Trump’s Imperial Hubris
The president seems determined to keep U.S. forces in Iraq despite Iraqi opposition to their continued presence:
“Eventually we want to be able to allow Iraq to run its own affairs," says @POTUS. "But this isn’t the right point."
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) January 7, 2020
I said the other day that Trump has no respect for other states’ sovereignty, and you couldn’t ask for a better demonstration of that than this arrogant and condescending remark. The U.S. has been waging war in Iraq for most of the last twenty years, and here we are in 2020 with another U.S. president telling Iraq that the time to “allow” them to run their own affairs is not yet at hand. Recent U.S. actions have already inflamed Iraqi nationalist sentiment against the U.S. and made a continued military presence there untenable, and this remark is another insult that will infuriate the Iraqi government even further.
It is remarkable that the president who wants to present himself as the one who will bring the troops home is going out of his way to resist Iraqi efforts to get U.S. forces out. The president could seize the opportunity to pull U.S. forces out of Iraq completely, and that in turn would require him to withdraw from Syria as well. Even though it would be a move that has been forced on him as a result of his disastrous, bellicose actions, he could try to spin it as doing what he said he would do.
Trump’s comment is important in reminding us that he has much more in common with the neo-imperialists in his party than any of them would like to admit. In their view, Iraq isn’t really sovereign and independent, but exists as some sort of American protectorate. There is the same presumption that it is Iraq that should respect the U.S. and pay the U.S. for the cost of the installations we built after our illegal invasion of their country. The idea that the U.S. should actually respect Iraqi preferences and demands is never even considered.