‘US involvement in Iraq must be part of regional coalition's efforts’
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. He wrote a memoir of the five years he spent in Hollywood, where he worked in the movie industry prior to becoming a full time and activist and organizer with the US antiwar movement post-9/11. The book is titled Dreams That Die and is published by Zero Books. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
RT:We’ve recently heard from the White
House that they could be ready to deploy the military in Iraq –
but only once a new inclusive government is formed. How does that
stand with President Obama’s assurances that there will not be
boots on the ground?
John Wight: Well, isn’t it ironic that just three years after the US left Iraq in a worse state in which they found it, we’re now contemplating US troops returning to Iraq in large numbers. Only those who have had their humanity surgically removed could fail to be moved by the plight of these poor people in northern Iraq right now. And as such, any efforts to alleviate their plight in the short term must be welcomed. However, the cause of a problem can never be its solution going forward, and that is why Washington’s role here must be as part of a coalition and certainly not taking charge of any military action. So I would suggest that they go to the UN, remember the UN? They were supposed to be the arbitrator of international law, it seems to be bypassed more and more by the West and its allies. To get a grand coalition, which would have to include Russia, would have to include China, would have to include Iran, would have to include all the state actors in the region who have a role to play and really have to look at the reorientation of western foreign policy in the Middle East that has to take place because right now we have a situation where the West is opposing ISIS rebels in northern Iraq, and rightly so, but has been tacitly or implicitly supporting them in Syria. It’s madness.
RT:I want to pick up on that, because the Free Syrian Army, as part of the Syrian opposition, they’ve pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State. This Syrian opposition, it’s a force that was long supported and nurtured by the US, so do we not see a situation now where the US is actually having to turn its sights on a force that it was actually rearing for quite a long period?
JW: Absolutely. The entire focus of US/Western foreign policy in the region has been to isolate Syria, isolate Iran, and bolster Israel, and that’s now blown back in their faces. So if they are interested in alleviating and putting out the fire that is raging across the Middle East, they have to understand that the divide in the region is not between Sunni and Shia, it’s not between Muslim and non-Muslim, it’s between sectarian and non-sectarian. So their role must be to isolate sectarian forces and to bolster non-sectarian forces. So they have to also look at their relationship with the Saudi Arabians, the Qataris, the Kuwaitis, the Gulf States who are fomenting and funding this chaos in the region and have been for quite a number of years now.
RT:American taxpayers already bore the brunt of a very expensive war in Iraq the last time. Do you think they will be ready to pay for this violence and the expense once again?
JW: Certainly not. Here we see the growing disconnect between the American public and the political class in Washington. When it comes to war, when it comes to subverting regimes across the world, when it comes to going to war in service to US corporate business interests, there seems to be a limitless amount of money within the US government. But when it comes to alleviating poverty, the growing inequality in the US, Detroit is bankrupt, there are third world levels of poverty in most American cities, there’s no money. So I don’t think the Obama administration has much weight and much credibility with regard to putting boots on the ground or engaging in the sustained military effort in the region – or anywhere else for that matter.
RT:ISIS has been calling on its members to target all-encompassing US interests worldwide. The US has been very vocal about its war on terror. Do you think that it’s perhaps coming back to haunt them to an extent?
JW: It clearly is. Since 9/11, the path taken by the George W. Bush administration has been an absolute disaster for the US, for the West, but certainly for millions of people in the Middle East, who are suffering the depredations of the chaos that’s being sawn. And so as I said, there has to be a major reorientation of Western foreign policy towards the region. This short-termist idea that you can play with fire, that you can grab a tiger by the tail – that you can support rebels and fanatics and then, hopefully, they’ll go away, is clearly unraveling before our eyes. So unless there is a major reorientation, the chaos will get worse. There has to be an end to the hypocrisy and double standards, support for the apartheid state of Israel and its massacre of women and children in Gaza as we speak attempts to undermine one of the only non-sectarian governments in the region – the Syrian government – and supporting proxies, whether it’s in Ukraine, or whether it is anywhere else in the world – this must come to an end.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.