Another war, with yet another Middle Eastern adversary, this time Iran, seems closer than ever. Iran’s response to the killing of their hybrid-war-terrorism mastermind, Qasam Soleimani, seems a calculated saving of face, but the bloodshed is unlikely to end there.

The killing was justified, in a strict sense: Soleimani was no hide-out with only a wank to while the time. He was a participant in a battle, as he’s been in God-knows how many others. He’s implicated in the killing of hundreds of American troops. He has been the greatest single obstacle to our attempts to foster stability in the the Middle East.

But our troops were exposed to Soleimani’s attacks because they were in Iraq. We had to send in more to protect them, and now more are in greater danger to Iran’s response…and on and on. Which should beg the question: “what strategic principle of national security justifies the danger we put our troops in, that makes another war to protect them possible, because we had to protect them from the man we lost them to before?”

Why are our troops there?

Terrorism, the tool of Soleimani, was seen as a virus that incubates in a failed state. We tried to eradicate the virus by building a Western, Liberal version of the state, in order to make Iraq strong. So, we tried to bootstrap that, using the model we successfully applied to wartime Germany and Japan. Not that Iraq had anything to do with terrorism (when we invaded). Neither were they a failed state, before (libertarians say: “harming someone for their own good, what could go wrong?”).

The Democracy we tried to bootstrap now votes for our removal. Our troops were in danger from Soleimani because the Iraqi national army, cornerstone of the strong Iraqi state, allowed a baying mob of Hezbollah Jihadis to assault our embassy (for days). We are besieged by our own mentees. The Iraqi army, which we spent so much time and money training, disintegrated before Heizbollah, just as they disintegrated before ISIS (we might also call that “voting”).

Indeed, much of the weakening of the Iraqi state happened when paramilitary militias were needed to prosecute the war on ISIS because of the fragility of the Iraqi state’s army. Soleimani was the conductor of that orchestra. Ironically, the same solution to their weakness was implemented by David Petreaus, but with “sons of Iraq” branding. Another lesson from libertarians: “it is foolish to build a strong state when that state is predatory to its people” (and they all are, if strong enough).

An official of the Iraqi state, which we burned the region to raise, was killed fighting alongside Soleimani. The President responds to Iraq’s asking us to leave by proposing weakening their weak state with sanctions. But Is it unreasonable for Iraqis to want the USA to leave? Have they not been done-down endlessly by colonizers and outsiders’ notions of what is best for them? Iraqis should conclude accommodation with Iran is reasonable. We should conclude the same: I can recall no Jihadis schooled by Iran trying to blow up my city. Why, just the other week, a Saudi serviceman (another mentee of ours) ran amok with common fervor.

If I were an Iraqi, and I looked at the wreckage left in Syria, I would conclude detente with Iran was the best of bad options. The alternative would be America and Iran using my country as a proxy battleground. As Alawite/Shia/Sunni/Saudi Arabia/Gulf Arabs/America/France/The U.K./Iran/Russia/Kurd/Turkey used Syria.

How would you like it if Iraq and Iran used your city to fight in?

So: we might have to fight Iran, for Iraq’s own good, because our previous fighting weakened them so much to expose them to Iran’s influence, because we fought to strengthen them. The President wants to weaken weak Iraq with sanctions, for exercising the democracy we destabilized everyone else in the region to create, because they asked we not use their nation to fight in. This, after nigh two decades of borrowing money from China to strengthen Iraq.

The Iraqis voted for us to leave before, and we left. I don’t recall our national security comprised by one whit. Let’s listen to them again. This time for good.

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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