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Rand Paul is Wrong. Leave Iraq Alone!

Rand Paul

Still opposing the Iraq War in 2003, Senator Rand Paul now wants Congress to declare war against the Islamic State and engage in military action in Iraq. He says that “national security” is at stake.

I’ve got a better idea: Leave Iraq alone! Hasn’t the U.S. government done enough damage already in Iraq?

Consider all the death and destruction that interventionists have wrought on this poor nation. Some people estimate that more than a million Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. The reason we don’t have a more precise figure is because the U.S. military announced at the inception of the invasion in 2003 that it would not keep track of Iraqi dead. It would keep track of American dead but not Iraqi dead. The number of Iraqis killed in the conflict just didn’t matter. Iraqis were looked upon the same way that U.S. military officials looked upon Vietnamese people as “gooks” during the Vietnam War.

Consider all the maimed Iraqis — the paralyzed, the blind, the handicapped. Their lives will never be the same again.

Consider those who were injured but managed to recover. Who cares about the pain and suffering they underwent? Certainly not the people who caused it.

Consider all the destruction that came with the invasion and occupation. Homes, businesses, roads, bridges. Bombed, shot up, and destroyed.

Consider the torture sessions at Abu Ghraib, where the troops disrobed Iraqi men and committed all sorts of sexual and physical mayhem on them. In fact, think about the Iraqi prisoners who were executed while in CIA or U.S. military custody.

Indeed, consider the brutal, tyrannical regime that is now governing Iraq. The only difference between it and Saddam’s regime is the identity of the victims.

Interventionists continue to say that it was all worth it, a rather cavalier attitude given that it was the Iraqi people who bore most of the costs for the operation. Yes, it’s true that thousands of U.S. troops were killed, maimed, injured, or came back all screwed up in the head, but those horrors pale in comparison to what the Iraqi people have suffered.

Interventionists will tell you that the Iraqis had it coming — that they were nothing but “bad guys.”

Of course, there is just one glaring problem in all this: The U.S. government was the aggressor in the war! It was the violator of the principle against “wars of aggression” that was enforced against Nazi officials at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. The U.S. government attacked Iraq. Iraq was the defending nation.

Nonetheless, Americans are constantly exhorted to thank the troops for their “service” in Iraq: “Thank you, troops, for killing, maiming, injuring, and torturing all those Iraqis during your war of aggression against Iraq, a type of war declared a war crime at Nuremberg.”

Of course, that’s not how the actual praise goes. Instead, it goes “Thank you for defending our rights and freedoms in Iraq.” Never mind that neither the Iraqi government nor the Iraqi people ever threatened “our rights and freedoms.” Americans need something — anything — to salve the conscience after the orgy of death and destruction that the U.S. government unleashed on a country that never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.

Wouldn’t you love to know exactly how the Islamic State supposedly poses a threat to “national security,” a term that has no objective meaning? Do interventionists imagine that an Islamic State victory would mean that the United States would fall into the ocean? Does they imagine that it would mean that Iraq would end up invading, conquering, and occupying the United States, taking over the IRS, the Interstate Highway System, and the Federal Reserve? Does they imagine that it would mean that Americans would have to learn Farsi?

The reality is that it wouldn’t mean any of those things. In fact, the reality is that an Islamic State victory in Iraq would constitute no threat whatsoever to the United States or to “our rights and freedoms.”

After all, would an Islamic State government be any different from Saddam Hussein’s regime or, for that matter, tyrannical regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, Vietnam, Burma, China, or the regime currently governing Iraq? Isn’t it rather clear that the United States is still standing notwithstanding the existence of tyrannical regimes in the world?

Didn’t we hear these imperialist bromides throughout the Cold War? If North Vietnam were to win the war, the dominoes would start falling, and the American people would soon be speaking communist. If Chile, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, or other Latin American countries were to join Cuba on the road to communism and socialism, it wouldn’t be long before the United States would fall to the U.S. Communist Party.

It was all imperialist nonsense. South Vietnam fell, and the United States is still standing. Those Latin American countries have all gone socialist or communist, and the United States is still standing. Indeed, Cuba is still communist, and the United States is still standing.

Forget declaring war on the Islamic State. The U.S. government has done enough damage in Iraq. More intervention will only pour fuel on the fire that the U.S. government ignited with its wrongful invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.

Leave Iraq alone! It’s the best thing that the U.S. government could ever do for the Iraqi people. Enough is enough.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.


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