“True security will only be achieved if we use all our resources – aid, diplomacy, our military prowess – to help bring about a more stable world. If we do not act to stem the onslaught of this exceptionally dangerous terrorist movement, it will only grow stronger until it can target us on the streets of Britain.” – David Cameron on the group Islamic State
So soon? My it’s only been a few years since we last f*cked things up in Iraq. We’re like an addict when it comes to this country, just one more hit and everything will be fine we tell ourselves. But the question is how did we get here in the first place and why can we not give it up?
It’s long been a country that has been at war with its neighbours, itself (in terms of military coups) and those from further afield including the UK. While it’s a complicated story, the simple version is that after the Ottoman empire we came along in 1920 and did our usual thing of telling Johnny Foreigner how to do things. We put the three areas of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra together to make a country called Iraq. Since that time we’ve meddled in their country through invasions over oil – as early as the 1940s – and they have meddled in others such as Israel, Iran and Kuwait. The whole area is quite incestuous anyway and there have long been conflicts with neighbours ganging up on each other only to find themselves on opposite side a few years later.
In recent years the Gulf War, the Iraq war and now the IS invasion have been the headline grabbers and only the last has not involved us – until now. Barack Obama has already made perfectly clear he will not put American soldiers back into Iraq because he knows it would be both hugely unpopular and possibly counter productive to the country. Now Camoron has waded in to the issue with size stupid feet and an eye on a war to be the great liberators. It’s as if the last twenty-five years had never happened. Here’s a brief reminder of what we have done:
Gulf War- gone in, blown shit up, ruined country, left
Iraq War – gone in, blown shit up, removed dictator, hung about a while until the locals told us to piss off with the rebuilding job half done, left
We’ve never actually helped to build a meaningful and lasting peace in the country. There are so many groups inside the country that have their own needs and opinions that the internal fighting has made it easy for the group formerly known as ISIS to come in a tear the country apart again. It’s no use the West shouting that it’s a disgrace, because it is our fault – directly from the botched job at the end of the Iraq war – that the country is so unstable that this could happen. And the solution? Blow some shit up and drop food packages.
Innocents hide in the mountains waiting to be rescued, not knowing that is not on the US or UK agenda. Christians are being beheaded if they don’t convert to Islam even though the IS vision of the religion is a mutated and bastardised incarnation of the words of the Qur’an. And this is not just in Iraq, across Syria and into other countries this group are moving to sort out the Middle East Problem themselves having learnt lots of bad habits from watching us in action.
So what do we do? Some Iraqis want us there to help, others do not want us near as we have caused the damage that caused this in the first place. They need food, water and medical supplies but getting them to those who need them is becoming more difficult. Mind you the west is supplying something: Weapons. Sending all types of killing methods doesn’t seem to be an issue for us and the USA. During the recent ceasefire in Gaza the US was happily ensuring their ally got more weapons – less a ceasefire and more a truck stop to top up on fuel and grade A weaponry.
We can shake our heads and make statements about the “Middle East” as much as we like, but for the last hundred years each time we have got involved we have gradually made things worse. You can’t tell someone off and then hand their opponent a weapon and expect fair play. Perhaps we just need to let the cards fall this time; let the region find its own shape and future rather than having outside templates forced on it. But how long can we endure the sight of innocent men, women and children on our TV screens.
There are no winners now – we stacked the game against it leaving the only result possible a loss.