Gratuitous finger-pointing is what war advocates do.
When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Americans' No. 1 concern was ridding the world of terrorists. Since Saddam Hussein was not known for supporting al-Qaeda and had no connection to the 9/11 attacks, the invasion never made sense.
Now it makes even less sense as Iraq is terrorized by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a jihadist group that even al-Qaeda found too extreme.
Somehow, this is President Obama's fault. The Iraq War boosters claim that Iraq had become stable, and that the president erred in pulling out U.S. troops. But if U.S. soldiers have to live and die in Iraq beyond a decade in order to prevent the country from descending into chaos, it was inherently unstable. Look no further than the fact that the Iraqi army, which Americans spent 10 years training, laid down its arms upon facing ISIS. At any rate, the complaints about Obama are completely gratuitous because Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to sign a Status of Forces Agreement that would have allowed the U.S. to stay.
Gratuitous finger-pointing is what Iraq War advocates do. They have yet to take responsibility for what will go down as one of the most horrific foreign policy debacles in American history.
Let's be clear: What is happening in Iraq is the fault of the George W. Bush administration and those who agitated for invasion. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, ISIS "emerged in the ashes of the U.S.-led invasion to oust Hussein." So, no invasion, no ISIS overrunning Iraq. Minus the invasion, there wouldn't have been Maliki's Shiite government isolating Iraq's Sunni and Kurdish minorities, leading to an entirely foreseeable sectarian war.
As horrible as Hussein was, he ran a secular government by Middle Eastern standards. Since the U.S. invasion, Iraq has become more theocratic. More than half a million Christians have fled the country in fear for their lives. Now we have the specter of a radical theocracy governed by sharia law wherever ISIS gains control. These are exactly the kind of fanatics the Iraq War proponents promised to eradicate. Instead, the war has spawned a new and reportedly even more barbaric enemy set on establishing a global caliphate.
Why does it matter to place the blame where it belongs? Because the war hawks — including Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz. — are furiously dishing out advice and representing themselves as the experts whom everyone should follow as the U.S. determines the best way to respond to the crisis they created. When considering their advice, it's important to remember just how wrong they got it in the first place.
It would also be wise for them, and everyone else, to pause and reflect on the unintended consequences of U.S. military actions before the U.S. starts headlong down another dangerous path.
Kirsten Powers writes weekly for USA TODAY.
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