Back into Iraq, Again

As the U.S. military returns to Iraq, Official Washington won’t tolerate a serious examination of the back story of the crisis, which began with the U.S. invasion of Iraq and continued with covert support of Sunni rebels seeking to overthrow Syria’s government, now returning to Iraq. Instead, its more hype and deception, says Danny Schechter.

By Danny Schechter

Welcome back to Iraq complete with our ever-present WMD’s Weapons of Mass deception. Suddenly, the country we never wanted to have to think about again is back in the news and on our military agenda. So, after a few denials that troops would not, never, and no way be sent, sure’nuff, U.S, boots are back on the ground, but to play a very different “mission.”

Of course, it’s not combat, assures Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who was wearing his tennis clothes when he met with GIs. That is, no doubt, why we are pounding that country with bombs again.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks to Marines stationed on Camp Pendleton, Calififornia, Aug. 12, 2014, after returning from a trip to Germany, India and Australia.  (DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks to Marines stationed on Camp Pendleton, Calififornia, Aug. 12, 2014, after returning from a trip to Germany, India and Australia. (DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt)

To signal that we are not back in the days of the war for Iraqi Freedom, the Pentagon announced its latest humanitarian effort with a tweet, that, in the media world we are now part of, maybe the equivalent of a whimper not a neocon bark. Once again, we are the good guys charging in to protect and defend, save and rescue.  You saw the alarmist stories.

This report was on RTE in Ireland: “Islamic State militants have killed hundreds of Iraq’s minority Yazidis.
They buried some alive and took women as slaves, as US warplanes again bombed the insurgents.” Human rights minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani accused the Sunni Muslim insurgents of celebrating what he called a “a vicious atrocity.”

But, then, predictably, there was this coda that put the story in question: “No independent confirmation was available of an event that could increase pressure on Western powers to do more to help.” It sounded like the story a few weeks back that had ISIS vowing to impose female genital mutilation on every woman they met. Happily, it was later repudiated.

This is not to say that ISIS is not brutal says Edmund Ghareeb of the Center for Global Peace at American University:

“Where have people been? Certainly some of the recent reporting of the carnage by IS is sensationalized, but their brutality is all too real. But critically, it’s been happening for years in both Iraq and in Syria, where is should have been confronted. In Syria, ancient Christian churches were destroyed, nuns and bishops were kidnapped and priests were killed. In Syria and Iraq, many belonging to different religions, sects and nationalities were killed or forced to flee at the hands of extremists and criminals. This was widely ignored in large part because many in the region and in the west were so focused on attacking the Assad government.

“As for U.S. intervention, the danger is that it may further hurt the Iraqi people and fragment Iraq altogether in the name of this humanitarian intervention.”

Now, we have U.S. troops flying into the mountain that we were told was packed to overflowing with 40,000 desperate refugees facing starvation. What happened when their savors finally arrived? Here’s USA Today:

“WASHINGTON, A review by U.S. special operations troops of conditions on Iraq’s Mount Sinjar on Wednesday has determined that the conditions of a religious minority seeking refuge there are better than believed and may not require a U.S.-led evacuation, the Pentagon said

“Based on this assessment the interagency has determined that an evacuation mission is far less likely. Additionally, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance as needed and will protect U.S. personnel and facilities.”

Comments Jason Ditz on “The Pentagon is trying to manage the narrative by simply saying the rescue mission ‘appears unnecessary,’ but the fact that it was used to start a US war remains, and the State Department is doubling down, trying to spin the lack of a crisis as vindication of the war.”

Of course, protecting Americans was the first reason cited for this intervention. So noted the political scientist Michael Brenner, without first noting that the City of Irbil is a major center for U.S. Oil companies and their employees:

“The first thing to say is that we should not confuse purpose with justification. Thursday night, Obama explicitly stated that protection of Americans in Irbil (and implicitly Kurdistan) was the reason for acting against advancing IS forces.

This is not entirely convincing; evacuation could be a logical alternative. Obviously, there are other aims, inter alia in the immediate, securing access to the air and support facilities we have established at the airport that are crucial to any future operations — including supplying the Peshmerga, e.g. keeping open your military options; to shore up Kurdish morale; to send a message to IS and its allies that any future campaigns in that direction that they contemplate would not be a cakewalk. The President said none of this due to his anxieties about making about making implicit commitments that he is not sure that he could meet.”

What they are doing, says Brenner, is dipping into an old playbook  “trying to lay the groundwork for revival of the Sawah Awakening movement among Sunni tribes that had suppressed al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia in 2006-2008.” That effort was based on a vicious counter-insurgency campaign with plenty of pay-offs to our robed “allies.”

Clearly, in the aftermath of the ISIS victories, this maneuver decisively failed. No matter, for Obama, it was soon back to the golf course on Martha’s Vineyard, the Kennedy and then Clinton vacation playground he has made his own. Maybe he feels like he can relax because the British and French are shipping in weapons to the U.S.-trained, Kurdish pesh merga fighters, whether they need them or not. After all, the British and French, too, have to promote their “humanitarian” cred.

What’s missing from the media narratives that focus on these forever changing daily incidents, is the deeper reality, that U.S. intervention has not saved Iraq but destroyed it, with more than a million dead, unrepresentative and unaccountable governments and enough war crimes to keep international courts busy for decades.

To understand the depths of the destruction and Iraqi despair, you need the perspective of long time Iraq watchers like The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn whose new book is titled, “The end of a country, and the start of a new dark age.”

He writes, “Iraq has disintegrated. Little is exchanged between its three great communities Shia, Sunni and Kurd except gunfire. The outside world hopes that a more inclusive government will change this but it is probably too late.

“The main victor in the new war in Iraq is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) which wants to kill Shia rather than negotiate with them. Iraq is facing a civil war that could be as bloody as anything that we have seen in Syria and could go on for years.”

Who is ultimately responsible for this? We can blame Saddam Hussein, but he’s long gone, or Osama bin Laden who is swimming with the fishes. More likely, as is most often the case, blame the victims for the crimes, but accepting responsibility is not something that Washington is ever willing or able to do. It seems like we would rather keep arming the “rebels” in Syria, the Israeli army or the Ferguson Mo. Police.

Perhaps that’s why all we hear on TV news shows is a chorus for more killing, to save “civilization” from “those People,” the heathens, of course. Never mind that Iraq was the original home of civilization. It is summer time and the living is easy. Besides, we have dead celebrities to mourn in these dog days of August.

News Dissector Danny Schechter made the film WMD about deceptive media in Iraq and wrote When News Lies about U.S. media war coverage. (Select Books, 2006.) He blogs at and edits the media issues site, Comments to [email protected]



12 comments for “Back into Iraq, Again

  1. nmb
    August 18, 2014 at 13:36

    How the ISIS saved Obama for the moment

  2. Abe
    August 16, 2014 at 15:10

    “The United States does not want a strong, independent Iraq. The US wants oil. The US wants power. The US wants Arabs killing Arabs. The US wants to extinguish Arab identity, culture, pride, literature, science, poetry, etc; anything that could lead to a reemergence of Arab nationalism, anything that could lead to an independent, sovereign state, anything that could impede the looting of Arab countries.

    “This is just the way that empire’s work.”

    Why Obama Wants Maliki Removed
    by Mike Whitney

    • F. G. Sanford
      August 16, 2014 at 16:23

      Spot on – this article tells the whole story. All they want is another regime change to get the status of forces agreement, then we’ll be right back in Iraq like ‘stink on shit’.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 16, 2014 at 21:28

      Abe your post made this lyric come to mind. Good post.

      “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
      I can see all obstacles in my way
      Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind”

  3. Yaj
    August 16, 2014 at 09:02

    Fernando Rogovine:

    None of this is really news to a regular reader of this website.

    A thousand US troops won’t stop the fall of Baghdad, if ISIS still gets funds from the US, Turkey, the Saudis, etc.

    So cut off those funds and Syria and Iran will stop the madness in northern Iraq, and Baghdad remains the capital.

    Of course this solution doesn’t do US “interests” much good.

  4. Fernando Rogovine
    August 15, 2014 at 15:43

    Official sources (Government and Armies) have released images and footages from “humanitarian help” being delivered in north Iraq to this “new” Yazidi people, and the World Press has massively reproduced since last weeek, without any criticism…

    Now, everybody seems to be engaged on this new humanitarian campaign, let´s save the Yazidis from the barbarian muslim fighters !

    Behind the lines, this message: Americans, the elected people, are called back to Iraq to save those barbarians and wild countries, unable to live in peace without starting over and over tribal, ethnic or religious self-destructive wars…

    Americans, the good-guys from the movies, are being called into Iraq to save and protect, against their peace interests and despite bearing high costs, acting in sacrifice….

    But, the only thing that will never be mentioned, anywhere: the US army are going back to Iraq to save Bagdad, to avoid the eminent fall of the american proxy government implemented in Bagdad, unable to hold together the country, and live the shame of loosing the country during this adminstration, to a political guerrilla (and not tribal or islamic), fighting to overthrow the puppet government government…

    And, of course, it also will never be mentioned that all those bad guys, tribal and religious extremists, were armed by the own american army. The guns that iraqi fighters are shaking in the air were paid by the american tax-payer.

  5. Joe Tedesky
    August 15, 2014 at 15:12

    How does that go; fool me once, fool me aaa…..oh just go ask George W., he knows the saying. I too am sitting here, all the while wondering what is the right thing to do in Iraq. Only, given our country’s leaders past lies of deception, I fail to rally behind their warring efforts. Does this make me a bad American? I once wore a uniform, and swore to protect and serve our nations interest. So what changed me? Well, maybe being lied to enough on several occasions could have done it for me. Poor me!

    Maybe we should all start with demanding the truth about the JFK, MLK, and the RFK assassinations would be a good starting place. I truly believe that ever since the American public was forced to settle on the official narratives of those terrible crimes, we were all duped to believe anything. As the saying goes; then they got away with murder.

    • Yaj
      August 15, 2014 at 16:21

      What to do in Iraq?

      Cut of funds, and arms, to “rebels” in Syria, that’s a place to start?

      Callously: If the US stayed out of the way,I’m sure Iran and Syria (with Russian help) could work out some of this mess–even if Turkey + Israel didn’t exactly like the results. Yeah, that means Assad would stay in power.

      It’s not really that difficult.

      • Joe Tedesky
        August 15, 2014 at 16:52

        I’m okay with that…thanks Yaj!

      • Yaj
        August 15, 2014 at 19:06

        Joe T.

        Didn’t imagine you’d disagree.

        But just think of what John McCain and Lindsey Graham would say. (Not like I think they’re real deep thinkers about US policy–foreign or domestic.)

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 15, 2014 at 23:39

      what I would do with Iraq; I’m a softie, I would send them humanitarian aid.

      Without a doubt I would stop funding all NGO aid as same with CIA, Saudi, Israeli, etc aid….no more Benghazi stuff. No more photo ops for John McCain.

      Iran, Syria, and Russia ….see oil interest. Myself I think I could live with this. In the end it is all about business. Isn’t it? Reference years of fighting in Vietnam and today doing business with that quagmire of a country.

      As far as McCain and Graham goes I would tell them to read George Washington’s farewell address. Only, neocons deep down believe those old founders were just not living in the right century… You know the peace loving Neocon century.

      “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connexion as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.” – 1796 President George Washington’s Farewell Speech #36

  6. F. G. Sanford
    August 15, 2014 at 14:34

    I hate to admit it, but I was really relieved to read this article. For a while there, I was really angry with myself. How could I be so heartless and unsympathetic? But, there it was. Confronted with the opportunity to feel pride in my government’s humanitarian good will, my imagination got the best of me. The Yazidi People…The Yazidi People…must…save…….the…the Yazidi…People…..I was carried away into a dreamland only Edgar Rice Burroughs cold imagine, where the proud and noble Yazidi People followed the teachings of the revered mountain spirit who revealed himself in bodily form to the high priestess every year. High on the slopes of Mount Marawatan in a sacred cave, she would fast for weeks before the ceremony to purify herself before the Yazidi People made their annual pilgrimage. Only this could guarantee the crops would not fail and the proud Yazidi People could continue their millennial struggle to….Yep, a pure, unadulterated Hollywood bullshit story is what the whole thing sounded like to me. I was ashamed at my own cynicsm. There was My President, doing humanitarian good works in my name, and all I could think of was, “This sounds like pure bullshit”. Thanks, Mr. Schechter, you’ve restored my faith in my own common sense.

Comments are closed.