I don’t think they expected it at all. The plan did not have the necessary elements in it to deal with this. There was a thought — an expectation, a hope, if you will — that this thing was going to be quick and easy and bloodless, and we were going to be welcomed with rose petals on our tanks, and this has not come to pass. — Joe Galloway, CNN war correspondent in Iraq, March 2003
How could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? — Hillary Clinton on the Benghazi attacks, September 2012
America is on the verge of another war, possibly even two wars. On the one hand conservatives are demanding that Obama intervene to crush ISIS, and there are libertarians who are sympathetic to this demand. The tide of anti-interventionism that stopped Obama’s airstrikes against Assad will not rise up again to prevent intervention against ISIS. There is also the escalating situation in Ukraine and a possible war with Russia on the horizon through NATO, which the U.S. would obviously lead.
ISIS is undoubtedly horrible, but as Pat Buchanan has argued, there are more than enough powers in the region who can stop ISIS if they want to. American intervention is not necessary – American intervention is what brought the current crisis about. Conservatives desperately wanted to believe that the Iraq war was a “good war”; Saddam may not have carried out 9/11, he may not have even had the WMDs, but he was a dictator and that’s reason enough, isn’t it? And yet Saddam, just like Gaddafi and Mubarak, or the tottering Assad, knew how to keep a lid on the dark and violent forces now wreaking havoc across the Middle East and North Africa. Leaving aside whatever realpolitik our government had in mind when pursuing the removal of these dictators, it got American conservatives and plenty of liberals to support its plans by insisting that we had a moral right and duty to topple dictators in the name of freedom and democracy, or so that they stop “harming their own people.” And yet many of “their own people” as we see now – and could have seen before if we chose – were Islamic fanatics who probably needed to be suppressed.
There is also the situation with Russia, in which a government responsible for the disintegration of the Middle East through preemptive warfare is lecturing another country about military aggression. Most Americans don’t know the first thing about Crimea, or how dubious it is to declare that its annexation represents something entirely shocking without any historical or cultural context. Most Americans don’t even know that the CIA, the State Department, and countless NGOs associated with the US and EU funded and supported the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically-elected leader (so much for “democracy”) who was friendly to Russia. They don’t understand how removing Russia’s first-strike capabilities by installing a missile shield is a direct provocation and possibly a prelude to nuclear war. Again all of this is sold to us as imperative, that Putin is a ruthless dictator trying to revive the Soviet Union, even though the vast majority of Russians support him.
I believe our government has cynical reasons for doing what it does, that it is obsessed with preventing the rise of Russia or any other significant power, that it wishes to maintain instability in the Middle East, that it seeks to aggressively punish any country that looks as if it may do significant business with currencies other than the dollar, and so on. But even if you think that’s all baloney, even if you really believe in the idealistic narrative about America liberating people from dictators, surely you must see that these ideas have failed. Everything the neocons said about Iraq was wrong, including the lie that we would be welcomed as liberators; everything Hillary apparently believed about Libya was wrong, including her belief that everyone there would be grateful for their “liberation.” Everything you are being told now about US intervention in the Middle East and Eastern Europe is also wrong, and for the same reasons. No one will be grateful. There will only be hatred, bloodshed, trillions more wasted and our prestige tarnished even more. Alliances are forming against the United States, economic, political and military; this country is rotting economically, politically and morally from the inside out and cannot oppose the combined wrath of Russia, China, and the allies they will be able to rally to their cause.
On a final conservative trope: America is not hated by increasing numbers around the world because Obama is “soft.” America is hated around the world because both Republicans and Democrats have been caught lying so many times, their claims have been revealed as hypocritical, self-serving and delusional so many times, that trust in our country is shattered beyond repair.