Somewhat lost in the fuss over Donald Trump petulantly canceling Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Iraq is what these trips reveal about the failure of US policy there. The trip for her and other Congressional members had been planned in great secrecy, just like Trump’s visit the previous month. This continues the practice of top US political leaders sneaking in and out of that country like thieves in the night, revealing their trip only after they are back home.
The US invaded that country in 2003 using outright lies as the basis for that action. Dick Cheney predicted that they would be greeted as liberators and one of the many war boosters Kenan Makiya said that people would throw sweets and flowers in the path of US troops in gratitude. But now almost 16 years later, American leaders think it is not safe to show their faces in public in that country. How can this not possibly be seen as a failure of the policy, given the enormous toll of death and suffering and destruction the invasion caused?
The president of Iran gleefully pointed this out.
Speaking during a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, President Rouhani referred to Trump’s unannounced visit to Iraq late last month — during which he merely stopped at a military base — and said the secrecy that characterized the trip was proof of America’s “defeat.”
“Since 2003, the Americans have been claiming that they have salvaged Iraq and Afghanistan; but if this claim is true, then why don’t you openly make an official trip to see how the Iraqis would welcome you on the streets of Baghdad and Basra?” Rouhani said.
“The fact that you enter a small military base secretly and under the cover of the night, take pictures with a few soldiers, speak briefly, and leave Iraq a couple of hours later indicates your defeat,” the Iranian president said.
Rouhani noted the secrecy also meant that “you have not been successful, that you know the people of Iraq are not happy with you, and that you don’t dare to be [publicly present] among them.”
Iraq, he suggested, was a feasible destination for Trump. “As for Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, you don’t even dare to travel there!” he said.
To rub it in, we see the president of Iran and his foreign minister publicly announcing their trips to Iraq well in advance and also the cities they will be visiting and the pubic events they will be participating in. They apparently stay in hotels, not on military bases.