Airstrikes and rockets that hit targets in Syria and Iraq this week mark an escalation in the early stages of a war stamped with the trademark -- Made-in-the-USA. This latest war follows upon earlier interventions and strategic errors that helped fan the flames of jihadist militancy.
Preferable to a US-led coalition in which Sunni dictatorships and former colonial powers play a prominent role would have been a genuine international effort inclusive of Syria and Iran, and perhaps one or more of the BRICS nations. But given the political snake pit the ME has become any such scenario is certain to be seen as more problem than solution by the imperialist powers who jealously guard their interests. A Guardian article by Ali Gharib entitled - Obama's ISIS coalition was built at Iran's expense, and Rouhani knows it - discusses some of the hurdles to cooperation even in the face of rampaging ISIL.
The lead role of the US in this new war effort is ironic given the American contribution to the actual crisis. The disastrous fall-out from the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Washington's covert involvement in the Syrian conflict were key factors behind the growth of ISIL and like-minded groups. This angle was of course downplayed as Obama and Gulf autocrats worked to undermine Syria, the only secular state in the region.
Imperialist war making and interference has been instrumental in unleashing a tidal wave of sectarianism and Islamist radicalization. There is no reason to suppose that this war will be any different. Even though it is ostensibly being directed at ISIL over time it could be perceived quite differently, especially if the impetus shifts toward the targeting of Syrian regime forces and assets in an effort to oust Assad, or if there is a high civilian casualty toll. Many factors could change the direction and perception of the war.
Stirring it up seems to be part of the US talent. Throughout recent decades when it served its purposes Washington cynically supported hardline Islamic groups that more often than not wound up turning against it. The article Playing with Fanatic Fire published recently on the AntiWar site provides some background on how radical Islam has been exploited in the pursuit of power.
During a UN speech this week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rightly linked "strategic blunders" in the Middle East with the rise of groups such as ISIL. Rouhani said - "Certain states have helped to create it, and are now failing to withstand it. Currently our peoples are paying the price." He also said that anti-Western sentiment in parts of the globe was "the offspring of yesterday's colonialism."
The use of airstrikes and rockets will create a lot of damage while not defeating the Islamic State. This is a recipe for a long drawn out war with civilian casualties. The recent airstrikes in Syria have already resulted in civilian deaths. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that eight civilians were killed, including three children. In Der-Ezor province where coalition warplanes targeted ISIL facilities there were civilian casualties. The Syrian Observatory reports that in the countryside of al-Hasakah the dead included women and children. More "mistakes" that will be compounded as the bombing campaign progresses.
You would think there was no causal chain... no lessons to be learned from past mistakes as the US embarks on yet another war with no foreseeable end and freighted with unseen consequence. The view of Obama as a 'reluctant warrior' isn't supported by the facts. Far from being a reluctant warrior, Obama has exhibited a cynical willingness to exploit US military power even more aggressively than many of his predecessors.
Under his watch predator drone strikes dubbed "bug splats" have had a devastating impact on communities in Pakistan. In the process of targeting militants hundreds of civilians have been killed, including women and children. Black ops, dirty wars and airstrikes have increased during his presidency - notably in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, in the assault on Libya and most recently in Syria and Iraq. This projection of American military power is not just profoundly misguided, it is dangerous. It feeds the cycle of violence and adds exponentially to the insecurity in our world rather than decreasing it.