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We Should Stop Talking About Liberating Mosul


August 17, 2015
Jack Werner / Antiwar.com

Opinion: War hawks in and out of office continue to insist that the city of Mosul -- captured by local forces representing the Islamic State -- can be "retaken." These neocon critics fail to acknowledge that, over the past 100 years -- America has consistently failed at nation-building.Also forgotten: In June 2014, 350,000 Iraqi soldiers and 650,000 police, trained and funded by $41.6 billion of US taxpayer dollars, abandoned their posts and let Mosul fall to a paltry 6,000 opposing IS fighters.

http://antiwar.com/blog/2015/08/16/we-should-stop-talking-about-liberating-mosul/

We Should Stop Talking About Liberating Mosul
Jack Werner / Antiwar.com

(August 16, 2015) -- In a recent piece [1] on Foreign Policy, titled, "No One Talks About Liberating Mosul Anymore," Michael Knights wrote about the necessity of training better Iraqi forces and unleashing US airpower in Iraq to fight the so-called Islamic State (IS).

"It's time to let the US military get creative with partners on the ground -- and let pilots above open a can of whoop-ass on the Islamic State," reads the epigraph of the piece.

Knights couldn't be more wrong about a prescription for the situation. He's doing what neoconservatives usually do in situations like this -- ignore history itself.

This kind of bravado associated with caricatures of the American military has no foresight about the consequences of increasing military action. Let's say we follow through on Knight's proposal and bomb Mosul back to the Stone Age -- then what? Reoccupy the country? And then what?

Knight would most likely respond that he favors drastically increasing the Iraqi Train and Equip Fund from its purportedly meager sum of $1.6 billion in 2015 to its previous levels during the 2005-2008 surge. But how successful was that strategy that he proposes for our Commander-in-Chief?

A recent look at the historical record confirms its partiality. Patrick Cockburn [2], writing in the London Review of Books, reports that in June 2014, 350,000 soldiers and 650,000 police, trained and funded by $41.6 billion of US taxpayer dollars, abandoned their posts and let Mosul fall to a paltry 6,000 opposing IS fighters.

So, if the train-Iraqis-to-defend-themselves scheme is vacuous, then what? Why, I'd say, we're back to the old neoconservative vision of nation building. And that's exactly what the familiar voices [3] of the Right, like Robert Kagan or Paul Wolfowitz, have been openly calling for [4] since IS first came into the picture last year -- bolstering up American hard power, reintroducing US troops, and funneling billions to fight what might now be called, America's new unwinnable war.

It's terrifying that history seems to be an inane throbbing sensation for these war hawks. They can't realize that America has consistently failed to nation build over the last century. They regrettably cite the Marshall Plan without examining the vital differences between then and now -- namely invading a nation unprovoked, as US forces once did in Vietnam, and did again in 2003.

Our first real experiment in nation building was, according to Jeremi Suri, Reconstruction [5] -- yes, the aftermath of Civil War, when the US tried to mend a nation torn by white supremacy. We failed (and here I express disagreement with Suri). The unresolved problems of the Civil War allowed for over a century of lynch mobbing, brutal racial violence, and intimidation against black Americans.

Nation building should not be something that we celebrate. But it is in our DNA as Americans.

The depressing and odd part about all of this is that war hawks like Kagan do in fact read and review [6] these things. Their smug recognition and tacit approval for war, however, construct dreams of the future that are divorced from the past. In effect, they rewrite history for their present needs.

We shouldn't keep haplessly training Iraqi forces in Iraq -- the strategy did not win the war on the terror in 2008, and it won't now. If anything, the so-called "moderate rebels" [7] of Syria have been defecting to IS after receiving cash, weapons and training from -- you guessed it -- the United States.

It's time to own up to history. Recognize the blowbacks of occupation for what they are: the greater problems of empire and the failure to learn as policymakers.

Jack Werner has been published by Foreign Policy In Focus, Informed Comment, Antiwar.com, the Lion's Eye, the Signal, and State of Nature. He hosts a webzine at worldatlargemag.wordpress.com [8].

Footnotes

[1] piece: https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/08/11/no-one-talks-about-liberating-mosul-anymore-iraq-islamic-state-military-pentagon/

[2] Patrick Cockburn: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n14/patrick-cockburn/battle-for-baghdad

[3] voices: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co5ikJZNrlw

[4] calling for: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/16/us/politics/historians-critique-of-obama-foreign-policy-is-brought-alive-by-events-in-iraq.html?_r=0

[5] Reconstruction: http://jeremisuri.net/writing/books

[6] review: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/books/review/libertys-surest-guardian-by-jeremi-suri-book-review.html

[7] "moderate rebels": http://www.globalresearch.ca/3000-moderate-rebels-defect-to-the-islamic-state-isis-us-preparing-5000-more/5425344

[8] worldatlargemag.wordpress.com: http://worldatlargemag.wordpress.com



Iraqi Commanders Face Trial
Over Loss of Ramadi

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(August 16, 2015) -- While Iraqi officials continue to downplay the difficulty of turning the tables on ISIS, which has captured much of the country's western border with Syria, the government's primary efforts seem to be in passing around blame for the major defeats of the war so far.

Iraqi PM Hayder Abadi has been loudly critical of the military for the loss of the Anbar capital of Ramadi, saying the troops fled despite orders to stay and defeat ISIS. Today he has ordered the commanders court martialed for abandoning their defensive positions and losing the city.

They're not along in facing blame, however, as the Iraqi parliament has issued a report blaming a number of former government officials, including former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, for the loss of Mosul, the largest city to fall to ISIS.

In both cases, the underlying assumption is that the battles could have been won if the troops had simply followed the orders to win those battles, and Maliki is facing blame for installing commanders who weren't willing to win the battle of Mosul.

Though it was a surprise how quickly the military's lines broke in Mosul, the loss of Ramadi shouldn't have been nearly so surprising, as the poor morale among Iraqi forces was already well documented, and it was clear they simply weren't going to stand up to a sustained ISIS offensive.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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