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IPFS News Link • Foreign Policy

Bogus Foreign Policy Narratives Go Unchallenged

• by ted galen carpenter

Such malfeasance has facilitated a growing list of Washington's policy blunders and outright debacles. Yet the tendency to accept the US government's version of the issues at stake in any new crisis appears to be getting worse rather than better.

An examination of developments just during the post-Cold War era reveals a disturbing number of surprising and worrisome examples. In the prelude to the Persian Gulf War in 1991, George H. W. Bush's administration insisted that Iraq's military was an extremely capable, powerful force that posed a threat to the entire Middle East and perhaps beyond. Even modestly skeptical analysts should have raised questions about that assertion. After all, Iraq had waged a draining, 8-year-long war against Iran in the 1980s that ended in a stalemate.

That surprising outcome occurred even though Iraq had multiple, significant advantages going into that conflict. Iran was in turmoil following the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The military's corps of officers had been devastated, caused by a wave of defections to the West and a purge of officers and even some senior enlisted personnel who were deemed insufficiently loyal to the new government. The seizure of US diplomats in Tehran also led to the imposition of sanctions, which not only damaged Iran's economy, but prevented the military from getting spare parts for critical weapons systems or handling important maintenance functions.