Jon Stewart reprised a segment of “The Daily Show” last week — “Mess O’ Potamia” — the subject of which fans thought or at least hoped was long since shelved. It’s not and their hopes were always futile. For 4,000 years, Mesopotamia, corresponding to modern-day Iraq, Kuwait and parts of Syria, Turkey and Iran, was the prize for serial invasions by Persians, Greeks, Mongols, Arabs, Turks and Britons, in addition to the setting for 1,400 years of sectarian bloodshed between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. And yet in our vast geopolitical wisdom — i.e. national megalomania — we thought we could invade it, enforce regime change, resolve ancient animosities and establish a functioning democracy in the heart of a world lacking any democratic inclinations. Now, those same giants of acuity, who promised we’d find weapons of mass destruction, be greeted as liberators and be out in six months, have the audacity to point accusatory fingers at President Barack Obama because the jerry-rigged outcome resulting from their optional war has tanked under the corrupt, incompetent and polarizing prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, they handpicked.
Their facile argument that Obama didn’t push hard enough to secure a Status of Forces Agreement, protecting American troops from arbitrary reprisals at the hands of host governments, essential to an American military presence after 2011 just doesn’t hold water. Why are these guys always blindsided when the world doesn’t jump every time America snaps its fingers? Here’s what did happen. Once the Sunni opposition had been routed by American forces, Maliki came under intense pressure by ally Iran, Shia militias and the Grand Ayatollah who insisted no Americans remain in country, and he concurred. But let’s say we had left the 3,000 to 10,000 troops discussed in the SOFA drafts. Just what would they be able to accomplish in the face of an Iraqi government — essentially now an Iranian suzerainty — not only unwilling to share power with the third of the country that is Sunni but actively terrorizing it and a demoralized blundering Iraqi military that hightailed it at the first sign of serious fighting? We would be right back in 2007, immersed in their sectarian battles only with less manpower and fewer resources. Oh goody. Of course Republicans’ simplistic solution from Libya to Syria to Ukraine is bomb somebody! They’re not sure who, what or how, just do it. Unfortunately, this time Obama may be buying into that same slipshod thinking. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS is not al-Qaida. Its vision for a Sunni Islamic caliphate, contemptuous of artificial colonial-era borders, spread across eastern Syria and western Iraq is a near certainty but it doesn’t appear interested in threatening the U.S. Let’s not antagonize it by once again being suckered into an internecine war backing a hapless and despicable Iraqi regime when there’s not a damn thing we can do to change the outcome anyway. We need to get as far away as we can be from this “mess.” Marty Moore is a freelance writer living in Port Richey.