We fight in wars on all sides now

Glenn Greenwald writes that developments in Syria and Libya illustrate the same pattern that we saw in Iraq earlier, of how the US destabilizes countries on the blithe assertion that it can once and for all time militarily install a stable regime that will be friendly to it, only to end up creating fertile breeding grounds for violent groups like ISIS/ISIL I Syria and Iraqqand the militant groups dueling for power in Libya.

These groups are then portrayed as the next big terrorist threat to the US and the US ends up repeatedly switching sides in the messy conflicts of other nations, first arming one s de and then fighting the ones we armed. As Greenwald says:

Nobody disputes the brutality and extremism of ISIS, but that is a completely different question from whether the U.S. should take military action against it. To begin with, the U.S. not only ignores, but actively supports, all sorts of brutal and extreme parties in the region.

More important, what are air strikes going to accomplish? All one has to do is look at the horrific chaos and misery in Libya – the Successful Humanitarian Intervention™ – to know that bombing Bad People out of existence accomplishes little in the way of strategic or humanitarian value. If one really wants to advocate that the U.S. should destroy or at least seriously degrade ISIS, then one should honestly face what that actually entails.

If you like running around sermonizing on the need to destroy ISIS, at least be honest enough to acknowledge what that will really require and then advocate that. Anything short of that is just self-glorifying deceit: donning the costume of Churchillian Resolve and Moral Purpose without any substance.

We are in an age of perpetual war with no clear sides, supporting and arming one side and then the other. The only ones who benefit are the arms suppliers and those whose breeding ground is chaos and suffering.


  1. dean says

    To begin with, the U.S. not only ignores, but actively supports, all sorts of brutal and extreme parties in the region.

    I remember many an undergraduate discussion from the 1970s starting with statements identical in meaning, if not wording, to that one. (Also discussions in the early 80s, but I was in graduate school then so they weren’t undergrad discussions.) People older than I am could probably say similar things about times farther back.

    It should be carved on a monument somewhere, simply to hammer home the fact that things that really should change somehow never do.

  2. AsqJames says

    You know when an inexperienced driver gets into a sideways skid, over-corrects, and ends up skidding the other way…only to over-correct again and re-induce the original skid…et cetera ad nauseum?

    It seems kind of like that…only our drivers are trying to regain control of multiple cars at the same time…and they’re so pant-dampeningly terrified they’ve also stamped down on the accelerator pedal…and there’s a load of back seat drivers screaming unhelpful and contradictory advice/criticism right into their ear raising the emotional temperature and preventing any clear thought.

  3. Brian K Miller says

    You know, it goes beyond this. The United States covertly trains, arms, and supports many of the terrorist groups that cause so much misery. Do you think without covert help, the situation in Syria would be as bad as it is?

  4. raven says

    The best I can say, the USA doesn’t do this all the time.

    1. We were caught asleep in Egypt. Those multi-billion dollar DHS spy agencies were too busy reading my email to find out that Mubarak was on his way out.

    So we didn’t do much. The neocons screamed and wanted us to do something probably involving lots of weapons, especially after the Moslem Brotherhood was elected. Who lost Egypt and besides it’s all Obama’s fault.

    It is quiet there for now. But Egypt is a disaster waiting to happen and happen it will. This is probably one of the few cases of a Malthusian crisis. They have 80 plus million people, a rapidly growing population, and have run out of water.

  5. raven says

    Even if we beat back ISIS, so what?

    The conditions that let them run wild and massacre people are still there in Iraq especially.

    This is the religious divide between the Sunnis and Shiites. And that doesn’t look fixable. They need some sort of partition or sectarian power sharing arrangement. Neither of which seems to be happening.

  6. busterggi says

    “They have 80 plus million people, a rapidly growing population, and have run out of water.”


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