It started with 9/11. Or did it ? If you have a few minutes and love detailed minutiae read "Ancient History": U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and the Folly of Intervention by Sheldon L. Richman, which details foreign involvement in the middle east back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. This "Ancient History" has total relevance to our, American, current situation, however I'm going to start at 9/11.
Paul O'Neill, former CEO of Alcoa Aluminum and Secretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush stated in his book, "The Price of Loyalty" that the war in Iraq was planned from the first National Security Council meeting, soon after the administration took office. This meeting took place January 30, 2001, eight months before the 9/11 attack. O'Neill observed that the debate was not "should we attack Iraq?" but rather "how do we go about attacking Iraq?" They talked about how the oil in Iraq was a global commodity and that it needed to be secured to stabilize the oil market globally.
After 9/11 the world was on our side and we had a cowboy president who was going to get the bad guys in black hats. George Bush's first response was to attack Afghanistan, which seemed logical since all 19 hijackers were al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda had been using Afghanistan as a training ground. The fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, home of Osama bin Laden didn't seem to matter much to the Bush administration and they let Saudi Arabia do their own investigations which, of course, turned up nothing. After an apparent success in conquering Afghanistan the Bush administration turned its sights on Iraq and Saddam Hussein, even though al-Qaeda did not exist there.
What we were told was that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, he had used them and was not afraid to use them again and that he was maybe months away from creating an atomic bomb using yellow cake uranium from Niger. Former ambassador Joe Wilson was sent to Niger to investigate this claim and found nothing to substantiate it. Later the documents verifying the export of yellow cake were proven to be forged, uncovered by the SISMI, Italian Military Intelligence. So using this lie we invaded Iraq on May 1, 2003.
At first it looked like things were going good. We were welcomed by the people, at least the ones we saw on camera and it looked like we may have an easy success like Afghanistan but then things turned ugly. There was out of control rioting and looting which then devolved into shootings and killings by warring Iraqi factions. In the meantime no weapons of mass destruction were found and our mission statement changed from to taking out Hussein because of WMD's and imminent atomic catastrophe, to the spreading of Democracy in the middle east.
As we tried placing Shiites in the new government the displaced former ruling Sunnis created death squads to exact revenge on the now in charge Shiites. Infighting went both ways and the civilian death toll since the invasion varies from 200,000 to over a million. As our efforts at forcing our kind of Democracy on a nation that had never had it was coming unraveled we had a new objective, better to fight them over there then fight them here. And because of our occupation of Iraq, we created a central point for jihadists all over the world to come and fight the infidels.
We like to have things explained in black and white terms, so what can we do about the terrorists? Imagine this, you are a Sunni in pre-invasion Iraq, you are then invaded by a foreign power, you are displaced from your job, from where you live, death and destruction is all around you, the Shiites who used to be on a different social level are now the government telling you what to do, Shiite and Sunni death squads are on rampage exacting mutual, never ending revenge and still, the infidel occupiers are in your land after 15 years with no end in sight. I ask you, who are the terrorists?
Meanwhile we talk about the newly emerged ISIS as a cancer, as if it's tumor on the skin that can easily be cut off. That's a mistake, because it's an extreme form of Islamic ideology that believes in creating a Caliphate, an Islamic state or country that people are willing to die for. How do you cut out a religion? We also say we need "Boots on the Ground", somehow the phrase removes the real cost of real human lives being used in warfare and also somehow gets conflated with the calling for Leadership, one equals the other. After 12 years in Iraq of "Boots on the Ground" trillions of dollars spent, the training of Iraqi security forces, the cost of human life uncountable, the war drums are again calling for more "Boots on the Ground", more training, more equipment etc. to deal with the ISIS fueled civil war going on in Syria and Iraq.
The last time the American trained Iraqi army faced ISIS they turned and ran, handing over the American weaponry and military hardware to ISIS but somehow next time it will have a different outcome, really, this is the definition of insanity. This is a completely unwinnable war because even if we somehow magically remove every ISIS member from the territory there's still this nasty little problem of the infighting between the Sunnis and the Shiites that's been going on since 632 AD and who is going to occupy the land, who is going to rule it?
At this point what are we even fighting for? We drill enough of our own oil to export it now and we are rapidly moving towards utilizing sustainable energy sources which makes oil obsolete. As long as we're in the middle east, we will continue to inflame Jihadists around the world and create a magnet for an endless conflict and a breeding ground for attacks in western countries.
The idea that we are surprised by getting "terrorist attacks" in America after the unfounded invasion and continued occupation of a sovereign foreign country including as of June of this year over 3,800 airstrikes dropping or firing no less than 15,000 bombs, killing roughly 15,000 ISIS supporters, just goes to show how ignorant and entitled we as Americans are. I propose a novel idea, let the people who live there keep the oil and sand, we leave. It was never ours.