No, this is not The Onion. No, this is not a rip-off of The Onion. This is not satire. This is the plea from Iraq’s Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Defense and the Minister of National Security Affairs. All of whom happen to be the same person: Nouri al-Maliki.
Iraq is what he describes as a “vibrant democracy” in a New York Times op-ed in anticipation of a visit to the U.S. and a meeting with President Obama this week.
Maliki says he’s fighting terrorism. Al-Qaeda is in Iraq killing the Iraqi people, he explains. “It has been almost two years since American troops withdrew from Iraq. And despite the terrorist threats we face, we are not asking for American boots on the ground,” he writes. “Rather, we urgently want to equip our own forces with the weapons they need to fight terrorism, including helicopters and other military aircraft so that we can secure our borders and protect our people. Hard as it is to believe, Iraq doesn’t have a single fighter jet to protect its airspace.”
Now if arming a Middle Eastern country with a solid history of sectarian violence sounds vaguely familiar and like an acutely bad idea—it’s because we’ve done it before. In Afghanistan in the ‘80s, we armed the Mujahedeen to aid their fight against the Soviets. And when we invaded the country a decade later, we were met with our own weapons. Poetic.