“The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcasses of dead policies. When a mast falls overboard, you do not try to save a rope here and a spar there in memory of their former utility. You cut away the hamper altogether. It should be the same with policy, but it is not so. We cling to the shred of an old policy after it has been torn to pieces, and to the shadow of the shred after the rag itself has been torn away.”Lord Salisbury, 1877
If or when Ramadi is recaptured from the Islamic State (IS) by the Iraqi regime’s Shia-dominated military forces, which are being supported by U.S. air power, the United States will have scored another telling and self-inflicted defeat, one delivered by its national government’s interventionist foreign policy.
- If Ramadi is taken, most Islamic State forces and ordnance will have been removed from the city. Most of the fighters and weapons belonging to Ramadi’s IS garrison will survive to fight another day. As always, the Islamist insurgents are not going to fight for Ramadi or any other city to the last man and last bullet. They will leave, mend their wounded, bring in reinforcements, and attack in another place where the world can watch the entire Ramadi cycle repeat itself.
- If Ramadi falls, the United States will have facilitated the return of a Sunni city to the U.S.-EU fathered and supported Shia tyranny in Baghdad and its Iranian masters. That regime will pick up in Ramadi where it left off; that is, slaughtering Sunnis in the city and its environs. The reliability of media reporting about Ramadi and its population is uneven, but reading it leaves the impression that Ramadi’s Sunnis dislike and fear IS, but prefer its rule to the return of the murderous Shia regime. (NB: This impression is common when reading about most Sunni areas held by IS.)
- In a strategic sense, the U.S.-manufactured re-Shiafication of Ramadi will provide the Sunni world with more irrefutable proof that the United States has definitely and aggressively taken the Shia side in the evolving regional Shia-Sunni war. The upshot will be (a) more would-be mujahideen joining IS, al-Qaeda, and other Islamist groups from places like Syria, Iraq, Libya, Africa, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen, Pakistan, India, Egypt, the EU, the U.S., and Canada; (b) another possible reason for IS and al-Qaeda to discuss ending their confrontation, at least until Western intervention is defeated; and (c) a bit of additional glue the Saudis can use in building their so called “Anti-IS Sunni Coalition,” which is actually the strongest signal so far that Riyadh is preparing to fight not IS and al-Qaeda, but the anti-Shia war that IS and its most reliable allies — the Obama, Cameron, Hollande, and Putin administrations — have triggered.
There is no need for the United States to be in the midst of the mess in the Syria-Iraq theater, let alone to be fighting to restore a Shia tyranny. All of the parties in the Ramadi fight have long been defined by the U.S. bipartisan governing elite as America’s enemies, and they are now fighting and murdering each other with an intensifying and lethal sort of gay abandon. All America needs to do is stand clear, not take sides, and control its borders. But the Obama administration — like its Republican predecessor — is as dumb as stone about what is going on in Iraq, Syria, and the Islamic world as a whole. If it was not ignorant, it would not be assisting the Iraqi Shias to retake the Sunni city of Ramadi — which, if accomplished, will not improve U.S. security a jot — and thereby make the United States appear culpable for the bloody retribution the Shia will exact from the city’s Sunni community.
Unnecessary foreign military interventionism historically has been one of the gravedigger’s main tools for burying republics. Obama, G.W. Bush, and the Clintons have all been unable or unwilling to stop digging. Each champions the putrefying “dead carcass” of U.S. military/political/cultural intervention overseas, and, by doing so, they together have put the republic near to death’s door, suffering unending and always losing wars abroad, as well as bankruptcy and increasing national-government authoritarianism at home.
Given Lord Salisbury’s advice, it seems clear that it is long past time for Americans to refuse to “cling to the shred of an old [interventionist] policy after it has been torn to pieces,” and to likewise refuse to support any politician that advocates the continuation of the “shadow of the shred” of that policy as a panacea for the troubles of the United States in the Islamic world. The only policies that will even begin to solve those problems are neutrality and non-intervention.