Foreign Policy

Airstrikes Against U.S. Troops in Iraq Highlight Dangers of Our Presence in the Middle East

Keeping American boots on the ground means keeping them in harm's way.


On Monday, rockets struck Ayn al-Asad air base, a military facility in Iraq that hosts American troops. U.S. Army Colonel Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, tweeted that the attack did not result in casualties. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the action.

Even without human loss, Monday's hostilities highlight the risks associated with a continued U.S. troop presence and ongoing military engagement in the Middle East. The attack came just one week after President Joe Biden's June 27 airstrikes on facilities used by Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, which prompted rocket attacks against U.S. troops in Syria the very next day. There have been many tit-for-tat exchanges between the U.S. and Iran-linked parties since former President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in January 2020. Though it's unclear who ordered the Monday attack, it is clear that U.S. strikes and troops have failed to deter further antagonism from hostile parties in the region.

While Biden has made the Afghanistan troop withdrawal a centerpiece of his presidential agenda, his plans for the U.S. presence in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East are far vaguer. Following the Soleimani assassination on Iraqi soil, the Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution to expel U.S. troops from the country. No timetable for that withdrawal has emerged during bilateral negotiations, however, leaving the fate of the roughly 3,500 remaining U.S. troops in Iraq unsettled. Roughly 900 are still in Syria and their future is similarly murky.

That leaves ample targets for hostile parties throughout the Middle East, even though the reasons behind a continued troop presence in the two countries are questionable. The main goals for recent U.S. activities in Iraq and Syria—to defeat ISIS and help those nations reclaim seized territory—have largely been accomplished. Given current tensions in the Middle East, keeping American boots on the ground means keeping them in harm's way in order to achieve ill-defined ends. 

While justifying the February strike in Syria, Biden claimed the action was "pursuant to the United States' inherent right of self-defense." Democrats in Congress questioned that line of reasoning and pointed out the lack of a congressional authorization for the use of military force in Syria (though previous resolutions authorize such presidential actions in Iraq and Afghanistan). Sen. Tim Kaine (D–Va.) called the attack "not constitutional" given Biden's lack of communication with Congress. Rep. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.) agreed and criticized Biden for carrying out a strike that was "not in self-defense against an imminent threat."

Biden's June strikes received similar scrutiny. They reignited debate over presidential war powers, spurring the House to vote to repeal several military force authorizations. That resistance is making it increasingly difficult for the president to justify the dubious constitutionality of strikes, unnecessary escalation of tensions, and endangering the lives of Americans stationed in the Middle East.

As he announced the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Biden questioned the sensibility of delaying the troop departure further at the expense of even more lives lost. He invoked "the living cost of war" shown in American deaths, saying, "Every one of those dead are sacred human beings who left behind entire families. An exact accounting of every single solitary one needs to be had." 

They are indeed sacred, and Biden is right to ask why he should pass the responsibility of the war in Afghanistan to yet another presidential administration. He should take that logic a step further and realize that his concern about the safety of American troops is contradicted by the U.S. presence and actions elsewhere in the Middle East. Though the Monday strike did not result in American deaths or injuries, U.S. forces may not prove so lucky next time. 

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46 responses to “Airstrikes Against U.S. Troops in Iraq Highlight Dangers of Our Presence in the Middle East

  1. Not to split hairs, but are rocket attacks considered airstrikes? I assume these were ground launched weapons.

    1. Jesus, fuck. (Cue ‘JFC’ meme.) No, they are not the same. In the slightest. Though they may be, in the very near future, as good as UCAS assets are getting. See, e.g., the recent Armenia/Azerbaijan conflict.

      I remember when this magazine hired writers that had life experiences beyond riding a barstool and surfing Twitter.

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      2. These are the people who think APC’s are tanks and don’t like it when you point out that if they’re gonna write about them they should know the difference.

        Because while I don’t think local police forces should getting APC’s, there’s a world of difference between the sheriff getting a surplus M113 and him getting a surplus M60.

        1. Seriously. It’s just irksome to read that kind of ignorant shit. How hard is it to get writers that can differentiate from obviously very different types of military vehicles? Not like everything is on the internet.

          1. You live in shithole Spokane.


          2. Remember when they kept calling a Carrier Battle Group a Battle Carrier Group on the West Wing? You would think they would have at least one consultant that had some military knowledge. Heck it does not even sound right to a layman.

    2. Well consider it is someone who is pointing out that enemy fire is a danger to our troops.

      No shit Sherlock.

  2. airstrikes require airplanes?

    >>the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani

    will never be spun as a bad thing. sorry.

    1. Yeah, Trump gets legit cred for once.

      1. And I give you legit credit for acknowledging that.

  3. I recall how conservatives cheered for the Iraq/Afghan Wars when Dumbya was POTUS.

    How quickly they change their tune.

    1. the day O called Afghanistan “The Good War” on live tv was also special. dummies.

      1. Compared to Iraq it was a good war.

    2. You mean back in 2001-2003? Yeah that was a long time ago, pedo.

      Lotsa far leftie schmucks like you voted for Obama, and now throw him under the bus on a regular basis.

      1. No, you Bushpigs cheered the Iraq War all the way up to January 2009.

        1. So about the time the left quit protesting the war?

    3. You know who else voted for the Iraq War? Future Democratic Presidential and VP candidates like Kerry, Edwards, Clinton, and Biden. Even American hero Robert Mueller — the man who would later prove #TrumpRussia collusion — warned about the dangers of Iraq’s WMDs.

      Which is not to say that going to war was the right call. The point is that, nearly 2 decades later, what matters now is being on the right side of history in the fight against alt-right white nationalism. I’ll gladly forgive Biden and Mueller (and Frum and Kristol) for mistakes they made before I was even old enough to vote.


    4. Very quick. It’s only been 18 years.

    5. Yeah. Hillary’s passionate speech on the senate floor converted all of them.

  4. Even without human loss, Monday’s hostilities highlight the risks associated with a continued U.S. troop presence and ongoing military engagement in the Middle East.

    Once upon a time, US troops were put in place as sort of a tripwire on the assumption that no one would dare risk attacking US troops unless they were very serious. Those days are long gone. Nobody fears the US any more and I blame the fact that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were 75 years ago, nearly beyond living memory. Every so often we need to remind people that we’re an 800-pound gorilla and we’re crazy as fuck stone-cold killers.

    1. Yeah. But that WAS once upon a time.
      Now the US military is a social theory test tube that doesn’t scare anyone.

      1. Yeah, we need to be a lot more ruthless. Our media is a big part of the problem. They are the enemy within.

        1. No the enemy is anti American traitors like you.

          People who want to overthrow our government and put their hard on for Trump above the Constitution.

          Have you no shame?

    2. Kinda like the fall of the Berlin wall, and Russia losing the cold war being old history has made people fear communism less.

  5. Wow, look at this, Peanuts:

    Virginia ‘Bible study’ group was cover for violent militia plans, prosecutors say

    These Bible-beaters are plotting against the USA.

    1. What percentage of his “militia” group were undercover federal agents?

      1. If it’s even true. Federal agents don’t have the greatest credibility anymore. Especially with Biden using them as a political weapon to silence dissent.

        Something he learned from Obama.

        1. I’m glad they’re targeting anti American traitors like you.

    2. Fi Duong. Definitely a white supremacist.

      1. Enh, he opposes communism, so close enough.

        (This *is* sarcasm, because it can be hard to tell, these days.)

  6. Meanwhile
    Two different media watchdog outlets, Media Lens and Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), have published articles on the complete blackout in mainstream news institutions on the revelation by Icelandic newspaper Stundin that a US superseding indictment in the case against Julian Assange was based on false testimony from diagnosed sociopath and convicted child molester Sigurdur Thordarson.

    FAIR’s Alan MacLeod writes that “as of Friday, July 2, there has been literally zero coverage of it in corporate media; not one word in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC News, Fox News or NPR.”

    “A search online for either ‘Assange’ or ‘Thordarson’ will elicit zero relevant articles from establishment sources, either US or elsewhere in the Anglosphere, even in tech-focused platforms like the Verge, Wired or Gizmodo,” MacLeod adds.

    1. From Iceland
      Key witness in Assange case admits to lies in indictment
      A maj­or wit­n­ess in the United States’ Depart­ment of Justice ca­se against Ju­li­an Assange has admitted to fabricat­ing key accusati­ons in the indict­ment against the Wiki­leaks found­er.

  7. “risks of us troop presence”…. This is a feature, not a bug.

    Pretending Biden wants troops out of anywhere is pretty naive. If he wanted them out, he would have stuck to the timetable.

    There are powerful establishment forces behind forever war… Lots of money, lots of power.

    That is why they are continuously looking for the next pretext.

    Maybe they will withdraw… But it won’t be because Biden made it any centerpiece of anything. It will be because momentum to withdraw could not be overcome.

    1. Perhaps Biden though he was being slick. Announce a withdraw date then do it quickly to catch the enemy off guard.

      The Taliban will feign surprise and continue taking ground.
      Meanwhile, it’s the allies that were surprised and left holding the bag.

    2. Exactly. SOMETHING will happen and then we’ll have “no choice” but to remain.

  8. Meanwhile…the corrupt media keeps the 1/6 false memory alive with tales of fear and woe (fake most of those people are getting misdemeanor trespassing)…Joe Trippi the Democrat joins the pedo Lincoln Project (with buttplug I assume), because a Democrat wants to prevent the GOP control of Congress (it’s inevitable that dems lose)…Senile Joe Biden will send people to your house like crazy cult members to witness the sanctity of the vaccine (pbuh!)…and the salivating media are going WILD for a tropical storm in order to keep up the fear. Have a great day.

  9. I’m surprised nobody is demanding that the troops stay. After all, Biden The Evil Democrat is the one doing the withdrawal. Aren’t good conservatives supposed to oppose everything he does as a matter of principle?

    1. Day 5 of your bender?

    2. By the way, amusing you still can’t say one negative thing about Biden. Those GOP must be in control of all branches with the dedication you have to fighting them.

    3. They promised to bring the troops home in 2008 and 2012. Whatver happened to that campaign promise?

    4. Come on, man.

  10. “On Monday, rockets struck Ayn al-Asad air base.”
    Any base with a name that combines Objectivism with Ba’ath Socialism is just begging to be attacked. (But seriously, Homeland Security needs to start rounding up members of any underground Rothbardian networks)

  11. If u need to know more ……..

  12. Just for fun….
    “‘While justifying the February strike in Mississippi, Biden claimed the action was “pursuant to the United States’ inherent right of self-defense.”‘

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