George W. Bush has been criticised heavily for taking the United States to an open ended war in Iraq. The joint resolution which was supported and then regretted by the likes of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry (Barrack Obama was saved by not being elected to the senate until 2004) passed in October 2002. It was employed by President Bush to authorise the invasion in March 2003 and subsequent occupation which officially lasted until 2011.
The case I have often heard from pacifists, feckless liberals, and people possessed with anti-american spite; is that blank checks of the kind from 2002 enable powerful nations to play god in antique lands. In a general way this is a correct and valuable lesson. And the mistakes in prosecution of the war in Iraq are well attested to. But the critics overstep when they argue that getting embroiled in another conflict in Mesopotamia will have the same outcome as before.
Hesitancy to oppose the Islamic State (which is not a perversion of Islam, but rather a nihilistic interpretation of it) presumes that the people of Iraq are not worth defending. Or at least their value as fellow human beings does not outweigh our own suspicions of the American war machine. This luxurious position (since it cannot be said of those nearer the shells and beheadings and rapes) is cautious, and sensible in a self-serving way. But it is morally indefensible.
With the wide angle lens of history we can deduce that Iraq has been a place of instability and often rancid fear for decades. For the last twenty-five the United States of America has played an active part, and were it to mobilise effectively the new threat of ISIS would quickly shrivel. The difficulty is that the domestic (and now we can definitely say global) public have long had an irritable digestive system for wars abroad. Indochina (including the two Vietnam wars 1954-1975) permanently upset the stomach, for which we can thank the likes of Henry Kissenger for adding chronic acid reflux.
If public opinion was to stabilise for long enough to carry out a thorough engagement things might be a hell of a lot more peaceful. But Kissenger incarnates; those without conscience, with a narcissistic desire for credit and praise are with us still and have to be guarded against. How then to proceed? A good start would be to know your enemy, and to learn who cannot be tolerated to continue existing for the irredeemable damage they do to their fellow humans.
A war against ISIS with boots on the ground may be worth fighting by this logic. I am no soldier, and I cannot write with the same strength as one who could carry these principles into the theatre of war. But inasmuch as I can I will stick by the people of Iraq, and not subject them to the evil of capricious minds. There is a humanism at work here, it defies the us and them understanding and embraces the logic that we are all people worth a damn, and we have been involved in each others lives far to long to pull back now.