Red lines & lost credibility
The next day, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi responded:
"We wonder about the statements attributed to the American secretary of state about the popular mobilization forces. ... No side has the right to intervene in Iraq's affairs or decide what Iraqis do."
This slap across the face comes from a regime that rules as a result of 4,500 U.S. dead, tens of thousands wounded and $1 trillion invested in the nation's rebuilding after 15 years of war.
Earlier that day, Tillerson made a two-hour visit to Afghanistan. There he met Afghan officials in a heavily guarded bunker near Bagram Airfield. Wrote The New York Times' Gardiner Harris:
"That top American officials must use stealth to enter these countries after more than 15 years of wars, thousands of lives lost and trillions of dollars spent was testimony to the stubborn problems still confronting the United States in both places."
Such are the fruits of our longest wars, launched with the neo-Churchillian rhetoric of George W. Bush.
In India, Tillerson called on the government to close its embassy in North Korea. New Delhi demurred, suggesting the facility might prove useful to the Americans in negotiating with Pyongyang.
In Geneva, Tillerson asserted, "The United States wants a whole and unified Syria with no role for Bashar al-Assad ... The reign of the Assad family is coming to an end."
Well, perhaps? But our "rebels" in Syria were routed and Assad not only survived his six-year civil war but with the aid of his Russian, Iranian, Shiite militia, and Hezbollah allies, he won that war, and intends to remain and rule, whether we approve or not.
We no longer speak to the world with the assured authority with which America did from Eisenhower to Reagan and Bush 1. Our moment, if ever it existed, as the "unipolar power" the "indispensable nation" that would exercise a "benevolent global hegemony" upon mankind is over.