familiar targets

The chilling irony of the first US strikes on Iraq

August 8, 2014
August 8, 2014

And it’s not (just) that the bombers took off from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, named after the first American president to go to war in Iraq. No, we’re talking about the targets:

To put it bluntly: It appears that the US is destroying artillery the US paid for, after it was abandoned to its enemies by troops the US paid to train. Under Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi army had significant heavy weaponry, but much of it was destroyed or decommissioned in the 2003 US invasion. Efforts to provide American-made mobile artillery was seen as a key step toward making the new Iraqi military an independent force. In the past few weeks, millions of dollars of US weapons have fallen into ISIL’s hands.

Backing up a step, the US is bombing ISIL, an Islamist militia that has taken over significant territory in Syria and Iraq, and now threatens the Kurdish capital of Erbil and numerous ethnic minorities.

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While the US has technically withdrawn from Iraq, the government the has failed to maintain political unity, and the US-trained army is falling apart, leaving numerous Iraqis—and indeed, the fragile balance of Middle Eastern geopolitics—incredibly vulnerable. Despite reluctance to return to Iraq, President Barack Obama last night authorized air strikes to aid the Iraqi government and Kurdish militias known as peshmerga in their fight against the extremists.

That the first blows by American arms were struck against American arms is just one indication of complex and difficult the task is going to be.

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