Rebranding the Iraq War

by Chris Toensing | published August 24, 2010

The war in Iraq is over. Or so the government and most media outlets will claim on September 1, by which time thousands of US troops will have departed the land of two rivers for other assignments. With this phase of the drawdown, says President Barack Obama, "America's combat mission will end." The Pentagon is marking the occasion by changing the name of the Iraq deployment from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn.

If Kerry Wins, Little Will Change in US Middle East Policy

by Chris Toensing | published March 1, 2004

The victory of John Kerry in the Democratic Party primaries following Super Tuesday this week leads to an observation. To a remarkable degree, the urgent desire to deny George W. Bush a second term in the White House has papered over the schisms in the broad Democrat church, even enticing many members of renegade sects back into the fold.

Dilemmas of the Left-Liberals

by Chris Toensing | published August 6, 2003

If liberals and the left are united behind anything in our allegedly post-ideological age, it is that human rights and humanitarian considerations must always trump realpolitik. The left opposed the punishing economic sanctions endured by Iraqi civilians from 1991 to 2003, despite the sanctions’ undoubted success in “containing” the former Iraqi regime. The Bush administration, unable so far to detect a single spore of anthrax in Iraq, is now selling the invasion retroactively as a “humanitarian intervention,” mostly to well-deserved hoots of derision from left-liberals.

Lost in Our Own Little World

by Chris Toensing | published April 18, 2004

Two days after a lethal car bomb exploded outside the Mount Lebanon Hotel in downtown Baghdad last month, I sat down for tea with an Iraqi poet near the capital’s famous open-air book market. In between jokes delivered with a mock Egyptian accent, he laid out his theory of the hotel bombing: the US military staged the violence, he posited, in order to justify its continuing occupation of Iraq.

Military Families Feel Betrayed by Administration

by Chris Toensing | published April 22, 2004

For everyone except George W. Bush and his entourage, the recent siege of Falluja and the standoff with the militia of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gave occasion to rethink the conventional wisdom about the US-led occupation of Iraq.

An Occupation By Any Other Name...

by Maren Milligan | published June 29, 2004

Monday’s transfer of authority—two days before the June 30 date—is being touted as the date of Iraqi independence. Nothing could be further from the truth. The unfolding political transition in Iraq will keep sovereign power in the hands of Americans in every relevant sense.

Hypocrisy Doesn't Win Arab Friends

by Marc Lynch | published November 3, 2004

A prominent liberal Arab journalist who strongly supported the war in Iraq, has a long record of outspoken opposition to Islamic extremism, and has a deep appreciation for American values recently told me that he has never been more depressed or more alienated from the United States. Why? He was absolutely clear: George W. Bush’s policies and rhetoric have made it impossible for moderates such as himself to win their battles for a more liberal Arab future.

Dictatorship Remains OK for our Allies

by Chris Toensing | published February 18, 2005

President George W. Bush likes to associate his administration’s goals with the will of the Almighty. Witness the stirring coda of the 2005 State of the Union address: “The road of Providence is uneven and unpredictable yet we know where it leads: It leads to freedom.” As in many previous speeches, Bush lingered on the way stations of this divinely lit pathway in the “broader Middle East,” the region stretching from Morocco to Afghanistan.

Bush's Flawed Flypaper Theory

by Chris Toensing | published July 29, 2005

Forget for a moment how shamelessly President George W. Bush tried to manipulate Americans’ emotions by invoking September 11 six times during his recent prime-time sales pitch for staying the course in Iraq. There is no need to recall the reports finding no connection between that day’s terrorist attacks and Iraq, and no call for repeating that Iraq was not in danger of becoming a “safe haven” for al-Qaida until after it was invaded. The president doesn’t really claim otherwise.

Study Group Shows Why US Must Leave

by Chris Toensing | published December 14, 2006

It is time for the United States to leave Iraq.

Not because the consequences of withdrawal won’t be dire for Iraq, but because these consequences are occurring anyway, in slow motion. Civil war and chaos already envelop the country, both conditions are getting worse and the United States is powerless to arrest the downward spiral.

Slowly, but too slowly for those who will die unnecessarily in the meantime, this somber reality is dawning on Washington. The report of the vaunted Baker-Hamilton commission, released December 6, offers a blunt diagnosis of multiple problems besetting the Bush administration Mesopotamian misadventure.