Murtaza Hussein makes the salient point that the US is still seeing military deaths over the Iraq War and its consequences. George W. Bush, and those who brought us that war, over utterly false pretenses, are responsible for all the deaths it has caused, on both sides of the battle line. They (and the US State) are also responsible for the havoc the Iraq War caused in the region, which is now in a state of dysfunction and turmoil as a direct result of the US intervention.
Last week, the Pentagon announced the death of the first American serviceman in the war against ISIS. Marine Lance Cpl. Sean Neal was killed in what was described as a “non-combat incident” in Iraq, making him the first American to die in “Operation Inherent Resolve” – America’s latest military excursion into that country.
Cpl. Neal was only 19 years old. He would have only been eight at the outset of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and merely six on 9/11 – a child at the time of both these events. The fact that he ended up losing his life in Iraq is on one hand tragic, and on the other completely absurd.
The tragedy here is that a young man with a long future ahead of him ended up dying in a distant country before even reaching the age of twenty. The absurdity is that men such as him are still losing their lives as a result of still-inexplicable decisions made over a decade ago. …
In this context it is stunning to remember the statements of those who assured us over a decade ago that the war in Iraq would take “weeks rather than months” to bring to its completion. The more cautious and conservative among them gave us an absolute maximum estimate of “five months” before we could go back to normalcy, and start watching America-friendly democracies begin to bloom across the Middle East. If this prediction had been in any way honest or correct, Cpl. Sean Neal may have been sitting in a college classroom today rather than lying in a flag-draped coffin on a military flight back home.
In brief, the US destabilized and dismantled a formerly stable and strong state, Iraq; caused conditions that created widespread ethnic cleansing and inflamed sectarian tensions; and left behind a dysfunctional (Iraqi) state incapable of policing itself internally or defending its borders, as well as a regional power vacuum.
Now ISIS has emerged. It is a largely opportunistic coalition of international fanatics alongside regional players with local concerns (such as Sunnis experiencing discrimination by the Maliki government).
With fanaticism, funding from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, and battle experience emanatin from the Syrian conflict as well as the former Baathist army (stupidly disbanded by Paul Bremer during the US occupation), ISIS (a.k.a. IS, ISIL) has been an effective fighting force, deploying and attacking with unexpected alacrity and ferocity, and–here’s the clincher–often using captured American military equipment in its attacks. The US apparently shipped a ton of equipment to Iraq, compliments of US taxpayers, and left it in depots guarded by the dysfunctional, corrupt, poorly trained, unmotivated, and underpaid Iraqi military. So ISIS is now fighting Kurdish militias using top-notch US military equipment. The US vehicles, like armored humvees, have been put to especially effective use by ISIS, which uses them to rush through the front lines of their opposition and then attack from the rear.
The war-without-end scenario is now openly discussed in Washington as the norm for US foreign policy. Hussein points out that
One thing is certain … : [Marine Lance Cpl.] Neal won’t be the last [US citizen to die in Iraq]. Current and former American military officials are already preparing the public for a new conflict in Iraq – with scarcely suppressed and genuinely creepy elation – that they say will be “generational” and will take decades to bring to its completion.
Though his analysis is not keen, Christopher Hitchens appears to have been far more on the mark with this prediction: