It would not be a military intervention. Instead the USA would marshal its massive resources toward immediately providing medical assistance to anyone wounded from the fighting or otherwise. We would provide immediate needs like food easily, and work on restoring disrupted services like running water, electricity, telecommunications, etc.
We would go into it understanding that we created this mess, specifically in terms of sectarian divides. But furthermore, decades of ongoing bombing and sanctions by the USA have created an environment of harsh poverty. In such an environment, extreme reactionary ideologies can flourish like fungus.
Instead of opposing the reactionary violence of groups like ISIS with more nationalist violence by America, we would counter it with development. We would help build infrastructure. We would make Iraq a livable place again, working with communities and providing resources. We would be conscious that in a healthier, more humanitarian situation, attitudes would begin to soften. Warring factions might consider coming to the negotiating table. Extreme sectarian loyalties would blur. A humanitarian situation makes the people more humanitarian; people reflect their situation. The worst, most reactionary elements like ISIS would find themselves increasingly isolated and unpopular, as the improved situation would allow people to regain their reason and tolerance. They would begin to view groups like ISIS as unnecessary and negative, and new, more reasonable factions could come to the forefront.
I’ve heard anecdotal stories that the KBR contractors who have done the token “humanitarian” work of building schools, etc., hated their jobs and built the schools like shit, some of them even collapsing. We would go into this believing in our mission of helping people, and probably NOT employ a subsidiary of Halliburton to do it!
The humanitarian work could not really even have a military escort, because that spirals into greater and greater military involvement. Instead, aid workers would have to understand that they are in Iraq at their own risk, and serving a higher good. If we got ugly headlines about aid workers being killed, we would have to respond not militarily, but with patient compassion by sending more aid. We could never allow this humanitarian effort to simply become another cover for military intervention.
Finally, we would also work to reverse the massive plutonium contamination that plagues Iraq and causes babies to be born with horrid, often fatal deformations. This contamination came from the US military’s use of plutonium-cased ammunition and bombs, useful for its extreme density allowing it to pierce enemy armor, but also highly toxic, liberally spread everywhere. We would need a cleanup process for this, and whatever other unknown chemical hell the military subjected Iraq to.
DON’T MISTAKE THE USA FOR A HUMANITARIAN SUPERPOWER
Not long ago we were marching in the streets as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. We were all class-conscious and furthermore, highly aware that our plutocratic government was entirely complicit in Wall Street’s obscene profits, and also in the meltdown of 2008 which has been twisted to leave us in shit jobs for low pay while the markets set records.
All we have to do is remember what we knew back then, and apply it to foreign policy.
Is a government of puppets for the 1% ever going to wield military force for moral reasons? We must assume from the start that any move they make is selfish and corrupt to the core, both legislatively and militarily. They are an enemy government. We hate them. Are these people going to turn around and save Iraq, because they suddenly care about the children and the polar bears? No, they’re going to continue killing the children they’ve continually fucked for 20 years. They’ll just have a nice excuse again.
Is there a situation where just a little military force could improve it? Involve the US military and you will end up with the wanton death of civilians by airstrikes. You will end up with an American presence that continues to stoke sectarian divisions as part of their control strategy, laying the groundwork for the continuation of the problem. You will end up, also, with a return of the empire to a nation that had largely driven it off.
Will the USA involve itself in the humanitarian model I outlined above? Never – or I should say, not under this system. A socialist America might do that. And that’s why we need systemic change.