I have a lot of sympathy for many of Babak’s judgments here, especially on the nature of post-war Mesopotamia. You can see the similarity in our views if you look at my post, "TNI.ORG" pl
I disagree with Lee Kuan Yew since one cannot judge how the historical process could have evolved in the absence of this or that event. What he is suggesting is akin to religious faith.
I also would like to suggest that if he were indeed correct in his assessment, then the burden of the war should have been borne by these Asian-Values states and not by US.
I also think that one does not need to wait for years or decades to form a correct assessment regarding an specific historical process. As counter examples I submit to you US interventions in Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. In my opinion, they were quite useless to US and were not worth "it".
Or consider WWII: FDR, Stalin, and Churchill were all quite cognizant that the war would find US in a pretty good position.
I think 5 years from now you will have a stronger (I am an oil determinist) Shia dominated government in Arab Iraq with a continued Sunni insurgency – sort of like Chechnya or Israel in the Occupied Territories.
I think you will have a stronger Kurdish Iraq which will continue to be a prosperous but uneasy tribal confederation (Barzani & Talabani tribes).
I do not know how long Iran will continue to pursue her fantasies just as I do not know how long US will pursue hers. But the destruction of the Iraqi State has left her with a very strong position and that cannot be changed regardless of what the advocates of air power claim.
But I think that 5 years from now you will see the same type of relationship (but stronger) between Iran & Iraq that Iran has with Afghanistan today – specially Western Afghanistan.
I believe that Iraq will never again be (re-)constituted as an "Arab Nationalist" state. In fact, I think Arabism is also dead.
All that is left is a choice between restricted representative government such as the Islamic Republic of Iran or more despotism (secular or religious: Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, Jordan, Azerbaijan etc.)."
These posts on “The Guns of August” have the feel and inevitability of watching a train wreck.
General Casey has already been thrown on the track; his error believing that the White House actually wanted to draw down the troops and that the puppet government represents Iraq; a grievous error of believing one’s own propaganda or listening to the will of the American electorate.
The second carrier task force in the Persian Gulf; the destruction of Baghdad in the attempt to destroy the Mahdi Militia, or the infiltration of Iranian Revolutionary Guards; all will spin out of control; the collapse of the American economy and loss of the Middle East expeditionary force are distinct possibilities.
Intel Chief Negroponte is off to be second fiddle at Condi’s State Department. The train wreck scenarios must include nuclear attack within the USA. How else to get the Draft to get the boots on the ground to pursue the Middle East oil neo-colony? The only way to make money now in the USA is to rip off consumers through privatization or be on the government dole. The government of the USA cannot back down from their quest for oil domination.
A Mad Max world of the superrich in gated communities guarded by mercenaries on high ground is more realistic than Congress gutting the military industrial complex, pursuing alternate energy sources, or curtailing green house gasses.
Does the appointment of a naval aviator, WJ Fallon, to CENTCOM have any special significance? (The prospect of war with Iran presumably involving a prominent role for naval air.)
I can agree with much of the sentiment in this post. However, I continue always to be conflicted about the U.S. involvement in affairs of other areas. Operations where we destroy established governments (Honduras, Chile, Iran ….) I find fully reprehensible, but Bosnia and the Balkans leave me personally perplexed regarding my own feelings. As I waffle (I guess this is called flip-flopping these days) I can oftentimes support intervention, particularly where the good outweighs our country’s immediate monetary gain. I had a recent conversation in Europe with a Bosnian. We were decrying the ME mess when he added – “Believe me, there are many many people in Bosnia who are eternally grateful for the U.S. involvement in the Balkans.” I did not ask what sector of the populace that was, or if they gained in any specific way other than a more tranquil region and a Milosovec free country. Allowing a twang of idealism here and perhaps naivete regarding the Balkans, a truly great country can act sometimes on principles, not only on principals. Principled behavior could even have some amazing side-effects. Sadly, we, the U.S., may have a long time before we get to find out again.
To ponder my supposition that our Balkans’involvement was correct, I often argue that the strongest reason for a measured altruistic foreign policy is that I have never seen a family, tribe, institution or country where ‘internal’ and ‘external’ behaviors were markedly different. The way the head of a family or nation treats his outside equals reflects much the way he treats his own members. If any nation is externally ruthless and untrustworthy, that mirrors how it treats its own citizens. I long for the day that I as a U.S. citizen can again be treated by the Government with respect and trust. However, to respond to Babak, where is the value to the powers-that-be, where is it in the interest of the Government, to act where there is not an immediately preceived self interest? If the Government can maintain or even grow its control through wiretaps, reading mail, security cameras, oaths-of-allegiance, detention camps of and for its own citizens, then it is certainly in its (in the Government’s) self interest to do so. I would therefor offer that we need to be ‘moral’ and occasionally altruistic in our foreign affairs and international meddling, otherwise we are internally totalitarian.
“(secular or religious: Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, Jordan, Azerbaijan etc.)”
A probable outcome, Babak, but what about the other states you mentioned? These regimes are always described with adjectives like “weak”, “tottering”, “fragile” etc. … I would expect few of the present governments of these nations to survive the “surge” and all its fall-out intact.
I asume the USA will have to “assist” “friendly governments”, except the troops are lacking, so a collapse seems unavoidable. Condi’s attempts to form an “alliance” to face Iran seems long on rhetoric, short on fighting allies.
If the “friendly” regimes fail, the oil resources may slip away to be eagerly bought up by the Chinese, Indians and other idle bystanders. Thus, the neo-cons will have accomplished the total opposite of what they set out to do, complete defeat in the “Great Game”, a logical outcome based on their past performance.
I foresee the good ship NeoCon America/UK running aground on some hidden Middle Eastern shoals ahead.
Iran may be, or turn out to be, a power in its neighborhood. But it’s not clear to me that that’s alarming. Iran, Syria, Iraq and the other Arab countries are corrupt, inefficient, and backward. Iran’s GDP equals approximately the GDP of Greece or half the GDP of Turkey. Israel’s GDP is about 2/3 that of Iran. These facts seem to imply that (1) Iran doesn’t have the economic means to sustain a major conflict and (2) Iran doesn’t have the human and social capital to overcome its economic weaknesses. In WW II terms, Iran is Italy, not Germany or Japan.
Well, well, well, well. Gentlemen, and gentlewomen, we have a canary in the coal mine. We have something that I do not think I could ever have imagined.
I would have trouble coming up with someone more predictably nuts than Charles Krauthammer. Someone more predictably a supporter of the most insane expansionist dreams of the Israeli state.
But Mr. Krauthammer has folded. He’s cashing in his chips and leaving the room.
That, my friends, is by far, by far, the most significant thing I have seen recently. If Bush loses Krauthammer, he has lost it all.
Maliki should be made to know that if he insists on having this sectarian war, he can well have it without us. — Charles Krauthammer
[To those of you who point out that the veil has been taken off the unholy alliance between the Sunni dictatorships, kingships, puppet-states and general refuse and Israel, I say, true. But that was a really important veil.]
A military question.
During the Cold War, the Navy were the ones who wanted to first strike the Soviet Union.
Now, Bush is packing the military leadership and leadership generally with Navy men.
Does this represent the increase in insanity that I believe it does?
everyone ready to play along to the “who lost the Middle East” drumbeat?
ked: We’re already seeing the American “Dolchstosslegende” w.r.t. Iraq. The only difference is that this time around the Soviet Union isn’t around to reassure the U.S. that it’s still as it was post Vietnam.
If the world is ever going to witness homegrown, mainstream American fascists gaining power, it will be in the immediate aftermath of the Second Iraq War.
I do not agree that Arabism is dead and would in fact go as far as to say that the current seed of Arabism growing within the Arab world is more powerful than the sham Arabism of the likes of Saddam, Assad and even Nasser. It is even more powerful than the rise of the Islamic fundamentalist. It is fuelled both by strong grassroot operations and well educated middle classes who have had enough of the feudal status quo. Its current weakness lies in the fact that it is being suppressed from both the West and ruling elite.
George Bush has turned a region where US hegemony and perception of US power was unrivalled into a cauldron, a gladiatorial arena. All the previous bit part players are making a play now, knowing the US is over stretched and unable to commit the resources. This leaves the administration fighting many fronts, militarily in Iraq, semi-mililtarily in Palestine (success unknown) and Somalia (succes likely) and in Lebanon where the military option was a dismal failure and the political option slowly unravelling.
The Iraq adventure has emboldened those afraid to make their move previously. If enough pieces come into place, George W Bush may be remembered as the man who launched the resurgence of the Arab Republic. If that were to happen, he may, for reasons he may not like, be the man who saved the Arab world!
The EU is a border-truce situation. The eternal Europian struggle to enclose all areas in which ethnic groups reside has been put aside and various ethnic groups are allowed expression. Thus, one of the main reasons for war is eased. From reading Wesly Clark, I read that the “border wars” in the Balkins were undermining the founding principle of the EU, and that not having Europen wars is a GOOD IDEA. As such, was in our national interest.
i’ve neglected my philogical contributions lateley. first that, then to Iran’s prospects.
SH al Tikriti was hanged but mercifully not drawn and quartered on the eve of Eid-al-Adha. That is being advertised a a Sunni Eid.
Guy Fawkes, the First Gunpowder terrorist cheated the drawing and burning of his intestines and subesquent quartering of his four limbs by horses by quickly jumping off the gallows to have his neck snapped. He did this even though he had been weakened by torture. The usual practice of that day was to hang until suffocated and then revive to do the intestinal “drawing” thing. Watch Braveheart for the details.
For some reasons the Shiites celebrate it a day later. From WP.
“Eid ul-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحى ‘Īd al-’Aḍḥā) occurs on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijja. It is one of two Eid festivals that Muslims celebrate. Eid ul-Adha is celebrated by Muslims worldwide as a commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael for God. Like Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha also begins with a short prayer followed by a sermon (khuṭba).
It is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja (ذو الحجة) of the lunar Islamic calendar, after Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. This happens to be approximately 70 days after the end of the month of Ramadan.
Eid ul-Adha is three days long starting the day after the pilgrims in hajj (annual pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims world wide) descend from mount Arafat. ”
Ismail (Hebrew Ishmael) means Ishma , Ima? El God listens, the inverse of Samuel Shamuel, Sham? EL. In the Jewsish version is Isaac or Yistzhaaq who is presented for sacrifice. In Arabic as well a Hebrew dhaa?q is laughter. He was the “laughing” one.
Now to Iran. In my opinion, here is the deep structural problems an Iranian Ataturk would face today:
1. An inverted population bomb. Birth control efforts of the past have been too successful and by 2030 or so there won’t be enough youngsters to support the old geezers. Paradoxically what is thought to be a puritanical society has a state owned condom factory!
2. The breakdown of the family and the spread of prostitution under the euphemism of “temporary marriage.” The younger generation is into drugs, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll.
3. An apocylaptic religious leadership based on “immanentizing the eschaton” (like the fundametalist Xtian second coming Dr. Pat Robinson crowd. The Shiite mahdi vanished as a five year old so his doctrine is not formed, as far as my ignorance. The elder Sadr, Moktadr’ father, was elucidtating a doctrine of univeral love, and using the phrase “habibi” in his sermons before he was assasinated. The younger son does not have the theological imagination. The religion needs a message of universal love and a charismatic leader- somebody of the stature of the Lebanese Nasarallah who has been able to reach out to Palestinian Sunni’s and Aoun’s Christians.
4. A population mix. Azeris in the North-West around Tabriz. Khomeini himself was Azeri ethnicity. Baluchs-Sistanis in the East. Sunni Kurds in the West. Arabs Sunnis in the SouthWest. Centrifugal forces
5. A crazy hostile Great Decider (“GD”) led around by the nose by American NeoKon Likudniks who has got his depraved heart on starting another MidEast war.
6. And a stupid Mahmoud Ahmed Nezadi who is obliged to provide the GD the Gotterdammerung for the Twilight of the NeoKons and the Persians.
GD the GD.
In five years time, the neo-Khawarij will have the Persians moving towards a failed state, their death throws ranging from crys for help to deciding to take as many as they can down with them. Zarqawi smiles in his grave.
Following up on Steve Scott’s comment:
“A truly great country can sometimes act on principle … ”
I think the US did that quite a bit before it started playing The Great Game. The last time I am aware of was during Bush I presidency. As soon as the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Empire collapsed the US put the diplomatic screws to the South African apartheid regime, which subsequently yielded to Nelson Mandela. That wouldn’t have happened without us. It makes you feel like crying, don’t it?
I could certainly be proven wrong on this but I doubt there were many people who would have predicted on in Aug of 1914, that when the entire thing was over the Hapsburg, Hohenzollern, Romanov, and Ottoman Empires would be passed to the trash heap of history. Or that a series of new states would be born in the Balkans. And in the ME.
The same is true of the Afghanistan War. (The one between the Soviets and the Afghan plus their allies. How many would have said that shortly after this war is over the Berlin Wall will fall. Eastern Europe will emerge from under the Soviet’s bayonet (for now anyway) and the Soviet Union will be dissolved?
This war, I believe, is just beginning. Where and how it ends, and what is left standing when it does end, is, I suspect, up for debate.
Indeed, pigs are flying today in DC.
i dont think Bush has lost Krauthammer, quite the contrary. Krauthammer is responding in synchrony with Bush, the predictable (planned) blowback over the Saddam lynching. Bush is allowing the Maliki aka Sadr government to self distruct on its own accord while preparing the “government of national salvation” in waiting. Regime change in Iran, begins with regime change in Iraq — by having the regime in Iraq paint itself into the “extremist” corner, all by itself. To which Krauthammer correctly precieves as the central flaw in the pro-Shiite neo-con agenda in Iraq. Maybe what Krauthammer has done is to have “flipped” (or flipflopped) into the “realists” camp.
from Armand de Borchgrave. The elderly geezer sometimes spouts preposterous nonsense such as that Iran is promoting “Shiia Palestinian pawns.” As far as I know the the Faleestin are overwhelmingly Sunni and Xtian. Philolgical note, no “P” in Arabic. Filesteen.
But here is a geostrategic gem.
“Much has been made of Iran’s Achilles’ heel, e.g., its limited refining capacity for gasoline to keep almost 5 million vehicles on the road. Three out of four cars are more than 30 years old or have logged 120,000 miles (President Ahmadinejad drives a battered 20-year-old Peugeot). Even though it pumps 10 percent of the world’s oil, Iran still has to import 43 percent of its gasoline.
Iran’s staunch ally Venezuela has pledged to make up whatever shortfall occurs. Cars and trucks are being converted to run on natural gas at over 100 conversion centers. The government believes this will save $5 billion a year on gasoline imports. Iran has the world’s second largest natural gas reserve after Russia — 16 percent of the world’s total. ”
Allawi has just presented – in the UK Independent – a far-reaching “blueprint for peace” for an internationalised regional solution for the Iraq mess consisting of a long analysis-preamble plus a five-point finale. Seems the UK Lib Dem party is sponsoring it, will present it to the UK parliament to seek british support and Allawi will be presenting it to the Iraqi parliament.
“The Iraqi proposals
1 Iraq government calls for regional security conference including Iraq’s neighbours to produce an agreement/treaty on non-intervention and combating terrorism. Signatory states will be responsible to set of markers for commitments.
Purpose: To reduce/eliminate neighbouring countries’ support for insurgents, terrorists and militias.
2 Iraq government calls for preparatory conference on a Middle-Eastern Confederation of States that will examine proposals on economic, trade and investment union. Proposals will be presented for a convention on civil, human and minority rights in the Near East, with a supreme court/tribunal with enforcement powers.
Purpose: To increase regional economic integration and provide minorities in signatory countries with supra-national protection.
3 Iraq government calls for an international conference on Iraq that would include Iraq, its regional neighbours, Egypt, the UAE, the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China that would aim to produce a treaty guaranteeing:
a. Iraq’s frontiers.
b. The broad principles of Iraq’s constitutional arrangements.
c. Establishing international force to replace the multi-national force over 12 to 18 months. Appointing international co-ordinator to oversee treaty implementation.
Purpose: To arrange for the gradual and orderly withdrawal of American troops, ensure that Iraq develops along constitutional lines, confirm Iraq and its neighbours’ common frontiers.
4 Iraq government will introduce changes to government by creating two statutory bodies with autonomous financing and independent boards:
a. A reconstruction and development council run by Iraqi professionals and technocrats with World Bank/UN support.
b. A security council which will oversee professional ministries of defence, interior, intelligence and national security.
Purpose: To remove the reconstruction and development programme from incompetent hands and transfer them to an apolitical, professional and independent body. Also to remove the oversight, command and control over the security ministries from politicised party control to an independent, professional and accountable body.
5 The entire peace plan, its preamble and its details must be put before the Iraqi parliament for its approval”
I wasn’t an Allawi fan but this approach certainly makes far more sense than anything I’ve read elsewhere.
Allawi has not included the most crucial step: the US declaration for a time table for the withdrawal of her forces from Iraq.
Iran, Turkey, and Syria already have requested such a time table.
I believe this is a pre-condition for his program to start.
So .. seeing as Allawi has already started making the rounds to prepare the ground.. he knows he can best leave that bit “implicit” as leverage-room -being already well aware his interlocutors will make it a sine-qua-non condition? Bright guy, Allawi – I’d underestimated him.
Amongst other things, he’s first in line for Iraqi PM slot as soon as Maliki’s been duly human-sacrified on the altar of US “efficiency”.
UK Labour Party already ecstatic as they want out – plus want to re-emphasize non-unilateralism + UN to restore their EU leadership bid, core-EU nations ditto++ but would “of course” be ultra-joyfully prepared to line up (individually and/or financially, outside/despite/to the detriment of NATO and the increment of bilateral oil-contracts.. yay!! ) “if requested by the UN and the nation directly concerned” – as relatively-neutral non-islamic-sectarian parties with lots of hardware and no direct Islamic-sectarian stake.
So give the US another 6-12 months bleeding votes, blood n’ treasure .. then who’ll take me up on betting its lame-duck admin. will allofasudden “discover” this very-same cute lil’ internationalisation/regionalisation proposal “all by itself”, claim hallelujah we’ve finally got the UN/EU on board to share our burden!
That is, if meanwhile the US doesn’t attack Iran… ’cause if it does, all bets are off: strictly-armageddon scenario – and anyone willing to explain why the heck Russia and China are expected to refrain from preventively surprise-striking/noookooolarly taking out an obviously rabid-dog rogue-state when elsewhere engaged… when they’d be no less obviously next in line for glassification??
IMO, this is going nowhere. Allawi barely got single digit percentages in the last election despite the power of incumbency and the millions of dollars he got from the US for his election campaign. He has no domestic political constituency in Iraq that can push his case. All he has are the discredited US and UK in the eyes of the Iraqi population. He lives in London and Lebanon not hanging out in Iraq like Sadr or Hakim. The Shia are not going to give up what they have now without a serious fight. All this stuff is just platitudes. What matters is who controls the ground realities. Dawa, SCIRI and Sadr are there now exercising power. Allawi is not even in Iraq. I believe the best case for the Iraqis that can happen is a truce between the Sunni nationalists and Sadr that allows Sadr’s group to gain power (this obviously is not good for the US and Iran). Unlike all the other groups Sadr bore the brunt of Saddam and stuck with his people while the others like Allawi, Hakim and Maliki were safely ensconced in other countries. Sadr has substantially more legitimacy as an Iraqi opposition figure to Saddam than anyone else in the eyes of the long suffering Iraqis. He has the best opportunity to bring in the Sunni into a workable compromise. He supported them during the seige of Fallujah and is now their biggest tormentor. Of course he has no sympathy for the US and UK standing and that will cause conflict until the political will for occupation is lost. Let’s call a spade a spade – Bush and Blair have been defeated in their desire to occupy and control the destiny of Iraq.
WHY DOES EVERYONE LEAVE OUT THE ONE IMPORTANT ITEM THAT COULD MAKE IT WORK.
THE USA AND THE UK MUST PAY COMPENSATION FOR THE DAMAGE DONE AND THE PEOPLE WRONGLY KILLED AND JUST GET OUT
I SUGGEST 1000 BILLION CASH TO BE ADMINISTERED INDEPENDENTLY BY THE UN. THIS WILL CONCENTRATE MINDS.