On Iraq: Think like Romans and admit we were beaten

One of the most disturbing aspects of contemporary America is its absolute determination to deceive itself. As the last U.S. soldiers and Marines leave Iraq, we have heard President Obama, Senator McCain, Defense Secretary Panetta, and numerous others speak as if U.S. forces accomplished something positive in Iraq. Indeed, our service personnel have been welcomed home as “liberators” and told — ominously — that there are other peoples in the world who yearn for the sort of liberation the United States brought to Iraqis.

What to make of this species of lunacy? In recent years it has been popular to compare the United States to the ancient Romans, at least in terms of military power and the geographic reach that military power can attain. This sort of historical nuttiness sells well in the media, the academy, and the mouths of war-mongering politicians like Senators McCain, Graham, and Lieberman, but it will not stand scrutiny.

The Romans were a superb military power that brought peace and prosperity to much of Europe for 500 years or more, and they brought it mostly by waging wars that literally annihilated their enemies. The precursors to the Roman peace were complete military victories that left Rome‘s enemies with no doubt that they had been totally defeated, and believing the beginning of wisdom was to become Rome‘s friend, or at least not cross Rome a second time. Reality was the pivotal component here. Rome’s enemies always knew they were defeated, one historian has written, and the Romans were always realistic and manly enough to know when they had won and — as important — when they had loss.

The evolving aftermath of the Iraq war in the American mind proves that, at least among our bipartisan governing elite, there is not a single Roman to be found. In Iraq, the United States was defeated in every conceivable way. Not one of Washington’s clearly delineated war aims was accomplished. The Sunni-based tyranny of Saddam Hussein has been replaced by a Shia-dominated tyranny whose leader’s contempt for the United States is so strong that he did not bother to wait until the last U.S. soldier departed before starting what will be a relentless persecution of Iraq’s Sunni minority. For Obama and McCain, this sort of tyranny is acceptable because Maliki and his Shia thugs won office in a fair but meaningless election. For Obama, McCain and their ilk the important thing is just having an election, the fact that an election simply delivers a replacement tyranny is irrelevant.

So, at the cost of a trillion dollars, regional instability, 4,600 dead soldiers and Marines, and 30,000-plus wounded, the Bush and Obama administrations succeeded in scoring a victory in Iraq by “liberating” it from stability, order, and Saddam-conducted brutality and delivering it to a Shia tyranny which appears ready to push as quickly as possible for a sectarian civil war in which the Iraqi Shias — with Iran’s help — will try to annihilate the country’s Sunni minority, and probably the even smaller Christian one while they are at it. Some victory.

While all of this will quickly become water-under-the-bridge as the Republicans and Democrats and their media acolytes move on to furthering America’s economic collapse, it is very important that ordinary Americans and their military leaders accept the reality that the U.S. military was — at least in the Muslim world’s perception — defeated in Iraq. General Petraeus and his successors brought enough stability to Iraq to allow U.S. forces to exit by allowing; the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad in favor of the Shia; the herding of Sunnis into Jordan; and by taking advantage of the hatred al-Qaeda’s Abu Musab al-Zarqawi engendered among Iraqi Sunnis to deal al-Qaeda a telling tactical defeat from which it is now well on the way to recovery. As the Sunni-Shia civil war develops in Iraq, we will see that al-Qaeda has returned as a potent part of the Sunni forces that are even now organizing to fight for survival against the U.S.-made, Iran-supported Shia tyranny in Baghdad. Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq also will emerge as a key source of material support and military guidance for the Islamist militant groups across the Levant that are preparing to exploit the improved access to weaponry, freed mujahideen prisoners, increasing Islamist political power, and less restrictive operational environments ushered in by the so-called Arab Spring.

As Dr. Paul often says, unnecessary U.S. intervention leads to war and more war, as well as to exorbitant and uncontrollable costs in terms of blood and treasure. That the decision to intervene in Iraq was disastrous is now clear, and that U.S. national security interests in the region are now more threatened than in the pre-2003 era is likewise clear. What now needs to be accepted is that, for the Muslim world, the U.S. military was defeated and driven out of Iraq by men armed with weapons that were state-of-the-art at the time of the Korean War.

It is possible and perhaps accurate to believe that U.S. forces were defeated in Iraq because (a) U.S. politicians refuse to win the wars they start; (b) the failed U.S. educational system has stopped teaching children that wars can settle matters if won, that the only mercy in war is fast and complete victory; and that wars can only be won by killing the enemy and his supporters until they quit; (c ) that the post-1945 development of Just War Theory causes the U.S. to lose wars and allows and applauds the killing of U.S. soldiers and Marines if enemy civilians are protected; and (d) that far too many U.S. general officers are lobotomized of their common-sense faculties by attending Harvard and Princeton.

But while each of these things may be true, for now it is best for all of us to act the part of Romans and manfully accept the reality that America was defeated in Iraq. If we do not elect Dr. Paul, we would be wise to prepare to irrefutably win the next war that will be caused by our bipartisan and interventionist democracy-mongers, a war that probably will occur either against Iran — at the behest of U.S.-citizen supporters of Israel — or in Africa where several genuine U.S. national interests are increasingly threatened by rising Islamist power.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and he helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.