Rick Perry Promotes U.S. Intervention in Iraq and Syria

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Texas has a tradition of producing nationally-known and powerful warmongers: Lyndon Baines Johnson, George W. Bush, and now Rick Perry.

Rick Perry, governor of Texas, has been taken out to the woodshed and thoroughly thrashed in this 2011 Rolling Stone article. Naturally it’s by Matt Taibbi, but there is no doubt that he has exposed Perry’s sterling crony capitalist credentials. Is Perry still thinking about the presidency? Well he might when you consider the available Republican field. Maybe that’s one reason why he’s giving out his opinion favoring U.S. war-making in Iraq, this time against Islamic State (IS).

There’s another possible reason. Texas is a major “defense” and aerospace industry state. Old data from 2007 show it’s second after Virginia and ahead of third place California. Perry has been instrumental in using government to nurture the industry and its growth under his regime. Based on Taibbi’s findings, I’ll hazard a guess that we will discover major incestuous relationships of money and appointments that link Perry’s government with these industries, if we look. I’m not looking, and I do not accuse Perry of being a whore or a sellout. Being an ex-pilot, he may believe in the extension of U.S. power. He may believe in crony capitalism and see it as the American way. I’m more interested in the content of his warmongering thought, because of his ambitions and because his thought is the same thought as many other people who have power in this land.

Perry’s op-ed criticizes Obama’s actions in Iraq and Syria too as late and not enough. This is a popular theme of the Republican warmongering right. Perry calls for us to face “reality”. But what reality is that? Does Perry recognize reality? It’s very doubtful. His statements about Syria are terminally naive, wrong, and/or outright lies designed to gain political advantage:

“Significant material support for moderate rebels in Syria could have helped them gain the upper hand against the Assad regime and could have spared many lives while preventing Syria from becoming an Islamic State stronghold. The White House’s lofty declarations that ‘Assad must go’ weren’t supported by meaningful action.”

When some rebels first asked for aid in December of 2011, it was already known that they counted “indoctrinated Islamists” among their number. The reality is that the U.S. has materially supported war against Syria for several years by training rebels, by providing them with aid, and by seeing that weapons were supplied to them by client states in the region. This was reported at least by May 14, 2012 in the Washington Post. By Feb. 28, 2013, it became known that an additional $60 million in non-lethal aid was being provided. Every dollar supplied free of non-lethal aid frees up a dollar that rebels can spend on lethal aid. It frees up a lethal aid supplier like Qatar or sheiks in Saudi Arabia from having to spend that money themselves on non-lethal aid, so that they can supply that much more in lethal war supplies.

By June of 2014, the U.S. had been supplying both arms and other kinds of aid for some time. Susan Rice made this public at that time. It was also known by mid-2012 that the Islamic fundamentalists or jihadists or mujahideen were the toughest rebel fighters among the rebels and that arms and supplies were coming into their hands. See here. The vetting of rebels to filter arms to moderates was a very imperfect process.

The war in Syria and the entry of foreign fighters and mujahideen provided the opportunity for ISIS (now IS) to form and arm itself. It secured equipment from the flow of aid coming in to Syria. It adopted its first name (ISIS or ISIL) in April of 2013.

Coming back to Perry’s statement, there was already plenty of aid being sent into Syria and ISIS was getting more than its share, one reason being its greater willingness to fight. This too became well-known. The U.S. did not and could not separate the fighting elements and divide them into moderate rebels and extremist rebels. The U.S. has proven incapable of controlling factions, even with extraordinary resources applied to the effort. The U.S. has also been incapable of controlling the flow of recruits across multiple state borders to an organization like ISIS. The U.S. cannot or does not wish to pressure the client states that it supposedly counts as allies in this region and across North Africa. If greater amounts of aid had been provided, ISIS would have simply gotten more for itself.

Perry doesn’t recognize any of this in his statement. He prefers to ignore the causes and the dynamics of the situation he’s addressing in Iraq. He prefers to go from one foul-up to the next, ignoring the fact that applications of U.S. power are continually causing each successive expansion of the ranks of jihadists and each successive crisis.

If the U.S. had bowed out and cut its losses in 2003 or 2004 or 2005 or any year since, if the U.S. had stayed out of Syria, if, if, if it had stopped intervening at any number of times and in any number of places, it would not now face the threats on Baghdad and Iraq proper. These threats are still manageable without U.S. interference. Obama hasn’t yet drawn a line and said “no more whatsoever.” That line needs to be drawn, but Perry doesn’t advocate that. He advocates more of the same.

The U.S. is busy producing a new generation of extreme Islamic fundamentalists. It is inducing susceptible young men into the ranks of diehard jihadism. Only a small fraction of all Muslims are susceptible to this appeal, but there are lots of Muslims in many countries and those who are susceptible to jihad are willing to flock to Iraq or some other remote place in order to concentrate their numbers. The U.S. cannot lick this problem with air power and it can’t lick it with troops on the ground. These perpetuate and augment the problem by creating more martyrs and greater recruitment. The U.S. has to draw a line of non-interference, withdraw, salve its pride, stop trying to do whatever it thinks it’s trying to do, pull back its military and go back to an era of peace on this continent.

Perry thinks the sky is threatening to fall:

“And in Syria as well as Iraq, this terrorist army that boasts of plans to strike within the United States must be confronted as the serious threat it is to our people.”

IS is not a serious threat whatsoever to Americans. It’s way too small and it’s way too far away. A bunch of trucks with mounted guns and highly-motivated men willing to die are not threatening Americans. The mistaken moves by the U.S. in the Middle East have for decades nurtured this jihadist force. The U.S. is their best recruiter.

The U.S. should withdraw from the Middle East and let the people there handle their own lives and their own defenses. The U.S. quest for stability through military force has not succeeded. The quest to control oil supplies and capital investments in oil have resulted in diminishing them. U.S. leaders need to understand that whoever owns the oil in the Middle East will, sooner or later, want to sell it, and they’ll want to reach deals to develop the oil infra-structure and maintain it. The U.S. doesn’t need to be deeply involved politically and militarily in the region to be able to buy oil. The U.S. doesn’t have to attempt to control events in the name of stability. It has to learn to sit on its hands patiently while others settle matters for themselves and even fight with one another in doing it.

1:15 pm on August 17, 2014