Bombing our own guns

How 15 years of U.S. Iraq policy has led to a surreal nightmare

Now that ISIS suddenly has become such a huge presence in Iraq and Syria, America’s recent involvement with those countries seems like a surreal nightmare.

As Max Fisher, writing in the online news magazine Vox, points out, the United States is now bombing hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of high-tech military equipment America provided to the Iraqi military in the decade following the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The reason we gave the Iraqis all that expensive weaponry was, of course, that we had destroyed the weapons they already had.

But the Iraqi army failed, fleeing from ISIS and leaving all those weapons behind for the jihadists to use. Not only did the weapons fail to make Iraq secure, they now are being used by an offshoot of al-Qaida to terrorize the Iraqis that the U.S. ostensibly liberated 11 years ago.

In Syria, America chose not to give weapons to the moderate rebels, fearing they might fall into the hands of ISIS. As Fisher writes, “that made it easier for ISIS to overpower the underfunded moderate rebels, and now ISIS has seized, in Iraq, much better versions of the weapons that we were so worried they might acquire in Syria. So now we’re bombing the guns that we didn’t mean to give ISIS because we didn’t give guns to their enemies because then ISIS might get guns.

“It’s not just ironic,” Fisher concludes. “It’s a symbol of how disastrous the last 15 years of U.S. Iraq policy have been, how circuitous and self-perpetuating the violence, that we are now bombing our own guns. Welcome to American grand strategy in the Middle East.”