The Solipsist State
A reexamination of the rationale for the invasion of Iraq stresses the ideological eclipse of reason
Delusions of Regime Change in Iraq
by Michael MacDonald
Harvard University Press
$29.95 List Price
When President Barack Obama announced a sustained campaign of drone assaults on strongholds of the militant isis (Islamic State) faction in Iraq and Kurdistan, pundits tended to categorize the move as a limited, one-off maneuver. The idea was to contain the spread of isis influence in northern Iraq, and to aid some 40,000 Yazidi Kurds under siege from the group on an isolated mountain. Obama himself stressed that “there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq”—and as if to prove him right, the Iraqi government quickly descended into a political crisis, as a newly appointed prime minister, the Shiite leader Haider al-Abadi, sought to restore a measure of stability to the chaotic US-backed regime in Baghdad.
But for all the Obama White House’s efforts to distance itself from Iraq’s latest political crisis, longtime observers of America’s folly-ridden occupation of Iraq could readily recognize the current mess in Baghdad and beyond as but the latest installment in a long series of calamities arising from America’s profound ideological hubris and imperial myopia. There was a distinctly familiar, and queasy, ring to this new round of efforts to referee grisly sectarian violence while hastily trying to dress up a jury-rigged political consensus in the preferred image of the American national-security state. This might have been Fallujah circa 2003, or Sadr City circa 2006, or Mosul—the first major city to fall to isis rule this past June—at any point from 2007 onward.
In other words, to make sense of the latest desperate failures of civil peace in Iraq,