ISIS Atrocities in Iraq Represent the Catastrophic Failure of Bush Doctrine and Neoconservative Foreign Policy

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by H.A. Goodman,

from The Huffington Post,

Soon after 9/11, the Bush administration led the country with confidence and bravado, calling out an Axis of Evil and offering a bold new plan to remake the map of the Middle East. Unfortunately, bringing democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq proved more difficult than Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Bush had promised Americans when selling both wars. While Dick Cheney still holds the senile view that Obama is to blame for Iraq’s current demise, the reality is that William Kristol, Robert Kagan, and all the other necons who wrote essays like Bombing Iraq Isn’t Enough in The New York Times (as early as 1988) failed to accurately predict the future. The Bush Doctrine policy of “preventive war” not only failed to prevent future conflicts in Iraq and the Middle East, but also created a power vacuum that emboldened renegade and genocidal groups like ISIS.

Sadly, President Bush’s September 20, 2001 Address to a Joint Session of Congress now seems like a hopefully naïve, almost innocent fantasy compared to the nightmare erupting today in Iraq. Bush’s words that day should be the soundtrack for today’s televised chaos:

… …Our nation, this generation, will lift the dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail. …

Today, after two decade-long counterinsurgency wars have resulted in tremendous sacrifice by the U.S. Armed Forces and fledgling governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush’s words in 2001 could not have been less prescient. God did not grant us wisdom and we indeed faltered and perhaps even failed in the overall mission of nation building abroad. We know now that we can’t destroy every terrorist group in the world and the atrocities committed by ISIS show that even the most powerful nation can’t predict the future; especially in regards to what could happen when it left Iraq.

After 4,804 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq and 2,340 U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan, one million U.S. soldiers wounded in both wars, and a potential cost of up to $6 trillion, the last thing Americans need to see is video of fanatics executing civilians in Iraq. Alas, our optimism in 2001 is now met with the cold realism of failed expectations and a terrorist group on the march; conquering city after city while murdering inhabitants of territory we had previously liberated from Saddam Hussein. According to ABC News on July 8, 2014, the United States is still very much involved militarily in Iraq and ethnic groups like the Yazidis still face threat of annihilation, this time from ISIS instead of Saddam Hussein.

Looking into the crystal ball only weeks after 9/11, President Bush envisioned a Middle East where democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq would propel other nations to aspire to our political value system. In 2014, a sad testament to the futility of neoconservative wishful thinking illustrates that we still have to continue military engagements in Iraq because a terrorist group (not named Al-Qaeda) is conquering territory. The tremendous cost imposed upon this country by hopeful neoconservatives and a naïve President Bush “leading from in front” was said to be the removal of a dictator in favor of self determination; not the collapse of Iraq.

Today’s madness in Iraq started with good intentions over a decade ago, but we all know the saying about roads paved with good intentions.

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