‘Sending troops back to Iraq is insanity’
RT:Do you believe there's a conflict in the White House over the US and coalition anti-ISIS strategy?
Tighe Barry: There is a conflict within the White House, within Congress. The leaders of our country today don’t know which way to turn. They have had a completely failed policy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and various other countries; they are reaching out and just trying to play whack-a-mole. This policy is not working. They need a grand strategy, they won’t get a grand strategy without including the voices of those on the peacemakers’ side. There are many people in this country that have the intelligence to work out the situation that we can politically get rid of a group like ISIS, where we can politically bring peace to places like Iraq, where if the US continues to back despotic leaders, prop up despotic leaders for 30-40 years and help them out, continue with this policy of torture, of jailing people in places like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib - this policy will look to the people that are fighting the people in the US and this coalition as if they are being invaded by a horde of haters, a crusade. I think that inside the White House there is much conflict, Secretary of State John Kerry has a different view, the president and even secretary of defense has a different view, General Dempsey has a different view, and they all are trying to figure out how just to whack this one mole and they can’t do it.
RT:Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey acknowledged at Thursday’s hearing before Congress that anti-ISIS operation will require roughly 80,000 US-trained local forces. Basically, it means that US involvement will be much larger and longer than it was supposed. What’s your take on this?
TB: Absolutely! General Dempsey is not being naïve, and this is why the so-called hawks in Congress are trying to lead General Dempsey [to] commit the US to more boots on the ground. There are troops already, up to 3,800 that we know about because the US government has never been honest about troops throughout these 14 years of crusade in the Middle East. What we do know is that there are pilots and helicopter pilots there. And should one of these pilots go down, US troops will go in to save this person, they will be fired at and they will suddenly become combat troops. This will lead to the next domino – “We need these troops to defend those troops,” which means we are going to fund this war. The American public is wary of endless war, we are tired of sponsoring, of destroying our own economy to sponsor the military which is ill-equipped to fight. This is a political battle that needs to be fought by intelligent people, people that know how to use their politics and their minds to get us into the position where we can agree to find other peaceful means, to find the ends to these conflicts.
RT:What does the US public think about military operations in Iraq and Syria? Would it be difficult to get the public onside in this matter?
TB: It’s so easy to persuade American people right now. One year ago, I was sleeping on the streets in front of Congress and we stopped the war in Syria. These days all you need to do is to show a beheading video and now we are going to go to war once again with a mysterious group that we know nothing about. American public is unaware of what the real grievances are. Just like anyone who has been attacked, their families have been killed, their villages destroyed, they are angry and they want their voices heard. These are the political solutions I’m talking about. We can’t bring these people to the table, we can’t talk to them. But what the American public is hearing is, “You are in danger.” I heard a congressman in hearing today say: “We will all be beheaded if we don’t fight ISIS right now”. These people are ignorant, they are trying to sell their military equipment and power, they are not looking out for the best interest of Americans that are saying “no” to this war.
Journalist and political analyst Wissam Al Bayati on the US military operation against the IS:“The US has been forced to withdraw from Iraq… that withdrawal was a kind of slap on the face. Therefore they have been trying to return to the country by any means. The refusal of the Iraqi government [to sign a US-Iraq security pact] during the Maliki era has actually forced them to intervene politically by supporting some terrorist groups across the country. After the formation of ISIS, they had a golden opportunity to intervene in Iraq not only politically but even militarily.”
RT:How likely is it that the US will end up sending combat troops intoIraq again? If America's aim really is destroying ISIS, shouldn't it consider looking to Assad’s government and Iran?
TB: This is not our war. We are saying “no more war”, “no more boots on the ground”, “get these so-called advisers” as it was how they started the war in Vietnam; we are saying “no more” to this. We are not being sucked into this, [we have been] trying to push the American government to stop these crazy out-of-control wars. We finally have got our troops out of there and now they want to put them right back in. This is insanity. The definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same bad results. The US people are tired of this and we believe that working with the government in Syria, finding a political solution to that problem, working with the people in northern Syria, working with the Iraqi government, working with the Iranians, working with the people in the region, talking to Turkey as if it was a sovereign nation and not the puppet of the US, having everybody come to the table – these are political solutions. But it can’t be done by a country whose first reaction to a video is to bomb. We have bombed thousands of times so far in Syria, in Iraq, and we have killed only 200 supposedly of their military personnel. This is a crazy war, we need to use the best minds in the world to end these conflicts once and for all, bring peace to the Middle East, solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, solve the conflict in Syria, allow the Syrian people and President Assad to come to the table and talk. And we can do this, we have the capability. We are America, supposedly we are very courageous; we should be able to be courageous enough to bring people to the table and not be the only voice at the table.
RT:What is causing the US to reconsider its policy on the Islamic State? (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)
TB: I don’t know if it has a policy on the IS. Assad said from the very beginning that he was fighting terrorism, and it has become quite clear that Assad was actually fighting terrorism. Not that it was a legitimate argument for the people of Syria - they wanted more freedom, they wanted more democracy - but the only way you can do these things is by bringing all the governments to the table. For some reason the Assad government that the US supported and propped up for so many years became its enemy, and now we can’t talk to Assad. This attitude where the US controls the governments of other countries has destroyed the entire world. The entire world economy has been destroyed by these crazy war efforts of the US and its so-called coalition. I still don’t see these coalitions, and if it’s a coalition, it’s a coalition with the governments like Saudi Arabia, which has a horrible human rights record; it has probably one of the worst human rights record in the world. They are partners in trying to take down ISIS, trying to stabilize the Middle East. Very bad policy… I don’t believe the US does have a policy.
RT:There are reports that ISIS has joined forces with the Al Nusra Front. If true, how much of a concern is this?
TB: I personally don’t see a big difference. Statements like “ISIS is joining with Al-Qaeda, Al Nusra in joining with Al-Qaeda”… I think US intelligence has been bad from the very beginning. Didn’t US intelligence tell us that Saddam Hussein, [with all his] weapons of mass destruction, was going to kill every American if he had the opportunity? I traveled in the Middle East, I’ve traveled to countries like Yemen, I’ve been to Pakistan, I’ve been to other countries – they do not hate us for our life style. They like Americans, they all want prosperity, good jobs, good homes, they want to feel safe in their communities. Safety has been hampered by the conflict that the US is bringing to these parts of the world.
If ISIS goes, there will be another group behind them that will be even more fierce, even more revenge. They’ll try a crazier stance to get the world’s attention for what should be gotten right now by using diplomacy, political powers in the region, bringing everyone to the table, talking to Russia and Iran, not creating more and more enemies. We have solutions, there are people in this world who are incredibly intelligent, and they can find solutions to the grand strategy that will finally bring peace.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.