Karl Marx famously wrote that history repeats itself – the first time as tragedy, then as farce. That just about sums up the contortions that the US is twisting itself into over Iraq, shabbily abetted by David Cameron.
And then of course there is the modern equivalent of the lunatic in the attic, Tony Blair, rolling his eyes and claiming everyone else is wrong. Blair is accused by an academic who briefed him before the invasion and occupation of Iraq, that he bears total responsibility for Isis. Noted Arab expert George Joffe and others warned him in 2002 that the country would descend into civil war and a Sunni-led insurgency. He wasn’t listening, said Joffe, who is a visiting professor at King’s College London, in an interview with the Huffington Post.
As we go to press, the US is about to send 300 “military advisers” to Iraq. The US has a history of sending its military advisers around the globe. In May 1961, for example, President Kennedy sent 400 of them to South Vietnam, all wearing green berets. In January this year it sent some to Somalia. In May the Washington Post reported Obama as considering sending military advisers to Syria.
Why is the US suddenly becoming so generous with its advice? The answer is obvious: its pet dog Isis, variously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or of Iraq and Syria, or of Iraq and the Levant, may have slipped its leash and gone into business for itself.
In another tragedy/farce repetition, the US had been training Isis in Jordan, in much the same way as it initially trained and funded Osama bin-Laden. Its role in Iraq was to spur the partition of that oil-rich country, the better to keep its oil under US control. The idea was to have Kurds ruling the north, Sunnis the centre and Shiites the south.
But with Isis clearly reckoning it can take the lot, panic buttons are being pressed around the world.
Now Cameron has piped up, claiming that the reactionary Isis terrorists (for that is what they are) in Iraq are “a real threat to our country”. No: they are only a threat to us if he allows any of them return freely to this country. But if they are a threat, why the reports that British Special Forces have been training them in the NATO bases in Turkey?
While the British and US governments train the Isis fighters, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both US allies, fund them, says Iran, to fervent US denials. It’s par for the course. The Saudi and Qatari autocrats support reactionary extremism and terrorism across the world. The government here allows Saudi money to fund the most reactionary forms of Islamism in Britain.
The plain fact is that the US and Britain have been using religion to break apart the secular states of the Arab world – because these secular states are strong and independent.
Ask anyone who visited Syria before the civil war and they will tell you how everyone lived peaceably side by side. Much the same was said about Egypt. Or Libya.
In their haste to destroy these countries, Western politicians sneered at, for example, Assad’s clearly justified claims that foreign jihadists were having a field day in Syria – and that they would be returning to their countries of origin armed and dangerous. The West threw money and weapons (cash more openly than arms, but arms all the same) at these haters of civilisation and progress.
Cameron is so clueless he’s having to turn to Iran for help (or at least, to pretend he’s making friends there). Labour’s Ed Miliband is playing his accustomed role of poodle, supporting what the government is doing. Foreign Secretary William Hague is working overtime to say British troops will not get involved in Iraq. So is Obama. They protest too much. They are clearly thinking about it. And if history teaches us anything, it is that people like them never learn.
But workers have learned. We demand hands off – no foreign wars in our name! ■