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The Iraq Sequel

This Week in the Narrative 79

Nigel Clarke

When 9/11 happened I was a kid, or thereabouts. Old enough to know something terrible had happened and hope that the perpetrators were brought to justice. But also old enough to notice the inconsistencies of the puzzle pieces scattered before me.

The President is making up words, not to mention facts, his insecurity seeping out through his pores like a cold sweat. Vice is a Batman villain and an oil tycoon, eyes always on the profits of the Middle East. And why does the rest of the world seem to disagree with the administration’s conclusions?

I came to wonder years later, after the travesty of the Iraq war had morphed in public perception into a sort of dark comedy, how much easier it would have been for an older, more experienced version of myself to put the puzzle pieces together.

Lucky for me, I guess, neo-cons are extremely unoriginal.

For the past few months, President Trump has been putting together what has been called a ‘war cabinet.”

Where W. Bush’s cabinet was filled in the lead up to war with individuals who had a longstanding antagonism with Iraq, Trump is filling his cabinet with longtime antagonists of Iran.

This includes John Bolton, the current National Security Advisor. Not only was Bolton a prominent salesman for the Iraq War, but in recent years he has promoted the need to “change the regime” in Iran, penning articles for major publications advocating “ending Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution before its fortieth anniversary” (as in before the end of 2018) and “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”

It also includes Mike Pompeo, the current Secretary of State and America’s top diplomat. When the Iran Nuclear Deal was being negotiated in 2014, Pompeo, then a member of Congress, advocated for hundreds of airstrikes rather than diplomacy, and only this week commented “Iran must be stopped.”

With an appropriate Cabinet in place, the role of “Colin Powell at the United Nations” went to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In 2003, Colin Powell, holding his little vial up dramatically, told the UN and the world that international inspections which had shown compliance were not enough to prove that Saddam Hussein was not still secretly developing weapons of mass destruction.

Last week, Netanyahu gave a dramatic presentation claiming the same thing about Iran — that international inspections prescribed by the Iran deal were not enough to prove Iran was not still secretly working on nuclear weapons.

It’s kind of like when they make a sequel to a movie but replace one of the star actors with someone else. I’m thinking Major League and Major League 2, where the role of Willie Mays Hayes was played first by Wesley Snipes, then by Omar Epps.

At least when Powell sat and lied to the world he was a somewhat respected figure, he possessed some level of credibility.

As Netanyahu rattled on about secret documents and other such tomfoolery, he did so as one of the least credible people in modern geopolitics, a man who has been claiming Iran is 3-5 years away from acquiring nuclear weapons since 1992, a politician so far gone as to almost be a caricature.

(Sorry Omar Epps, you took the rough side of that analogy.)

At least one person went with it, however: Donald Trump.

Shorty after Netanyahu’s performance, Trump did what he had been threatening to do for so long and pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal.

The decision was met with global dismay. They have likely put the pieces to the puzzle together by now.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel scolded Trump for making the situation “even more difficult,” while mild-mannered Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a “thinly veiled rebuke.” In Italy, they called the move “an utter and unjustified betrayal of Europe,” while French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, asked, “Do we want to be a vassal that obeys and jumps to attention?”

I wonder if we are going to have to change the name of French fries to “Freedom fries” again, as was done when France refused to come along for the ride in Iraq.

A few days ago, Israel launched its largest aerial attack since the Yom Kippur War in 1973 on Iranian targets in Syria. This, in response to twenty missiles Israel claims Iran shot into the Golan Heights only days prior, none of which reportedly hit their target.

Now, U.S. troops are amassing in the Middle East, just as they quietly did well before war was declared on Iraq, and some international analysts are asking, “Might Trump Ask Israel to Fund America’s Invasion-Occupation of Syria?”

The pieces of the puzzle do not seem that difficult to put together this time. Maybe that’s because this is a sequel — Hey, we’ve already seen this one!

For the mainstream media, however, there is no puzzle, no goals and means by which to achieve them. There is only that day’s story.

The appointments of Pompeo and Bolton were not steps towards an end, but were travesties because the men were personally distasteful.

Earlier this week, The Atlantic published a piece on Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran deal. They discussed a few of the similarities I mentioned above between the buildup to the Iraq War and today.

Their conclusion?

“Obviously, there are differences between then and now. In 2003, the United States government wanted war. Today, it wants to undo a diplomatic agreement.”


Warning: This puzzle is not intended for children under 12 or members of the mainstream media.

Quote of the Week:

Written by Nigel Clarke

Writer and notorious vagabond. From the frozen north. Follow Nigel on Twitter @Nig_Clarke.

Nigel Clarke is a Writer for Progressive Army.

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