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Among the Rubble of the Freedom Agenda

“We might survive a communist occupation, but not another American liberation,” I heard a Frenchman say in 1948 when I first visited Paris. I thought he must just be a leftist; I was a child and so innocent. My mother was working in occupied Germany as a correspondent for Reader’s Digest and had taken me to Paris for a few days of sightseeing.

Years later I learned what he meant—any resistance, even a single man shooting from a village, would have the American Army pull back and call in the artillery and Air Force to flatten the area until it was rubble. There could be a case that saving one American soldier’s life is worth destroying some foreign town. But are we justified in doing it to serve the interest of one Arab tribe against another? Do the “liberated” foreigners then thank us?

Reading a New York Times report [1] that the so-called Iraqi Army, backed by American bombers, would soon liberate the city of Mosul, I searched for the results of other “liberated” cities. Reuters describes the “staggering” destruction of Ramadi [2]. The city, which had a half a million population, now “liberated from ISIS” with American bombers’ “help,” is in total ruins and deserted—no water nor electricity grid, unexploded bombs and ruins everywhere. “The fighting saw Islamic State bomb attacks and devastating U.S.-led coalition air strikes,” according to Reuters. Similar almost-total destruction was wreaked upon the Syrian town of Kobane in 2014 [3] by the American air forces helping to liberate it.

During the Iraq war we had the earlier example of Fallujah, destroyed by U.S. Marines in a “liberation,” partially designed to “punish” its inhabitants [4] for hanging four U.S. contractors, and a picture of the gruesome act was widely circulated at the time.

An Iraqi force gearing up to attack Mosul, one of Iraq’s largest cities, is composed in part of Shiite tribesmen. It’s not difficult to imagine that many Shiites would like to totally destroy the mainly Sunni city, not to mention looting it in the process. But is it really in America’s interests to partake and make possible such a change in control, or will it instead generate new thousands of bitter victims hoping one day to wreak similar vengeance on America? Yet this is the Obama policy, following in the footsteps of its helping Saudi Arabia to decimate the civilian infrastructure of Yemen (with aerial refueling and providing targeting information for Saudi bombers, not to mention selling them the actual bombs).

I put the word “army” in quotes because American journalists in Iraq and Afghanistan repeatedly use the word to describe what are actually tribes and clans—but hardly representing nations as European and American armies do.

It’s one thing for foreigners destroy each other’s cities, but for us to do it? It’s very different when America takes one side and helps the other to “bomb them back into the stone age,” an expression sometimes heard from our generals. Our cities have never been so destroyed, so we have little comprehension about what we do to the cities of other nations. Bombers today, with their extraordinary accuracy, quickly run out of military targets. Then they often go after civilian infrastructure.

Other times, as in the first Iraq war in 1991, we purposely bombed the irrigation, sanitation, and electric plants. [5] A million Iraqis, mainly children, subsequently died from starvation and disease. TV news rarely reports such information, which might cause Americans to question some of the wanton destruction. However, in this case we have the admission of Madeleine Albright [6] on “60 Minutes”. The destruction we have helped do to Yemen would be a war crime under rules America used at the Nuremberg Trials.


Most of Mosul’s population is probably not pro-ISIS; the group captured the city and was not invited in. Yet now we hear Republican presidential candidates urging carpet bombing and obliteration of Iraqi and Syrian cities in order to “win” a war against ISIS. But will such actions gain us peace or allies among other Arabs? Or will it just continue our unending wars in the Muslim world? And generate more bitter hatred of America?

Jon Basil Utley is publisher of The American Conservative.

11 Comments (Open | Close)

11 Comments To "Among the Rubble of the Freedom Agenda"

#1 Comment By Chris Chuba On March 24, 2016 @ 8:33 am

The U.S. admitted to at least 600 air strikes to defeat a force of about 400 ISIS fighters in Ramadi and the city looked like the surface of the moon. Meanwhile, the press coverage of the event was glowing.

Now contrast this to the media’s sneering coverage of the Russian campaign in Syria. Unless you are living on the Moon, I don’t really need to elaborate.

In just the past week, CNN’s did a multi-part series where they take rebel allegations that the Russians have been targeting hospitals basically as fact, despite the fact that the Russians deny this, negotiated a ceasefire, and that Assad has even paid civil servants in rebel areas.

We do not have an MSM that portrays anything close to reality anymore. We are doomed to continue to make bad decisions in the M.E. because we are constantly being fed misinformation.

#2 Comment By James Ervin On March 24, 2016 @ 11:15 am

“Our cities have never been so destroyed, so we have little comprehension about what we do to the cities of other nations.”

I have to disagree with this specific point while, I think, reinforcing your your overall message. I know it was a long time ago, but remember Sherman’s march to the sea through Georgia? A lot of cities got leveled. So what did we gain from that? First, we did get to end that war, which is no small thing, but the aftermath? Reconstruction, which led to the creation of the KKK, and then Jim Crow resulted. We are still living with the consequences every time you see a good old boy with his stars and bars or memes of “the south shall rise again” that persist to this day.

I find it amazing that the people who advocate us fighting and then occupying other nations, can’t see the parallels in our own past to see what can happen. Of course that would mean that they have to think past their Jingoistic ideology and actually consider the world as it really is.

P.S. That “I’m not a robot test” is no joke, I was beginning to doubt my own humanity there.

#3 Comment By Joe F On March 24, 2016 @ 12:56 pm

Mr. Earvin, it might help if our own history wasn’t treated like a episode of a Saturday morning cartoon. The common wisdom of today states that the Confederacy was the moral equivalent of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or Hitler’s Germany and many still think we are the worst and most backward part of the nation.

#4 Comment By WillW On March 24, 2016 @ 1:17 pm

James Ervin, exactly. My father (born 1940) was able to talk with his great grandfather about “when the Yankees came.” We still remember.

#5 Comment By Not Far From The Tree On March 24, 2016 @ 3:20 pm

Ah, the “freedom agenda”. Like the “worker’s paradise”, it has the regrettable quality of poisoning and destroying those whom it purports to nourish.

Could it be because so many of those pushing the “freedom agenda” are descended from those who pushed for the “worker’s paradise”? Clearly, a question for another time and place …

#6 Comment By Lee On March 24, 2016 @ 7:54 pm

The most feared words on the planet is the promise of America bringing “freedom” or “democracy” to a location near you.

#7 Comment By Andrew Nichols On March 25, 2016 @ 6:19 am

Now contrast this to the media’s sneering coverage of the Russian campaign in Syria. Unless you are living on the Moon, I don’t really need to elaborate.

Oh yes -We are endlessly regaled about how Russian bombing is so indiscriminate and crude. The Saudi levelling of Yemen and the “coalition bombing of Ramadi are either ignored or totally sanitised.

The endless demonisation of Russia will become even more unhinged and dangerous should Clinton get elected POTUS.

#8 Comment By alexandre On March 27, 2016 @ 9:42 am

Obama should be sued for war crimes and aiding and funding terrorist organizations such as ISIS and AQ. Time to impeach this terrorist and toss the key in the Hudson river!

#9 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 27, 2016 @ 10:48 pm

But Mr. Utley, don’t we know the real reason for truly exceptional destruction is that as much ordinance must be expended as possible?
How else will the exceptionalism of extraordinary cash flows and stock booms accrue to the controlling Deep State our government really fronts for, Ike’s military-industrial complex in its full maturity and majesty of power?

#10 Comment By Steven Markley On March 30, 2016 @ 3:14 pm

The common wisdom of today states that the Confederacy was the moral equivalent of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or Hitler’s Germany and many still think we are the worst and most backward part of the nation.
In this, the common wisdom is pretty spot-on. State constitutions whose charters not only permitted slavery, but exalted it as a right of the white race to subjugate blacks, really is up there with Nazi Germany and the regime of Pol Pot. Further, the southern states the other states in the Union on income, education, jobs, and quality of life. But at least they’re pulling ahead on teen pregnancy and methamphetamines.

It’s not so much what the South that did that makes people look down on them. It’s what they keep , and the fact that they keep celebrating a dead nation that was a failure on every level.

This is speaking as white male that lived in Mississippi for more than thirty years of his life. I know enough about Southern apologizism to know that it’s crap. And really, it doesn’t have any place in this discussion.

#11 Comment By Tess On April 2, 2016 @ 7:21 am

I agree fully with Fran. It is all about money and power. Human lives including Americans’ are of no consequence.