We are now entering the “How were we supposed to know?” phase of history in Iraq

We are now entering the “How were we supposed to know?” phase of history in Iraq August 9, 2014

“Those who decide that all peaceful means that international law makes available are exhausted assume a grave responsibility before God, their conscience and history,” – Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, March 20, 2003

I’m finding it harder and harder to argue against the fact that we need to kill the rabid dog that is ISIS. I can’t stand the horrors these monsters are committing. But it also means that the people we want to help are going to die in large numbers, and that, when we are done destroying ISIS, somebody else will fill the void who will likely be just as horrible. At the moment, what I’d really like to do is strap Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the fools who created this horror (and still admit no error as they roam the conservative newsosphere claiming to be experts) to the bombs we drop on ISIS. What a nightmare they created. They should be tried in the Hague and jailed for the rest of their lives, not feted by Pravda FOX.

If we go to war, it can’t be half-assed aspirin factory bombing. So we have to either decide to destroy ISIS (that means a ground war with our sorely abused and overstressed troops once again bearing the burden while Congress cuts their pay and votes themselves raises) or evacuate the refugees. If war, that puts us into Syria too–and on a side we don’t especially want to be on, since ISIS is there too.

I don’t know about you, but I’m praying that God will intervene somehow. This looks bigger than us humans can get through on our own. The Holy Father has called us to prayer. That seems the smartest move. God can think of things we can’t.

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  • Andy

    Prayer seems the mist appropriate, because no matter what we do, it will be seen as wrong by one group or another in the US and groups. I have no doubt sadly that there will soon be troops on the ground, and want to see Bush et al. on the front line.

  • hebbron

    “the gift that keeps on giving” ….. ah, invasion of Iraq….was the oil worth it……. death to thousands, ours and theirs, then and now… was it worth it ..prayer needed for the reparation of our sins, including greed and murder …. pray that those who made horrific decisions that they take off their look and expression of innocence masks and accept their responsibility, and not continue to be blind to their part in these atrocities, and ask forgiveness from G_d, the American people, the world and from all families involved in death and loss, pray, too, for our president, congress, military, etc. for guidance in this never ending struggle. “Oh, my G_d, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee…. “

  • kirthigdon

    Prayer and non-violent aid to the suffering is what is needed. Another generation of American war in the Middle East will make things worse, just as the last few wars have made things worse. We don’t know how things will turn out without US intervention but we have the evidence of how things turn out with US intervention. The conventional forces of the IS may be defeated or sufficiently degraded that the IS must go to ground again as a terrorist organization. This will be to the benefit of Iran and Syria, which the US regime will then decide to wage war against. Meanwhile, almost unnoticed, the US has warned Russia not to intervene in the Ukraine on the pretext of humanitarian intervention even though three quarters of a million refugees from the Ukrainian offensive have been driven across the Russian border. Humanitarian intervention is a pretext permitted only to Obomber and the US evil empire. Here on the contennial anniversary of the start of WWI, we find ourselves on the edge of WWIII. May God deliver us!

    Kirt Higdon

  • Catholic pilgrim

    Amen, Mark! Next time our President(s) & Politicians decide to go to war, they (including the War-supporting President) should be willing to put on a soldier’s uniform & risk their lives fighting on actual combat grounds. Chicken hawks (like Cheney) don’t have the guts to do it. Also, Bush Jr. at least has the decency to shut up in his little Texas ranch after retiring & doesn’t go to media offering war advice & war cries. Dick Cheney (who is not even a veteran) is doing the opposite. The man has no shame nor decency. He’s not even sorry for the Islamic mess he caused in Iraq, & he has the nerve to go all over the media offering more war cries & war “advice”. Mr. Cheney (who never met a war he didn’t like yet he conveniently never risked his life fighting in one), if you want want more wars, then go over there & take your war-hungry daughters (who also show up all over FOX & CNN) & fight them yourselves. Leave my country alone! Shameful. As to the war-hungry “Catholics” (you know who you are) who continue to ignore the injustices of War & the cries of War victims & also ignored the cries & warnings by our Holy Fathers St. John Paul & Benedict XVI against the Iraq War & other pre-emotive violent wars, quit being Cafeteria Catholics! Quit ignoring the teachings of Holy Mother Church & non-violent commands of Christ our King.

  • Petey

    blowhard manages all at once to try to undercut what has been started, and call for even more of it, but not using ground troops, because that would be politically unpopular:

    i’d agree with the bit about more of the same that we’re doing now, lots more, because ISIS seems to be The Big One, but i have exactly no military education. i assume that the first bombings were to clear a corridor for the refugees to get to kurdistan. i think i know how ISIS is financed (massive bank robberies, apparently), but where did they all come from, and above all how have they managed such military success? is it really down to sectarianism and incompetence in baghdad?

    i know i’m on a patheos blog but i can’t find a way to relate this to catholicism.

  • Now everyone remain calm, but I have a question. Would leaving Saddam in power have been a better situation? I’d say we can’t know for sure. We may get a clue with Iran though. I predict some “unfriendly” nation in the Middle East will
    eventually get the bomb and will use it, or sell it to someone who will use it. No one will go to war to prevent it because of the mess in Iraq, and as the calm nuclear winter sets in we will once again enter the “How were we supposed to know?” phase of history .

    Not saying the Iraq war was right, just wondering out-loud.
    “In you, O Lord, have I hoped; I shall not be confounded forever.”
    – St. Claude de la Colobiere

    • Dave G.

      I predict some “unfriendly” nation in the Middle East will
      eventually get the bomb and will use it, or sell it to someone who will use it.

      Even if they do, you have to keep it in perspective. Remember, 9/11 wasn’t really that big of deal in hindsight. More people die in auto accidents in a month than died on 9/11. I know that because it’s been repeated a hundred times on the internet. It’s that sort of thinking you have to keep in mind. The biggest thing to remember is that we lose war after war (losing wars is as American as apple pie) and it doesn’t really impact us. At least immediately. In the old days, you lost a war, you belonged to someone else – if you were lucky. Today, we lose one after another but can still keep watching Netflix or waiting for the latest smartphone upgrade. So it’s not a big deal. And that was already in our system on the day of 9/11. If Bush deserves blame for anything, it’s trying to reach back to ‘we must fight!’ mentalities, while also trying to appease modern ‘ah, war’s a hassle, can’t we just play a video game?’ thinking. After all, for most of us, the closest we get to the results of any of this is the internet. It won’t be until it’s well past too late that we’ll feel the full brunt of our folly. And then it will likely be our children and their children who pay the price. Which for the current generation of adults, is probably a price we’re willing to pay. I think Max Lucado was right. The problem with 9/11 wasn’t that it changed America. The problem, alas for Iraq and our posterity, is that it didn’t.

      • jroberts548

        The reason we lose so many wars is because we fight a lot of wars where we don’t have anything at stake. Most Americans are rightly more interested in video games or anything else than war, because nothing poses an existential threat to us. If we don’t like the “ah, war’s a hassle, can’t we just play a video game?” mentality, then we should stop fighting wars for no reason.

        • Dave G.

          And for reasons unknown, we think that the loss of these wars, however ill conceived, doesn’t have long term implications. And the problem now, of course, is I doubt there is anything that would cause us to think any war is more important than the latest version of Angry Birds. See 9/11 as no big deal for an example.

    • jroberts548


      Removing Saddam from power and replacing him with a weaker, Shia dictator made Iraq, and the whole region, worse off. Bombing Iraq in 1998, which accomplished nothing but getting the UN weapons inspectors kicked out, made Iraq and us worse off. Imposing sanctions on Iraq, the cost of which were born by everyone but Saddam, made Iraq and us worse off. Giving Saddam chemical weapons in the 80s made Iraq, and the whole region, worse off. We’ve spent a solid 34 years making Iraq and the region worse off, for the benefit of, at varying times, Saddam, Clinton, the Bushes, Maliki, and now ISIS. I will be shocked if we manage to do anything now that benefits Iraq and doesn’t benefit ISIS.

      Saddam chiefly posed a threat to the Kurds. He posed a threat to the Kurds in the 80s because we gave him chemical weapons. By the late 90s (or certainly by 2003), he either no longer had usable chemical weapons, or he had lost the willingness to use them. By now, Saddam would be 77 years old. His regime would be on the cusp of ending or transitioning to someone else, due solely to biology. But there would still be a secularist Ba’ath party, capable of protecting the Christian minority and keeping down the forces of Sunni extremism.

      • RJohnson64

        Actually, Saddam posed a danger to the Kurds as far back as mid 1970s, when we used the Shah of Iran, our reliable puppet, to fund and arm the Kurds for a war against Iraq. The Shah later stabbed the Kurds in the back by signing the Algiers Agreement, and we stood idly by while Kurds were slaughtered by Saddam.

        In the 1990s we, once again, promised to arm and support the Kurds if they would attack a weakened Saddam and try to establish an independent Kurdish nation (which would be convenient for our efforts to counter Iran in the region). Saddam used chemical weapons against them, killing thousands. We stood idly by while they died.

        Now we have ISIS committing atrocities in Iraq, and we expect the Kurds to trust us when we deliver arms to them? I would hope they are not that stupid.

        • jroberts548

          We didn’t so much stand idly by as give Saddam the chemical weapons (or the precursors to which) that he used on the Kurds.

          • RJohnson64

            But those were sold to our good anti-Soviet ally, Saddam Hussein, by St. Ronald (may his jelly-bean forever be fruity) Reagan. And of course we sold them with the “don’t use them against your own citizens” label clearly attached to the shipping cartons.


      • Jonk

        Seems to me ISIS got off to a “successful” start in a country run by a Baathist dictator who came to the position by hereditary means, who hasn’t been terribly capable of containing or dealing with them. Maybe Uday or Qusay would have been more competent than Assad. It’s impossible to know. But the claim that a Hussein regime would have stopped ISIS is on seriously shaky ground, given the Syria counter example.

        • jroberts548

          The Assad held portions of Syria are indeed ran by Assad. The rebel held portions are not. It isn’t like ISIS just spontaneously generated during the Arab spring; it took 3 years to build up power in the chaos of Syria’s civil war. ISIS wasn’t that big – they took Mosul with only 800 men. Assad’s miltary could have likely beaten them handily, if he wasn’t also also fighting against scores of rebel factions. Some of these factions have been backed by the US. They have not been backed by us enough to win, but just enough to keep the war going. The only winner of our decision to do that was ISIS.

      • Rachel

        You forgot one other tidbit. Saddam used chemical weapons on Iran during their nasty war in the 80’s which was in a sense a proxy war between the US and the USSR (part of our ongoing support of dictators if they didn’t align themselves with the Soviet Union). So, he had a ton to use and decided to use them on the Kurds after he gassed the Iranians.

        • jroberts548

          True. In fact, we went as far as to give Saddam those weapons, continued to give him weapons after he used them, and opposed Iran’s attempt at getting the UN to condemn Iraq’s use of chemical weapons.

    • No. Saddam was profoundly corrupting the international stage with oil-for-food bribery and providing a blueprint to rot out the whole thing to anyone who was paying attention.

      The no-fly zones and Iraqi sanctions were not even medium term tenable. Today we’d have one of Saddam’s psychopathic kids in charge. It would be like the Kim family but with money.

  • Anon


    You’ve bought into the MSM marketing of the Iraqi crisis. Decisions to go to war a made in moment in time when information is imperfect. It only improves with time as objectives are met. If you still believe Iraq had no purpose, ask Israel and Iraqi neighbors if us being there was beneficial. It was.. Homicide bombings went down dramatically without the Hussein money supporting it. Iraq did form a democratic government that with its problems was improving the Iraqi lot. As to WMDs, that was one of 33 reasons cited and one that history may/may not show as more accurate than is being reported today. Overall, our involvement is and was a net gain.

    Unfortunately, those same authors of misinformation and efforts to destroy any legacy of GW Bush got the outcome they’ve desired. We capitulated in Iraq and are doing so in Afghanistan. This is the problem. It led to a failed STOF agreement. It blew our leverage in the Middle East. Then our leaders drew a red line and failed to step up to the plate. This is where the power of ISIS/ISIL comes from today. They know we won’t do anything. It is not because we went into Iraq in 2003, its because we abandoned it in 2012.

    • Willard

      Unlike this ridiculous conservative rewriting of history, the actual truth is that there were as many as 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq before our invasion in 2003.

      By June 2007, the UNHCR estimated that 2.2 million Iraqis had been displaced to neighbouring countries with a large majority of them Christians, and 2 million were displaced internally, with nearly 100,000 Iraqis fleeing to Syria and Jordan each month”.

      • Mike

        How exactly does that address what Anon said? I think they actually had a point that does not dispute your irrelevant facts. The truth is that the western provinces were the last to show any sense of peace following the 2003 invasion. The Kurdish are the ones protecting the Christians, not the “Christian” nation. Shoot, we won’t even send them bullets.

        • Willard

          Because there is this myth going around that everything was just going great in Iraq when we left. The “irrelevant facts” show that already by 2007 millions of Iraqi Christians had been forced to leave the country they had lived in for 2000 years.

          • The original Mr. X

            Nobody’s denying that. It is, however, fairly undeniable that the situation had stabilised by the time Bush left office, and that it deteriorated after Obama pulled American troops out of the area. Does that mean that everything in Iraq was all hunky-dory the moment Saddam was overthrown? No, of course not. But the worst of the violence was over by 2008 — or would have been, if the Obama Administration had kept to anything resembling a sensible foreign policy.

            • HornOrSilk

              The point is, people said before Bush got in, there is no way it would be stable unless we stayed there as an occupying force. And if we went in to stay, then it was an invasion and takeover and empire building, which Bush said he wasn’t going to do and the world would not accept. So, going in, was going to produce this result. Period.

              • The original Mr. X

                So was Bush planning to withdraw the 10,000 troops from Iraq? I’m not a supporter of his original invasion, but let’s not get sucked into a faux-impartial round of “They’re all as a bad as each other!” Bush’s decision to invade Iraq was a bad one, but the worst was over by the time he left office. The current situation, and the fact that we’ll probably have to invade again within a couple of years, are both the fault of Obama.

    • Joe

      This is absurd. There were UN weapons inspectors all over the country NOT finding WMDs, despite all the info we gave them. And they were in the process of destroying the illegal missiles Saddam had build. There was no need to go into Iraq.

  • Peggy

    Once the baton was handed to Barry he had the responsibility to leave Iraq in a sensible way. If he was going to “right the wrong” under W Bush, then it is his to get right. Under W Bush Iraq was not perfect; Christians were not protected enough, I agree. I see Obama cares so much! Iraq was getting basic utilities set up to all parts of the nation, in addition to the general political stability.

    Now today Obama denies that it was his call to leave Iraq. He dumps it on Iraqi leaders. After all his bragging about bringing home troops. Bush’s team warned against a fast and announced pull-out. It falls on Barry, “I didn’t know this would happen”


    Obama also denies amazingly it was his and his female cabinet members’ decision to ouster Quaddafi which led to great instability in Libya. He didn’t know it would get so bad, again, there.


    • Petey

      oh those female cabinet members.
      might GWB have been better off without C. Rice?

      • Peggy

        It is a fact, if you check. The women were pushing. Lots of press on it. I won’t claim C Rice was the greatest. She had her failings. She is indeed, however, a very accomplished and intelligent woman. I’ll reserve judgment on O’s women.

        A proud anti-feminist woman.

        • Petey

          you do the checking for me, OK? you’re making the assertion.
          and G’s woman is every bit as accomplished as the members of the current president’s cabinet have been.

          • Peggy

            Even the liberal (not MSM) press noted the women pushing for Libya involvement.


            I forgot Hillary’s the “Smartest Woman Evah” (TM). I am not asserting anything about O’s women.. I don’t know much about them, except that I have rarely agreed with what they say.

            • Petey

              please click that link.
              I’m asserting that G’s woman is every bit as intelligent and accomplished as the members of Mr Obama’s cabinet. you’d have to be intelligent and accomplished to administer those portfolios, questions of policy aside. just see Mrs. Thatcher.
              and why do you think that H. Clinton is the smartest woman ever?

              • Peggy

                Who is G? I thought it was a typo and you meant O.

                I don’t think HRC is the smartest woman ever. That is a joke b/c that’s how she’s been billed for 20 years now. I think we’ve seen smarter women.

                I don’t know why you want me to click the link I provided to document O’s women agitating for Libya involvement.

                • Petey

                  G’s woman agitated for Iraqi involvement. it seems the gender of policymakers is significant to you so I pointed that out, and mocked you by using your own sleazy terminology.
                  H. Clinton has been called the smartest woman ever by no one except right wingers who want to manufacture something to attack.
                  and I’ve grown weary of playing your puerile game.

                  • Peggy

                    I’m finished too. I still don’t know who G is. I am not certain of what you are arguing.

                    Libya is a mess b/c HRC and other women pushed O to topple Quaddafi. The liberal media made it an issue as if it were women who were holding the moral high ground or were wiser…or SOMETHING. I don’t know. I didn’t make it a story.

                    While taking out Saddam created instability, W and his people (male and female) took responsibility to limit the instability and did leave O with a largely stable Iraq. My primary criticism that I have always held is that W did not look out for the Christians well enough, if at all.

  • Dave G.

    “It also means that the people we want to help are going to die in large numbers.”

    It would seem that’s all the reason we need to oppose it.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      This. Mark, I share your disgust and rage at ISIS, and regret my own support of our invasion of Iraq. You sound a bit too gung-ho about military action the last few days, though. As Dave G. points out, if large numbers of the people we purportedly want to help are going to die because of our involvement, then it is possibly against the proportionality component of jus ad bellum.

      It may be the right thing to use some kind of force in Iraq, but I won’t be railroaded into cheering for it so quickly again.

  • Joe

    Far from being a cheerleader for war, I think giving the Kurds better
    weaponry and giving them some air support is a good thing. I don’t
    really support ground troops, unless it was limited spec ops. ISIS is a genocidal
    civilization-destroying force, not entirely unlike the Nazis (though they don’t pose a threat to us). This isn’t like Saddam, this is different.

    Compared to the rest of Iraq, the Kurds have built for themselves a functioning government and society. They
    have fought hard and accepted refugees without question. They deserve a
    fighting chance to turn the tide on ISIS, or in the least neutralize the threat to themselves. They have been our staunchest
    allies, even when we haven’t necessarily reciprocated. They also have a
    reasonable chance of winning. From the Kurd point of view, theirs is a
    just war. They have a right to defend their homeland and all the refugees they accepted. They deserve our aid.

    • Des Farrell

      I agree with you. Either we do nothing and communities get slaughtered or we do something and those who choose murder will die. Nobody here wants death and I respect the opinion of Catholics who are pacifists but in my opinion the innocent must be protected. And that means killing. It’s a nasty business but this time it’s not about oil.

  • tj.nelson

    I agree with your thoughts on the Bush administration – I still think Bush was out to avenge his dad and placate the Saudi royal family. Crazy as it may sound.

    Now I’m thinking ISIS may be part of the thugs we trained and armed to help overthrow Assad.

    Our hands are covered with blood.

    We need to repent and pray and we need to do what we can to free these people – Muslim and Christian – from this tyranny.

    I can’t get over the photos of the children and women and the beheaded men. This is anti-Christ stuff.

    • Petey

      I think you’re right about Bush’s psychological motivation. it was never about oil, saddam was already in Bush’s sights as he waited for an excuse, the neighboring countries didn’t want it, not to mention the transparent propaganda about WMD and al Qaeda. it was psychological, whether it wss to avenge his dad or top him, and it fit in with the rightwing liberalism of the neocons.

  • Petey
  • Ben Govero

    It would be helpful for us to be humbled and realize that our bombs, no matter how powerful, and our military, no matter how well trained, cannot solve all of the world’s problems. They especially can’t bring about peace in a situation that is – in some part – a retaliation for previous American military action.

    “We pray, God acts” John Paul II once said. That’s the route I’m going.

    • Mike Blackadder

      I think that we should try to get these people out before they are annihilated. It’s easy to say you don’t support using bombs/military for this purpose when 1) it’s not you who is facing genocide and 2) when someone else (ie. the president and others) are already taking the initiative to do something.

      I think it would also be helpful for us to be humbled and realize that sitting back and philosophizing to reach a non-decision is ALSO a consequential decision and cannot solve ANY of the world’s problems. The complete withdrawal of American military presence in Iraq has not been met with a response of reduced violence or the diminishing of radical influence, which is what has been advocated by those calling for American withdrawal and the apology campaign, but the reality is that we see the opposite effect.

      Radical Islam obviously does not require the intervention of America in order to exist. Sensible Americans and Christians ought to stop peddling that nonsense.

  • jenny

    God have mercy….

  • Elmwood

    the turks bomb the kurds, we support the turks and the arabs in saudi who probably finance most of the anti-christian fundamentalism in the middle east. it’s not just what GW did, it’s our entire foreign policy which is to blame.

    my guess is that because we are mostly a WASP/protestant nation, most of our elected officials care less about darker skinned catholics and orthodox getting slaughtered in the middle east–they even lynched italians down south!

    • Dave G.

      Since our current response was triggered by the assault declared against an ethnic minority rather than the ongoing assault against a religious group, it probably has less to do with the color of the skin than it does the lack of interest in anything that doesn’t have to do with race. My guess is that it’s like most things today: it’s only important if it fits a narrative or an agenda. Something I don’t think is necessarily confined to WASPs or the Protestant side of our nation.

      • kirthigdon

        The Yazedis, a small religious minority within the Kurdish ethnic minority are just the type of exotic group on whose behalf liberals will go to war. They’re no threat and cute enough to be pets. Iraqi Christians are the very temporary collateral beneficiaries of Obomber’s restart of the Iraq war, but will be long range losers along with any other peaceful people in the region.

        Kirt Higdon

        • Elijah fan

          And the Yazedis on a surrounded mountain top is a very media/ artistic symbol that focused Obama’s attention whereas Christians fleeing north in disparate groups does not have the artistic focus element….where are they…they might be safe and exiting into another country. The mountain top Yazedi situation blocked all doubts….all rationalizations to do nothing. It had art and symbolism on its side. The beheaded young girl of Mosul probably made the decision too. ” He has mercy on whom He has mercy and whom he wills He hardens.” If God hardens those who beheaded her, eternity of real suffering awaits those men…not dates with houri.

      • Elmwood

        i just can’t understand why there isn’t more outrage and concern shown by our elective officials about the plight of Christians in iraq and syria. why haven’t we given all these persecuted minorities asylum?

        • Dave G.

          Or in other parts of the world for that matter. Again I get the increasingly creepy feeling that human suffering only matters if it fits the narrative or advances the agenda.

    • A good chunk of the problem in the Middle East is that if you have too high a standard in allies there, you end up with no allies, no influence, and no ability to exert positive change in the area. The Turks do, indeed, bomb the kurds. Abandoning Turkey, who should we seek as an alternate ally to fulfill the role Turkey played? All the other alternatives are worse.

      The role of foreign policy is to gain influence in foreign lands to further national policy. You pick the best allies you can but friends are something that it is not wise to do without.

      • Elmwood

        Why support turkey or Saudis who don’t support religious freedom? The ecumenical patriarch can’t open a seminary in Constantinople. Aren’t you byzantine catholic?

        Not sure why we choose the seat of fundamentalist Islam over the bath party.

        • Yes, the ecumenical patriarch can’t open a seminary in Constantinople (though usually I’m not irredentist enough to skip the modern name, Istanbul). Yes, that ticks me off. Don’t be childish, though.

          Do you know how Russia gained a chunk of Moldova? It fought a war with the Ottoman empire, was getting its tail kicked and raised the banner of christendom. Romanians answered the call, helped turn the tide, and in the peace treaty lost territory to our fellow christian allies, Russia. An understanding of history has inoculated me well against simplistic sucker appeals.

          The reason why we chose the Saudis over the Ba’ath was simple. Ba’ath were ideologically dictatorial and socialist but you could cut a deal with the Saudis. We’ve been cutting corrupt deals with them since at least FDR because when you have your choice of bad men, pick the bad man that can be bought, not the true believer. Ever since those original deals it’s all been ‘nice doggie’ while we search for a rock, decades of it. As we get to the end game of the age of oil, both sides of the KSA/USA relationship are rethinking things.

          Update: the Halki closure, as in very many things byzantine, has a surprising history. I do thank you for turning my attention to it and recommend you read up on the details. They matter.

          • Elmwood

            i still don’t get it. who cares if they are socialist if they protect catholics/christians if the alternative is persecution? Saudi and Turkey don’t–you can’t bring a bible into Saudi. I could bring one into Syria and Iraq under the bath.

            Russia isn’t perfect either by any means but at least they tolerate R.C., maybe not so much with the eastern catholics.

            Our loyalty should be first to our fellow Catholics and not the cult of mammon and mars that is the US government.

            • You don’t get it? The Roman persecutions must really puzzle you then. All the christians had to do was burn a little incense. That’s much less of a compromise than signing on with the Ba’ath demands.

              I don’t condemn those christians who saved their skins and weren’t able to go the martyr route, just like I don’t condemn the Orthodox who went along with the Romanian communists. That’s somebody else’s job.

              I got bought out of bondage when I was 2 years old by Richard Nixon. I was lucky. I don’t get to have strong opinions on the people who weren’t so lucky. I have no idea how I would choose if I were put in such a tough spot and I pray I am never tested that badly.

              Of the four nations you mention, their religious liberty respect is, in order, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, KSA.

              But you are at least as down on Turkey as you are on KSA which makes me doubt that religious liberty is actually animating you.

  • Annie

    As one of the few orthodox/conservative American Catholics who listened to St. Pope John II about this disastrous war, I don’t think we’re seeing enough repentance from American Catholics for their support of the war. I remember the buildup to the war when we were dismissed as liberals for listening to our Pope and opposing the invasion.

    Now my FB feed is full of ranting posts from orthodox/conservative Catholics blaming Obama for what is going on in Mosul.

    After the invasion I learned about Americanism which explains everything, IMHO. The American Catholic Church is plagued by that heresy on both sides of every issue.

    This is all pretty simple. Back in 2003 and 2004, our Pope cautioned against the invasion. I can’t remember the exact words he used but they were strong. He didn’t claim infallibility but good Catholics look to the guidance of their Pope before their president or Fox News. But orthodox/conservative Catholics ignored what the Pope said. They twisted his words. They dismissed the sufferings of their fellow Catholics in Iraq. I remember hearing Iraqi Christians called “useful idiots.” I remember the accusations that Iraqi Christians were collaborators with Hussein so their suffering didn’t matter. I heard that an Iraqi bishop was booed when he talked about how his flock had suffered about the invasion. Booed while giving a talk to American Catholics.

    American Catholics must repent for their support of this invasion.

    • When Obama torpedoed the status of forces negotiations and pulled out of Iraq, ISIS didn’t exist and Al Queda in Iraq was well on its way to being eliminated. To justifiably say that American Catholics must repent for their support of the war, you have to make the case that the loss of ground that followed that activity was somehow inevitable and a consequence of the war. I don’t think that you honestly can. You certainly haven’t tried to do it yet.

      • Sheila C.

        Certainly no one has yet explained how Obama (or whoever you would have preferred to see as president) could have prevented the ensuing chaos. Stay in Iraq permanently, against the will of the Iraqis? They did, after all, demand that we leave. What was the plan after that?

        Taking out Saddam was easy. Establishing lasting democracy in Iraq is difficult, perhaps impossible. No one has yet explained how we could have done that.

        • If you haven’t seen the abundant critiques, I’ll give you a precis. It’s called successfully negotiating a new SoFA and keeping sufficient troops in Iraq to continue the Iraqi military acculturation as an organization that pays its troops on time, doesn’t steal from them, and has a cohesive culture that doesn’t much care how you pray or whether you are arab or kurd.

          You are not actually correct that they demanded that we leave. There was plenty of press coverage at the time of Iraqi shock over how Obama took a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude over the SoFA. They blustered and postured, counting on america to bend a bit on SoFA conditions and Obama just picked up his ball and went home. It probably scared the Japanese and Korean governments to no end (they have their own SoFA). The arab bargaining style met Obama’s disengagement and the results just were not pretty.

          Had ISIS still attempted the operations they are currently running in Iraq while we were still there, if the high officer corps still started looking around for the exits there would have been two critical differences. There would be high ranking americans who were not running away (a fact that might have shamed some of the Iraqi officers into staying) and when the lower ranks called headquarters somebody would have picked up the phone (if nobody else, the american advisors). That would have reduced the melting away of the army and would likely have made a significant difference in outcome.

          Also, the presence of US forces would have meant very early heavy air bombardment which meant that ISIS could not have moved in large troop columns which is how it gained ground so fast. They would have been decimated by US airpower right out of the gate.

          We seem to have stayed long enough that Maliki couldn’t quite pull off a coup this week. He didn’t have enough military support. At least we accomplished that. That is an achievement not to be discounted.

  • erin

    “I can’t stand the horrors these monsters are committing.” But you were willing to withstand Saddam Hussein’s? Monsters exist everywhere, especially, it would seem, in the Middle East and Africa, and within Islam. There is no faithful answer to any of this that does not involve massive martyrdom — but how can you ask someone to be a martyr? And what is the level of responsibility of a leader to providing protection? How do you ethically protect people against organizations that will stop at nothing but extermination without stepping into a pile of unjustified means for the desired end?
    I ask honestly. Because you seem to be letting ISIS off the hook for their actions with your blame. And the history of Iraq hardly seems tranquil. Long before Bush and Cheney arrived with their bombs, the Jews and Christians of Iraq were facing genocide from their Muslim countrymen. The truth is far more complicated, it seems to me.

    • Petey

      the denial is strong

    • chezami

      “Long before Bush and Cheney arrived with their bombs, the Jews and Christians of Iraq were facing genocide from their Muslim countrymen. ”


    • Mike Blackadder

      Hussein conducted his own version of genocide, but I don’t know if he applied particular attention to Christians. His violence and oppression seemed to stem from motivations of raw power, striking at those who he felt opposed his power, as opposed to being motivated by ethnic/religious cleansing. The Kurds who he massacred in the north were accused of conspiring against him in the Iran Iraq war.

      Certainly individual Christians and Jews faced violence from Muslims when living in Iraq, but the void left by a murderous dictator and lack of security that ensued opened the door to a more committed enemy of Christianity in the region.

      • The DTs can look much more horrific than someone quietly drinking themselves to death.

        Iraq, like most of the Middle East, was in a dead end that was not sustainable and was deadly dangerous.

        • Mike Blackadder

          I totally agree. To me, it is not the fact that the US invaded Iraq that was particularly shameful, but the fact that they didn’t succeed in maintaining peace, particularly after Obama took over the reigns. All those supposed allies who left America to handle Iraq on their own, and all those who opposed the mission of defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq and called for hasty withdrawal was not at all helpful to achieving that objective.

    • jroberts548

      How does identifying the ways we’ve contributed to ISIS let ISIS off the hook?

  • SlapStitch

    This situation wasn’t caused by George W., your favorite whipping boy. It was caused by Mohammed and the religion he invented; feminism; and John Paul II. Which have turned the men of the West into moral pansies who can’t recognize anything worth fighting for, most importantly, faith on the homefront. You’re unlikely to critique any of these.

    • silicasandra

      “One of these things is not like the others…”

    • chezami

      Says the guy writing from his mom’s basement who is too afraid to leave his name or a valid email address. The courage of the chickenhawk is breathtaking.

      And “feminism”? Manhood issues much?

    • I suggest you study the role of John Paul II in the downfall of communism. Before he had any power to protect himself, he risked martyrdom to preserve the faith in Poland and when he did get power, he used it deftly to push in the right direction and help topple the beast. That amply documented series of events is not compatible with your description of someone who turns men into moral pansies.

      The weakest link in the case for the Iraq war, and I’ve been supporting it in these pages and elsewhere for years, was that John Paul II was against it. It gives one pause, and it should give one pause.

  • KM

    Here’s the main problem America faces with bombing ISIS, besides the problems that Mark pointed out:

    This means America has an obligation to bomb other groups for their brutality against humanity, including Mexican gangs for beheading innocent victims (many of them Catholic) in the ongoing drug cartel wars, Boko Haram for their kidnapping and rape of little girls, the State of Israel *and* Hamas for both sides’ killing of innocent children (aka Human Shields), and American inner city gangs all over America for the innocent children killed accidentally in gang wars, to name just a few examples off the top of my head.

    Really, where would this end? If immoral America has a moral obligation to end brutality by killing people who commit brutality, then we’ll be bombing ourselves and the whole world at some point.

    Yes to humanitarian aid and prayer, and to an international solution to these ongoing disasters. No to endless violence that America helped create and perpetuate.

    • If you are strategically blind, the tactical moves will never make sense.

      It is impolitic for a US president to lay out the reason why the Middle East is special, unique really. The Middle East is unique in creating a mutually reinforcing web of dictatorship. Bombing is a famously inexact science, though much better than it used to be. To justify such a solution you need a problem that is not fixable by less inexact means and a ticking clock that gives you a deadline that makes waiting irresponsible.

      The justification for bombing is not that ISIS is doing bad things, but that ISIS is undoing the democratic solvent that Iraq has been drip, drip, dripping all over its Middle East brethren, making their own dictatorships less viable and forcing them on the road to a reform that connects their people so the broad web of our global civilization includes them too.

      • Petey

        holy moly.

  • Jim Dailey

    Blaming Bush. Really. I have news for all you people. Obama and company have had plenty of time to clean this up. Thye have proven themselves to be incompetent nitwits in a way that makes Bush and company look like premier statesmen. Your incessant blaming of Bush is nothing more than avoiding the problem at hand – a problem that was created solely by the dopes currently occupying the Executive Branch.
    Sorry, you are not weaseling out on some old saw about Bush. You better focus on the problem you have created.

    • HornOrSilk

      You are clueless to the damage done in the region due to Bush. It was said, long before Bush went in, this would be the long term effect, and it would not be fixable. No matter how long we stayed, it was said, this would happen when we left. And we would have to leave, we can’t just take over.

      This notion that Obama has had “plenty of time” ignores real world situations and how difficult it is to fix war-torn regions when we made.

      • The question that the anti-war side has thus far been absolutely allergic to was whether the status quo was sustainable (hint: it wasn’t) and whether there was a less messy way to fix things than the war (hint: there wasn’t).

        In all the barrels of ink spilled about spurious 9/11 connections and Iraq, this is the actual connection. 9/11 woke up the political class and forced them to confront the fact that we had set up a world that was empowering individuals in general but had tremendously disconnected and dangerous areas that would throw off an ever increasing number of 9/11 type shocks until the whole edifice comes crashing down in general collapse of civilization. We cannot guard our trash heaps for technological leakage to crazy town.

        The Bush solution was to pick a fulcrum point that would break apart the most dangerous mess, that of the Middle East, and to support Africa, the world’s second most dangerous mess, in growing out of the morass of poor governance that had trapped it. The two moves are all of a piece and President Obama has squandered both legacies.

        Go find a better solution. I’ve been looking for one for a decade and have yet to find it.

        • HornOrSilk

          Bush planned to go to war with Iraq before 9-11. Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11, and Bush was more interested in revenge than dealing with the real issue: Bin Laden was ignored for his vendetta against Saddam. If 9-11 was the key, he would have focused on Bin Laden and Afghanistan. He constantly avoided that to go into Iraq, contrary to the Church (and the Christians in Iraq). The situation is the result of Bush’s bloodthirsty desire to take on Saddam, the truth be damned. Bush’s legacy was making chaos, and you keep defending the indefensible. Bush did exactly the same thing as militants. This is evil.

          • Looking… nope, no better solution offered. So ultimately it’s not a serious response.

            The unsustainability of the Iraq situation *was* visible to a minority of politicians prior to 9/11, most importantly by VP Cheney. You’re not giving any argument on what we should have done instead.

            Should we have lifted sanctions, continued the no-fly zones forever, or invaded? Those were the three mainstream options on the table but your observations yield no clue as to what you support, likely because if you pick one, you’d have to defend all the negative consequences of that choice. Refusing to pick an actual policy to defend is the very definition of unserious.

      • Jim Dailey

        Your notion that Obama and company’s meddling has done anything by exacerbate the age old problems in the Middle East speaks to “clueless.” When Bush left office, there were pictures of Iraqis holding up fingers dipped in blue ink – evidence that they had voted in an orderly, democratic election. Was it perfect? Not by any means. However, I think it is fair to say that we are now decades away from pictures of any Iraqi people – much less women and minorities – voting in a democratic process.
        This was the “change” wrought by the Obama administration. All advances in the area have been squandered, all the American lives sacrificed in an attempt to bring pluralistic democracy to that area have been wasted. All our national treasure is depleted.
        The idea that people are still willing to blame Bush for these issues – going so far as to advance the idea that Bush could somehow have mustered the cold blooded, scheming, self-interested slimeballs that populate the house and senate into backing a personal vendetta is simply childish.
        Sorry. It is time for the grown ups to take over management of this problem.

        • HornOrSilk

          The fact that there was “voting” during Bush’s era doesn’t mean order has been restored in Iraq. Again, before he went in, it was said once we pull out, the place would fall apart. We could create a military police state with our power, but it would not solve the problems. We hit a hornet’s nest. Obama is not at fault for that. You confuse so many issues, ignoring what was said would happen has happened, blaming the person who was stuck with the hot potato. Talk about telling people to grow up — your attitude is exactly the kind which ignores the real damage we did. And you want a scapegoat with Obama. No. This does not get put on him. Other things like Libya, yes. This. No.

          • Jim Dailey

            Presumably we elect our public officials based on our belief in their capacity to deal with problems. Predicting that there will be problems tomorrow is about as trite as predicting that the sun will come up.
            Your very assertion that we knew there would be problems in Iraq really amplifies the failures of Obama. That is, you did not need to be a rocket scientist to know that Iraq would be a problem. The fact that Obama has taken six years, all the accumulated expertise of the military and the State Department, and turned it into the – dare I say it – quagmire we see today bespeaks the leadership qualities of Obama and his cronies.
            However, when Obama inherited the problems that is Iraq, there was relative peace and tranquility in Iraq. Again, I merely point to crowds of enthusiastic Iraqis leaving polling places holding up inked fingers. Al Quaeda was hiding in a cave in Pakistan. Syria, Libya and the West Bank were all quiet.
            So tell me, are hings better or worse from the days of inked stained fingers? And who was in charge during these years?

          • Mike Blackadder

            Obama was handed Iraq in such condition that Obama was very happy to claim victory in place of his predecessor. It was Bush who argued the necessity of the Long War against terrorism that Obama and pals deny tooth and nail.

            It’s incredible how Obama apologists like HornOrSilk absolutely refuse to hold him accountable for anything that he does. He ran for president on a platform that he had a competent plan for dealing with America’s ‘oversea conflicts’, but apparently he did not. Apparently Obama’s vision of apologizing to Muslim countries for having waged war against terrorists, of promoting the influence of the Muslim brotherhood, of abiding attacks on America as was done in Libya without consequence, of returning captured terrorists back into the field rather than detain them, and broadcasting a narrative of America’s withdrawal from the region as a matter of policy was actually NOT a good way to deal with what used to be called ‘The War on Terrorism’, which is now ‘Overseas Contingency Operations’.

            This idea that ONLY Saddam Hussein and no other force could maintain ‘peace’ is nonsensical and is one of those after-the-fact assertions. It’s a HornOrSilk Hail Mary to try to salvage the argument that despite 6 years of failed Obsma foreign policy that it’s still Bush’s fault. Just so you know, everyone on this side knew that Obama version of foreign policy, of ignoring the war on terror would have disastrous consequences and it clearly has.

          • The scare quotes around voting is something that tyrant fanboys usually pull. Also tyrant fanboys are obsessed with order to the exclusion of other values. So where are you coming from, HornOrSilk?

            Maliki came at Obama with the negotiating tactics of the bazaar on the SoFA agreement that would keep US troops in Iraq. He had done it before and when it was Bush’s turn, the agreement was signed and an accommodation was reached. When it was Obama’s turn to negotiate, he simply left Maliki hanging and said ‘see ya’. That specific performance is Obama’s responsibility and not Bush’s. It was a bucket of water to the face that said, you want to play games, play them on your own.

            Now we might be getting back into Iraq with a favorable SoFA written in the blood of ISIS victims. It is very likely that the Iraqis wouldn’t try that bazaar style negotiating tactic again. All that Iraqi blood to safeguard american troops from Iraqi lawfare and extortion attempts (which has been the sticking point the past two SoFA extensions). If that’s something you’re comfortable endorsing, fine. Pardon me for being horrified at the cost and wishing we had a president as competent as GW Bush negotiating instead who got the deal done without the bloodshed.

        • Petey

          just like they did in 2003.

      • Mike Blackadder

        Obama and his ilk were screaming to abandon Iraq just as soon as we got there. When the troop surge was working they called Petraus a liar and advocated for withdrawal. Withdrawal and the entire approach of this administration of NOT dealing with radical Islam and terrorism is an epic failure.

        The narrative that it is America operating in the Mideast that draws terrorism to these region is verifiably false. All you have is to keep trying to blame Bush because it worked the last 100 times you tried it, but it’s obviously whose policy is actually responsible for the resurgence of violence in Iraq.

  • Mike

    We should have never left Iraq; we’ve been in Japan and Germany for going on 80 years; McCain was right; we should be in Iraq permanently.