Reprinted from The Guardian
It's the ultimate rule in US national politics: there shall be no legitimate questioning of starting yet another war, even if all of the recent ones are the exact reason we are in our current situation with Isis. All signs increasingly point to the fact that the US is will be dragged into another ground war in the Middle East despite the administration's insistence that it does not want to get caught up in one.
The Pentagon announced Tuesday a new "expeditionary force" (a propaganda term to avoid saying "ground troops") that will apparently operate apart from any Iraqi or Syrian rebel allied fighters and be able to conduct cross-border raids in either country.
It's worth harkening back to the last military intervention -- one that has now completely backfired -- to question if more US soldiers on the ground in multiple countries will only exacerbate the problem, rather than be part of the solution. No, not the Iraq invasion, even though it obviously caused destruction on a massive scale and precipitated the rise of Isis. I'm talking about Libya in 2011.
Since the US overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi -- hailed at the time as a "model" for US intervention -- the country has descended into chaos, where large portions are now completely under the control of Isis. The New York Times carried a detailed story on its front page Sunday describing a dire situation with no functional government and various groups vying for power that fight each other rather than teaming up to fight Isis.
The Libyan intervention was the signature foreign policy move of Hillary Clinton's time as the Obama administration's secretary of state, where she pushed hard for military action when others were advising against it (and there was a very good argument that the whole war was illegal, given Congress not only did not approve it, but the House actively voted against it).
So now there are troops headed back to Iraq to fight and to Syria for the first time. Soon there will probably be troops headed to Libya, if that New York Times report is any indication.
There are some differences in this situation than in the past. In Iraq, we're at least not overthrowing their government this time (though if the past is any indication, the alienation of yet another generation of Iraqis and the creation of more terrorists is likely). In Syria, we're fighting both sides of a civil war, not just one -- with no one even coming close to explaining what the end game looks like, and how we avoid making the situation even worse than it already is.
But the fact remains: our military interventions have created the generation of terrorists that fight us now. As we gear up for the second or third generation of creating this same problem, when will the cycle stop?