Sorry Neo-Cons, Nation Building Always Fails

Sox Deveroux

When I first heard that people who lived through the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, and the crisis in Libya were pushing to invade Syria, I believed they were merely joking.  After all, how is it possible to cause so much disaster without taking a shred of accountability? While it now seems clear that the Neo-Cons are not joking – they are a joke.

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When Neo-Cons pushing to confront Syria are reminded of the failures of the Iraq War, they are quick to dig up their old talking points defending the $2.4 trillion mistake. As has been pushed by those with very little understanding of Iraqi politics, former prime minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki has been ubiquitously suggested to be the culprit behind Iraq’s descent into the underworld.

As James Denselow, an Iraq Analyst at London’s King’s College, wrote back in 2007, “Maliki’s job is fairly untenable. Iraq is like Lebanon on crack.” Maliki, who has been simultaneously labeled a power-hungry tyrant while being authentically apprehensive of even running for office, was tasked with bringing three divergent groups of people together under one government.

When the Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish factions had not yet delivered on benchmarks set out by Congress, President Bush was quick to put more pressure on Maliki to satisfy his domestic audience. Maliki was quickly labeled as a sectarian in western journalism – and blamed for Kurds and Sunnis refusing to be part of the newly created Iraq. The Neo-Con had found their talking point – an excuse to justify failed nation-building.

Therefore, by Neo-Con logic ( If we can call it that), America killing millions in Iraq and installing a new government was not the problem. Maliki failing to unite three historically feuding groups with three different goals was the issue.

The first problem with the Neo-Conservative excuse is that there were no Shiite alternatives to Maliki that were less sectarian or less connected to Iran.

Even Reidar Visser, a notoriously anti-Maliki Iraq analyst from Norway, admits that “the resuscitation of the de-Baathification issue in early 2010 was clearly driven by Maliki’s Shiite enemies [like Adel Abdel Mehdi] who, with considerable Iranian assistance, had tried in vain to enlist him for their sectarian alliance during the previous summer.” Indeed, Visser notes, Maliki had to fight off de-Baathification committee attempts to disqualify some of his own political allies.”

In fact, while many of the candidates for Iraqi P.M., including Maliki, had extensive connections with Iran, the former Dawa party member was the only one who spent the majority of his Iraqi exile in Syria rather that the vilified Persian state.

The frustration of the Neo-Cons with Maliki is based on the assumption that a political reconciliation among Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds was achievable within weeks or months. This level of wishful thinking is reminiscent of the adage regarding a definition of craziness: repeating the same actions and expecting different results.

In 2007, when Sunni politicians gave Maliki a week to meet a broad list of 11 demands, including guarantees that the country would not split into three portions, they withdrew from the government when the demands weren’t reached – as they had done in 2005.


When Sunni groups refused to take part in Iraq’s first parliamentary election, they quickly resorted to violence in the aftermath of the US invasion.  According to Sunni deputy prime minister, Osama al Najafi, “ The Sunnis see political leadership and governance to be their birthright and resent the Shia interlopers.” With stances such as that, one must ask if any Shiite leadership would be able to manage Sunni/ Shiite turmoil.

In regards to the Kurds of Iraq distancing themselves from Maliki’s Baghdad government, one important topic always comes up: the failure to establish a national oil sharing system amongst all Iraqis. As an investigation by the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee shows, the American State Department and other administration officials encouraged an exploration deal between Texas-based Hunt Oil Co. and Iraq’s Kurdish government. The direct contact and negotiations between the U.S and Kurdistan were in direct violation of Iraqi law. Such violations became the norm. When Rex Tillerson’s Exxon and major oil power Royal Dutch Shell invested millions into Kurdistan, essentially cutting out Sunni and Shiite groups from any possible revenue, the dream of Kurdish independence from Iraq became a distinct possibility.

“Part of the process of building our region has to do, of course, with dealing with oil, signing contracts, negotiations with various countries,” Fuad Hussein, chief of staff to Kurdistan’s president, told Reuters. The Exxon deal validated smaller oil deals Kurdistan had already signed and was “a big victory for us.”

While Maliki is accused of not being able to control his people, it would appear America has the same inability to control its war profiteering industry. To bash the democratically-elected Maliki because he pursued policies that did not always conform to the American game plan perfectly demonstrates the ignorance and naivety of the classic Neo-Con.

While the hypocritical war mongers squeal at the opportunity to excuse their own guilt by criticizing the  “sectarian” government Maliki ran, they often forget to mention Saudi or Turkish support for Salafi and Deobandi terrorists throughout Syria and Iraq.  As Afghanistan, Libya and Nigeria can attest to, domestic governments are virtually helpless against Saudi-funded militias. As we now know, ISIS was funded for years by wealthy donors in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

While Maliki had faults, turning the blind eye to Saudi support and ignoring the Kurd’s very direct, overly ambitious intention of seeking independence is distasteful and a form of slogan shouting no better than what passes as news on Comedy Central.  The image of a bully kicking a hornet’s nest and blaming the hornets for stinging people comes to mind when disgraced pariahs such as John Bolton return with the unique brand of revisionist history.

You see, fellow Americans, the issue wasn’t that $2.4 trillion was spent to gain power – it was that $3 trillion wasn’t spent.  If $3 trillion were the cost, the issue would be that $3.5 wasn’t sent. For people who claim a rational high ground, their lack of falsifiable arguments is certainly suspect.

  1. Post Author

    You might want to ask the Japanese and Germans if that’s true or not.

    • Post Author

      Nation building doesn’t work? Really? How about Germany, Japan ,Italy? You may have a point in the middle east. Democracy doesn’t seem flourish there.

    • Post Author

      While there are shreds of truth in your post, to compare Iraq and ISIS to Nazi Germany and Japan simply underscores what a liberal supposedly intelligent idiot writes like. The world needs fewer of your kind and if nation building does not work, these areas will be a good place to spread our nuclear waste thereby eliminating the need for nation building. There will be no nation there at all.

  2. Post Author

    As another poster pointed out, Japan and Germany were both successful examples of nation building.

    Several reasons for this. First, and most important, the occupying powers understood the culture. Particularly, especially in the case of Japan, nation building was within the context of the culture. In the case of Iraq, Libya and now Syria, it has clear that no American administration has deep understanding of the region. This includes Obama as well as Bush. As for the current administration, lack of understanding would be complimenting them.
    Second, the US was not only willing to expend wealth, but also time in ensuring that nation building actually occurred. There was no reliance on superficialities. In other words, their was no illusions that having an election implied that The state had achieved democracy.
    I can continue, but needless to say that, it is clear that this article lacks any type of clear analysis and is solely an attempt simplify a complex issue solely to make an ideological point.

  3. Post Author

    Pick any era and look at the history of the middle east. Even before oil became a huge motivator there was outside interference in the region and that interference had ALL to do with the interests of those who interfered and little or nothing to do with the needs of the peoples of those regions. The biggest force messing up the middle east is external interference and western Europeans (including the US of A) number largely though not exclusively in this group. Today’s event are no different.

  4. Post Author

    It helps when we are allowed to win the war, win like the guys were allowed to do in WWII. As someone commented above, “Ask Germany, Japan, & Italy.”

    Libs also love to say you defeat an idea with better ideas. I say, “We defeated the above 3 ideas (aka: Nations) with US and UK blood and steel. We were not dropping copies of the Federalist Papers, Declaration of Independence’s, and Constitutions.

    After unconditional surrenders, they were more than ready for new ideas, as specifically identified above.

  5. Post Author

    Iraq should probably be split into 3 nations as the sub-continent was split into India and Pakistan. Even with the subsequent problems and dislocations that occurred, at least it worked and is better than the incessant civil wars that no doubt would have occurred. It must be remembered that Iraq was never an actual nation, just lines drawn a map at the end of WWI.

  6. Post Author

    you lost me at America killing ‘millions’ in Iraq. Where is the evidence for that? Apart from a disputed UN estimate that up to a million died as the result of the Iraq war. We know how reliable UN estimates are. However many died it was the Muslims killing each other that was largely responsible. Whether that would have happened with or without the war we can never know

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