refused for years to change course when it was clear Iraq was a lost cause are plaguing Jeb’s campaign, already. How to acknowledge you’re wrong without ever doing so? How to acknowledge you’ve made a mistake when you’re surrounded by people who think their brand of colonial adventurism is, quite literally, handed down by God? You can’t. The scars of Iraq are too deep. The pieces still being picked up. The PR strategists behind the Bush family’s latest attempt at the White House were counting on the American public to be ignorant of history. But with the ever-present war against ISIS that resulted from a chaos they helped create, it appears Bush’s team may have underestimated how deep the wounds they inflicted upon the body politic really are.

 

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/fraternity-failure-paul-krugman-how-neocon-ideology-rewards-always-being-wrong?akid=13108.123424.4PbJjl&rd=1&src=newsletter1036419&t=11

Noam Chomsky: The Major Crime of This Millennium Is the US Invasion of Iraq

Source:RSN

Author: RT

Emphasis Mine

Major American media organizations diligently parrot what US officials want the public to know about global affairs, historian Noam Chomsky told RT. To US leaders, any news outlet that “does not repeat the US propaganda system is intolerable,” he said.

The culpability of the West – namely the United States – for world affairs, such as the Ukrainian conflict or tensions with Iran, is another idea that is not permissible in leading American media, Chomsky said, adding that world opinion does not matter when that opinion counters US strategy.

“The West means the United States and everyone else that goes along,” he said. “What’s called the international community in the United States is the United States and anyone who happens to be going along with it. Take, say, for example, the question of Iran’s right to carry out its current nuclear policies, whatever they are. The standard line is that the international community objects to this. Who is the international community? What the United States determines it to be.”

He added that, “any reader of [George] Orwell would be perfectly familiar with this. But it continues virtually without comment.”

Chomsky’s remarks came this week just before a congressional hearing that was officially titled ‘Confronting Russia’s Weaponization of Information.’ Of the meeting, House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Ed Royce said, “The Russian media is now dividing societies abroad and, in fact, weaponizing information.”

The social philosopher and MIT professor said, “if there were any imaginable possibility of honesty,” Rep. Royce could be talking about the American media. He pointed to a recent New York Times story that discussed reasons not to trust Iran amid the tentative agreement between Tehran and Washington, along with other major global powers, over the former’s nuclear ambitions.

“The most interesting one is the charge that Iran is destabilizing the Middle East because it’s supporting militias which have killed American soldiers in Iraq,” Chomsky told RT’s Alexey Yaroshevsky.

“That’s kind of as if, in 1943, the Nazi press had criticized England because it was destabilizing Europe for supporting partisans who were killing German soldiers. In other words, the assumption is, when the United States invades, it kills a couple hundred thousand people, destroys the country, elicits sectarian conflicts that are now tearing Iraq and the region apart, that’s stabilization. If someone resists that tact, that’s destabilization.”

Chomsky also related American media propaganda to recent moves by US President Barack Obama to reach out to Cuba, which the US has long considered a state sponsor of terror while instituting a harsh embargo regime. Chomsky said top American media outlets go to great lengths to pit Cuba — and not the US — as the isolated party in the Western Hemisphere.

“The facts are very clear. This is a free and open society, so we have access to internal documents at an extraordinary level. You can’t claim you don’t know. It’s not like a totalitarian state where there are no records. We know what happened. The Kennedy administration launched a very serious terrorist war against Cuba. It was one of the factors that led to the missile crisis. It was a war that was planned to lead to an invasion in October 1962, which Cuba and Russia presumably knew about. It’s now assumed by scholarship that that’s one of the reasons for the placement of the missiles. That war went on for years. No mention of it is permissible [in the US]. The only thing you can mention is that there were some attempts to assassinate [Fidel] Castro. And those can be written off as ridiculous CIA shenanigans. But the terrorist war itself was very serious.”

Obama has changed course on Cuban policy not for reasons pursuant to freedom or democracy, as is peddled in the US media, Chomsky said.

“There is no noble gesture, just Obama’s recognition that the United States is practically being thrown out of the hemisphere because of its isolation on this topic,” he added. “But you can’t discuss that [in the US]. It’s all public information, nothing secret, all available in public documents, but undiscussable. Like the idea — and you can’t contemplate the idea — that when the US invades another country and the other resists, it’s not the resistors who are committing the crime, it’s the invaders.”

As for international law, Chomsky said it “can work up to the point where the great powers permit it.” Beyond that, it is meaningless. Thus, is international law an illusion if the US picks and chooses — while exempting itself — from what is enforced?

“To say that [international law is] dead implies it was ever alive. Has it ever been alive?” he said, citing US stonewalling of the world court’s demand in the 1980s that the US halt its war on Nicaragua and provide extensive reparations for damage done.

“International law cannot be enforced against great powers,” he said. “There’s no enforcement mechanism. Take a look at the International Criminal Court, who has investigated and sentenced African leaders who the US doesn’t like. The major crime of this millennium, certainly, is the US invasion of Iraq. Could that be brought to the international court? I mean, it’s beyond inconceivable.”

Chomsky said the so-called American Dream and US democracy are in “very serious decline, as social mobility is among the worst among the richest nations. He added that, formally, the US retains a democratic veneer, but actual manifestations of democracy are dwindling.

“Basically, most of the population is disenfranchised,” he said, referring to public polling. “Their representatives pay no attention to their opinion. That’s roughly the lowest three-quarters on the bottom of the income scale. Move up the scale, you get a little more influence. At the top, essentially policy is made. That’s plutocracy, not democracy.”

See: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/29725-noam-chomsky-the-major-crime-of-this-millennium-is-the-us-invasion-of-iraq

8 things to know about the Iraq crisis

Source: moveon.org

Author: Anna Galland

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: The current crisis in Iraq is a not too gentle reminder of the importance of separating church and state – The aim of ISIS is to create an Islamic state across Sunni areas of Iraq and in Syria – http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/12/world/meast/who-is-the-isis/)

U.S. bombing strikes are now well under way in Iraq in a military mission that President Obama said could go on for months.1 U.S. military planes have also been delivering vital humanitarian assistance to civilians fleeing the violence, including Yazidis who were forced onto Iraq’s Mount Sinjar by ISIS militants laying siege on the mountain.2

MoveOn members across the country have weighed in with thoughts on what’s happening in Iraq. There are varying opinions on different aspects of this crisis, but there are some common threads. Our hearts break for the people of Iraq who are living through this conflict. We know there are no simple solutions. And we’re united in our opposition to America sliding down the slippery slope to another war in Iraq.

As we all try to make sense of the events that are unfolding, here are eight things that you should know about the Iraq crisis.

Please read on and then share the list on Facebook, Twitter, or by emailing your friends. It’s vital that we engage the country in a conversation about the U.S. role in Iraq.

8 Things to Know about the Iraq Crisis

1. Right-wing war hawks are pushing for another full-blown war in Iraq.

Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, other Republicans in Congress, and right-wing figures—who blindly led America into invading and occupying Iraq—are now demanding more military action that could drag us back into full-scale war in the region.3,4,5

2. The slippery slope is real.

Mission creep can too easily occur—along with unintended consequences and new problems created by the use of U.S. military force.6,7 History shows us that many big wars start out looking small, including the Korean War and the Vietnam War.8 And we are now dealing with a prime example of unintended consequences: Bush’s war of choice and military occupation of Iraq set the stage for Iraq’s troubles today, including the rise of ISIS.9,10,11,12

3. Voters elected President Obama to end the Iraq war that George W. Bush recklessly started.

President Obama’s opposition to the Iraq war before it began and his pledge to end it—as part of the contrast between him and those who pushed for war—were key to his success in both the Democratic primary election and the general election in 2008.13 He continues to pledge that he “will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.”14,15

4. Ultimately, Iraq’s problems can be solved only by an Iraqi-led political solution.

President Obama has said that there is no military solution to the crisis in Iraq and that there can only be “an Iraqi solution.”16 As this explainer lays out:

“ISIS isn’t just a terrorist group rampaging through Iraq (though they definitely are that). It’s in many ways an expression of the Sunni Muslim minority’s anger at the Shia-dominated government. . . Some Sunni grievances get to more fundamental issues within the Iraqi state itself, beyond what even a better government could easily fix.”17

These are not problems that more U.S. bombings can solve. That’s why experts are saying that “any lasting solution has to be regional in nature and must address the political interests of all the major factions in an equitable and inclusive manner.”18

5. Members of Congress, including Democratic lawmakers, are insisting that the president come to Congress for authorization.

MoveOn members have long opposed endless war in Iraq. Earlier this summer, before the current bombing strikes began, MoveOn members made more than 15,000 calls to lawmakers, urging them to oppose U.S. military intervention in Iraq. In July, the House of Representatives listened to them and the rest of the American people to require, by a bipartisan vote of 370-40, the president to seek congressional authorization before deploying or maintaining a sustained combat role in Iraq.19 Congress should continue to assert its authority under the Constitution to authorize and oversee U.S. commitments to open-ended war overseas.

6. The Middle East is a complicated place where U.S. military intervention has a troubling track record.

The Middle East has many armed actors whose motivations often compete with each other and conflict with American values, and U.S. military intervention there has a track record of often making things worse.20,21 One tragic absurdity of this moment is that the U.S. military is now using U.S. equipment to bomb U.S. weapons wielded by enemies the U.S. didn’t intend to arm against the U.S. and U.S. allies.22 That’s a good reason to be concerned about the U.S. arming rebels in nearby Syria, which experts say wouldn’t have stopped the rise of ISIS anyway.23 Experts further warn that U.S. military force in the region only tends to create more problems, including the risk of terrorist retaliation.24

7. Military action could lead to even more innocent civilians getting caught in the crossfire and suffering.

The Iraq war that Bush started didn’t just cost America the lives of nearly 4,500 service members, plus $2 trillion according to modest estimates.25,26,27 Approximately 500,000 Iraqi civilians also died in the armed conflict—possibly more.28 In the current conflict, ISIS militants are persecuting various minority populations of Iraq, such as the Yazidis who had fled to Mount Sinjar.29 Escalating military action, including drone strikes, risks catching more civilians in the crossfire.30

8. Opposing endless war isn’t the same as being an isolationist. The Iraq crisis, including the humanitarian disaster, demands an international, diplomatic response.

We have options to support the people of Iraq, as well as tackle this crisis in a way that reflects America’s best interests and 21st century realities. For one, the U.S. can work through the United Nations and other multilateral organizations to support a major global diplomatic initiative.31 In the face of the current crisis, the Friends Committee on National Legislation also recommends a number of steps instead of U.S. bombings, such as working with other nations through the United Nations to organize humanitarian evacuations of stranded and trapped civilians, pressing for and upholding an arms embargo in Iraq and Syria, engaging with the UN to reinvigorate efforts for a lasting political solution for Iraq and Syria, and increasing humanitarian aid.32,33

It’s critically important that we engage the nation in conversation and debate to avoid endless war in Iraq. Can you share this “8 Things to Know about the Iraq Crisis” list with your family and friends? Use the links at the top and bottom of this page. Sources:1. “Iraq Airstrikes May Continue for Months, Obama Says,” The New York Times, August 9, 2014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/world/middleeast/iraq.html

2. “Despite U.S. Claims, Yazidis Say Crisis Is Not Over,” The New York Times, August 14, 2014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/15/world/middleeast/iraq-yazidis-obama-sinjar-crisis.html

3. “Republicans Want More US Military Action in Iraq,” Military.com, August 8, 2014

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2014/08/08/republicans-want-more-us-military-action-in-iraq.html

4. “Neocons to Obama: No half-measures,” Politico, August 8, 2014

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/conservatives-obama-iraq-airstrikes-109861.html

5. “Where Are The Media’s Iraq War Boosters 10 Years Later?,” Media Matters, March 19, 2013

http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/03/19/where-are-the-medias-iraq-war-boosters-10-years/193117

6. “Intentions and Opposite Results in Iraq,” The New York Times, December 4, 2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/05/books/05book.html

7. “The Slippery Slope of U.S. Intervention,” Foreign Policy, August 11, 2014

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/11/the_slippery_slope_of_us_intervention_iraq_islamic_state_humanitarian_intervention

8. “Can Obama avoid mission creep in Iraq?,” CNN, June 19, 2014

http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/19/opinion/zelizer-mission-creep/

9. “U.S. Actions in Iraq Fueled Rise of a Rebel,” The New York Times, August 10, 2014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/11/world/middleeast/us-actions-in-iraq-fueled-rise-of-a-rebel.html

10. “Fareed Zakaria: Who lost Iraq? The Iraqis did, with an assist from George W. Bush,” Washington Post, June 12, 2014

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fareed-zakaria-who-lost-iraq-the-iraqis-did-with-an-assist-from-george-w-bush/2014/06/12/35c5a418-f25c-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html

11. “Iraq’s crisis: Don’t forget the 2003 U.S. invasion,” Washington Post, June 16, 2014

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/06/16/iraqs-crisis-dont-forget-the-2003-u-s-invasion/

12. “ISIS Atrocities in Iraq Represent the Catastrophic Failure of Bush Doctrine and Neoconservative Foreign Policy,” Huffington Post, August 8, 2014

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-a-goodman/isis-atrocities-in-iraq-r_b_5661346.html

13. “Five Reasons Why Obama Won the ’08 Election,” About News, accessed August 13, 2014

http://usliberals.about.com/od/obamavsmccainin08/a/ObamaWin_4.htm

14. “Obama: US won’t get dragged into war,” The Hill, June 13, 2014

http://thehill.com/policy/international/209305-obama-insists-us-wont-get-dragged-back-into-iraq

15. “Obama, With Reluctance, Returns to Action in Iraq,” The New York Times, August 7, 2014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/08/world/middleeast/a-return-to-action.html

16. “Obama: ‘There Is No American Military Solution To The Larger Crisis In Iraq’,” Huffington Post, August 11, 2014

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/11/obama-iraq_n_5669474.html

17. “The chaos in Baghdad explains why Obama isn’t trying to destroy ISIS,” Vox, August 10, 2014

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/9/5983249/iraq-obama-isis-strategy

18. “Diplomacy Not More Arms Needed in Iraq and Syria,” Win Without War, June 19, 2014

http://winwithoutwar.org/cortright-iraq/

19. “House Votes For Checks On Obama’s Iraq War Powers,” Huffington Post, July 25, 2014

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/25/house-iraq-resolution_n_5621060.html

20. “The Middle East Friendship Chart,” Slate, July 17, 2014

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2014/07/17/the_middle_east_friendship_chart.html

21. “Failed Interventions and What They Teach,” Speech by Former Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr., USFS (Ret.), October 21, 2010

http://chasfreeman.net/failed-interventions-and-what-they-teach/

22. “The US bombing its own guns perfectly sums up America’s total failure in Iraq,” Vox, August 8, 2014

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/8/5982501/the-us-is-now-bombing-its-own-military-equipment-in-iraq

23. “Why arming Syria’s rebels wouldn’t have stopped ISIS,” Vox, August 13, 2014

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/13/5995793/arming-rebels-isis-political-science

24. “Experts Warn of Terrorism Blowback From Iraq Air Strikes,” Time Magazine, August 10, 2014

http://time.com/3096348/isis-iraq-barack-obama-blowback/

25. “Casualties in Iraq,” Antiwar.com, accessed August 13, 2014

http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/

26. “Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion: study,” Reuters, March 14, 2013

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27. “The Iraq War Could Cost More Than $6 Trillion,” Business Insider, March 14, 2013

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28. “Iraq Death Toll Reaches 500,000 Since Start Of U.S.-Led Invasion, New Study Says,” Huffington Post, October 15, 2013

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/15/iraq-death-toll_n_4102855.html

29. “Islamic State Killed 500 Yazidis, Buried Some Victims Alive,” Huffington Post, August 10, 2014

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30. “The Case Against Drone Strikes on People Who Only ‘Act’ Like Terrorists,” The Atlantic, August 19, 2013

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31. “Diplomacy Not More Arms Needed in Iraq and Syria,” Win Without War, June 19, 2014

http://winwithoutwar.org/cortright-iraq/

32. “Five Ways the U.S. Can Help Stop the Killing in Iraq,” Friends Committee on National Legislation, accessed August 13, 2014

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33. “Responding to the Crisis in Iraq — Without Bombs,” Friends Committee on National Legislation, August 13, 2014

http://fcnl.org/issues/iraq/responding_to_the_crisis_in_iraq_without_bombs/

Bush Tax Cuts, a Decade Later: How They Helped Break the Economy

It seems hard to believe but, just a decade ago, the deficit didn’t exist and there were surpluses as far as the eye could see. The United States was on track to eliminate the national debt altogether by 2010, making the country debt free for the first time in nearly two centuries.

From Alternet. By Steve Benen | Sourced from Washington Monthly

It seems hard to believe but, just a decade ago, the deficit didn’t exist and there were surpluses as far as the eye could see. The United States was on track to eliminate the national debt altogether by 2010, making the country debt free for the first time in nearly two centuries.

Then 2001 happened. In fact, a year ago this week, George W. Bush’s tax policy became law, and to honor the occasion, Slate’s Annie Lowrey tried to “find something redeeming” to say about them. Alas ,she came up empty, concluding that they’ve “been a failure in every conceivable way.”

Ten years ago this week, the policy’s conservative champions made bold predictions about what the tax cuts would do — massive job growth, vast new wealth, higher incomes, smaller government, and balanced budgets. None of these predictions proved to be even remotely true.

The fine folks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities put togetherseveral worthwhile charts this week to mark the 10th anniversary of this tragic mistake, but this one’s my favorite.

But the spectacular failure of the policy is really only part of the story. Indeed, to a certain extent, looking back at recent history only helps provide a salient foundation for the more important problem: the fact that we haven’t learned anything from the mistake.

Well, perhaps “we” is the wrong word. Some of us have learned quite a bit. But in the Republican Party, we have lawmakers who continue to insist that their votes in support of this monstrosity were fully justified. They won’t apologize, they have no regrets, and they’d rather cause a deliberate recession than any allow a single penny of tax increases to be imposed on anyone.

And on the presidential campaign trail, it’s arguably even worse. Tim Pawlenty is pushing a tax-cut plan that’s triple the size of Bush’s tax-cut package, convinced that it will — you guessed it — generate massive job growth, vast new wealth, higher incomes, smaller government, and balanced budgets.

Worse, in the process, Pawlenty is setting a bar and challenging his presidential rivals to follow him. He wants $11.6 trillion in tax cuts — will other candidates match that? Surpass it? The race is on to see which Republican presidential candidate can be the most ridiculously irresponsible, and the competition will no doubt be fierce.

We are, in other words, talking about a party that tried an ambitious and radical experiment, saw it fail, and decided what’s needed now is significantly more failure.

 I mind that Republicans got this wrong and we’ll be dealing with the consequences for many years to come, but I really mind that Republicans think they were right. As Ezra noted the other day, the party not only “hasn’t learned anything from the failure of the Bush tax cuts,” it’s actually managed to “unlearn some things, too.”

Emphasis Mine.

see:http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/612959/bush_tax_cuts%2C_a_decade_later%3A_how_they_helped_break_the_economy/#paragraph2