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Empire

Iraq to Mali: The changing calculus of war

As Africa becomes the new frontline in the so-called war on terror, have the Europeans learnt from America's mistakes?
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2013 07:05

It has been 10 years since the US-led invasion of Iraq, which marked a turning point in the West's so-called war on terror.

The pretext of the Iraq war was security and freedom, but the bombastic and openly pronounced objective was no less than remaking the greater Middle East region.

"We have gone in with bombastic ideology, self interest, and no real plan. I mean If you’re going to do this, at least do it competently. We have done all of that incompetently."

- Barbara Bodine, former US ambassador to the Republic of Yemen 

For Iraq, the invasion and occupation were cataclysmic. It claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, smashed the country's infrastructure, and tore its social fabric apart with a civil war that continues to kill hundreds of Iraqis a month. Baghdad - a cosmopolitan capital for thousands of years - has been reduced to a cluster of walled ghettos, armed against each other.
 
For the US, Iraq became a quagmire and a humiliation - a strategic and moral failure that the country has spent the last four years trying to forget.

President Barack Obama entered the White House with the promise of a new relationship with the Arab and Muslim world. His administration is withdrawing troops and replacing them with airstrikes, drones, and a surge of special forces. But how much has America's calculus of war really changed?
 
And as Africa becomes the new frontline in the 'war on terror', have the Europeans learnt from America's mistakes?

"We have to put boots on the ground. I’ve been in those boots; those are uncomfortable boots."

- John Nagl, retired US army lieutenant colonel 

Shortly after sending fighter jets and troops into Mali, French President Francois Hollande said: "We will stay...for as long as it’s necessary to ensure victory over terrorism.” That is the same socialist president who recently told his people that there would be: “no men on the ground, no engagement by French troops” and that France would only provide "material support" to Mali’s armed forces.

The twists and turns of the West’s endless 'war on terror' continue to confound and confuse.
 
Empire explores the merits, objectives, costs and morality of these wars with our guests: John Nagl, a retired Lieutenant Colonel who co-authored the US army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual; Jean Marie Guehenno, the director of the Center of International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University, and former United Nations under secretary general for Peacekeeping Operations; Barbara Bodine, a professor at Princeton University and a former US Ambassador to the Republic of Yemen who also served with the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in Iraq; and Christopher Hedges, a senior fellow at The Nation Institute, former New York Times Middle East bureau chief, and author of several books, including War is a Force That Gives us Meaning and Empire of Illusion.

 
This episode of Empire can be seen from Sunday, February 25 at the following times GMT: Sunday: 2000; Monday: 1200; Tuesday: 0100; Wednesday: 0600.

Click here for more Empire.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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