Do We Ever Learn? Opportunities May Go Missing
El Maliki Digs InSimply Another Warlord. We Can Do Better, But Will We? Take this current report from CNN for example: Rosemary Church interviews State's David Tafuri.
Imaginary Nation Whose Exit Could Be Here. Here is a good background report, including 2007 Biden proposal to split the imaginary nation of Iraq back into its historical, tribal realities. Splitting Up A Failed Imaginary Nation. Remarkably, this is probably the best and only way to save the region, the people, and (ironically) the nation or idea of Iraq, and thus minimize outside pressures down the road (e.g., Iran leaning on the Shi'a, Turkey pulverizing the Kurds again, etc.).
Another Ngo Dinh Diem Moment in the Making? Our catastrophic misadventure in Vietnam half a century ago was half a strategic war of error, and half an attempt to regain French support in Europe (NATO) by our long-running support of their efforts to regain their colonial empire in Asia. That's why, for example, when our troops were pinned down in Michelin-claimed (formerly owned) rubber plantations, the U.S. military was prevented from laying down artillery fire because the French owned tire company protested at the damage to its rubber trees if we saved the lives of our troops. By November 1963, curiously the same month JFK was assassinated, the U.S. had concluded that its ally Diem was no longer tractable as our puppet ruler of South Vietnam, and the CIA 'terminated' him 'with extreme prejudice'. Supposedly, Ho Chi Minh stated that he could scarcely believe the U.S. could 'be so stupid'.
It is starting to look as if Al Maliki is the Diem of the moment. To understand the parallels with our mistaken handling of Vietnam, here's a quick look. We continue to push for a united 'Iraq', which is an artificial and meaningless client nation created by Western oil interests after the fall of the Ottoman empire, and the withdrawal of French and British imperial forces after the European collapse in World War II. The U.S. has stepped in to maintain the oil cartels as proxy Eurocentric leader, in combination with its OPEC realities (or Saudi/OPEC allies forced by the 1970s realpolitik of oil producing nations). Instead of working with the regional ethnic realities, we continue to try and force a 1920s vision upon a 2014 reality, and the results can only be distastrous. At latest word, we or our proxies have replaced Al Maliki with a protégé, a gray and faceless Shi'a suit named Al Badi. There is no way this guy can rescue a sinking ship. Rather, look for a coup instigated by Shi'a clergy (e.g., the Sadr Army) orchestrated by Qom and Tehran sometime in the next 30 to 60 days as the U.S.-supported regime in Baghdad collapses and ISIS/L resumes its push on Baghdad. We are missing a golden opportunity to prevent the alignment of the oil-rich Basra region with the extremist regime next door in Iran. The inevitable next step will be a war between Sunni and Shi'a armies in the south and southeast of the former Iraq, possibly resulting in disturbances to the world oil supply and global economy. The real power split in the north is between Kurdish self-determination and Turkish interests to suppress the nationalist aspirations of their 25% Kurdish minority who are native to large swaths of Turkish territory inherited from the Ottomans. Iran and Syria also have an interest in suppressing Kurdistan, which lingers in the background for eventual resolution. The ultimate outcome is predictable: oil-rich Basra aligned with Tehran, oil-rich Kirkuk in control by Kurds but eventually under assault by Turkish and Iranian armies or proxies. After Bashir al Assad is gone, and the Alawites are removed from power in Syria, expect a Sunni realignment suitable to Saudi, Jordanian, Turkish, and Egyptian interests. This should potentially have a positive influence on the Israeli Gaza problem, since it appears Hamas and old Arafat hangovers are losing their grip on power. Palestinians will eventually tire of being tools in the service of vanished dictators whose rallying cry is the destruction of Israel. While the future offers little hope of relaxation for the Israelis, there is a possibility of a joint resolution by which Israel and Palestine mutually recognize each other as legitimate nations with a right to exist. This appears to be the outcome most favorable to the cynical, cowardly, opportunistic oil sheikhdoms surrounding Israel. The larger question, however, is how long the mythical, western-created kingdoms can survive in a new reality where Persia once again asserts its historical, 5,000+ year surge to dominate the regionwith Israel's position in that new reality being likely a fortress state as it has been since 1948.
Back to the presentAl Maliki is a corrupt opportunist, running on the energy of Shi'a revenge. He is an inevitable consequence of decades of Sunni domination by a series of utterly mundane and predictable players: a phony 'king' set up by Western colonial powers, followed by a Soviet client dictator during the Cold War, who was supplanted by a survivor dictator (Saddam) totally out of control (like his counterparts Quadafi, Assad, et al), followed by the Bush/Cheney invasion of 2003. The pointless but opportunistic Iraq war enriched U.S. corporate/Republican interests, destabilized the region in large part as an effort by the wrong pro-Israel interests to do the wrong thing to secure Israel against barking dogs like Saddam, and has left the region predictably in chaos. The problem is that we seem to always be on the wrong side of history, because we lack the vision to understand our own position in the world, in the first place, and everyone else's in the second place.
Bring In Big Minh. After Diem, the phony government of South Vietnam underwent a series of coups by various factions and opportunistic generals. The Nixon Regime sabotaged peace talks in 1973 in order for Nixon to gain reelection in 1974, by which time South Vietnam had been thoroughly betrayed and the stage was set for the inevitable reunification of Vietnam as an independent nation, under a form of government Washington hated but was paralyzed to prevent. In a few months (2015) will be the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon as a Western puppet capital. Has the world ended? No. But the families of 58,000+ lost U.S. service members are left with a shiny black wall in Washington, which may soon have an extension for Iraq and Afghanistan dead. And the U.S. has long since been forced to make peace with the Communist regimes of not only Vietnam but Red China. Since we never learn, similar events will play out in Mesopotamia.
The United States continues to be in danger of slipping down the same rabbit hole we did in the 1960s in Vietnam. The Bush/Cheney invasion of 2003 may seem like a monstrously foolish act in hindsight, but be assured that the usual people made their billions supplying everything from boots to buttons, and armor to artillery. Beyond propaganda and facile ideas, we need to let go of the false vision of imposing a Western-style 'nation' or notion upon a region where this concept is alien and meaningless. We need to work separately with the Kurds, the Shi'a, and the Sunnis to help them realize their separate self-determinations. Ironically, if we are ever to see the realization of our false goal of a 'unified Iraq' in the form of a stable, peaceful Mesopotamia, it will be through this realpolitik, not the zealous but myopic, Cromwellian Puritanism (our own form of ISIS/L) that is the U.S.' knee-jerk approach to a world it never wanted to be engaged with (except for the monetary ambitions of our corporate elite ownership). Sadly, too, the nature of that elite is changing as the corporate investor base becomes increasingly global and non-U.S. based, so that the U.S. is rapidly losing its sovereignty and becoming a patchwork of feudal fiefdoms (confederacy) divided and conquered by investors in India, Europe, Red China, and Brazil (throw in lots of other names for the offshoring of our national interests, not to mention the well-being of U.S. workers and the vanishing middle class).
We need to also be conscious of shifting realities, such as the Turks' necessary (and ongoing) accommodation with their former Kurdish subjects. The Ottoman empire is perhaps not done undoing, but there is no perhaps in the fate of our Western row of dominos. At this moment, the West is installing a meaningless bureaucrat to take Maliki's place. Perhaps we won't put him in the trunk of a car and fill it with bullets, as we did with Diem. But we are proceeding in the wrong direction (once again) on the busy highway of history. At this rate, prepare for another massive wreckage, and the inevitable stupid questionswhat went wrong? What happened? Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
To Be Clear: We need to quietly abandon the pretense of a united Iraq. If we were to become realists, we would be working with separate entities to help them achieve their natural, logical, and correct goals of self-determination. That means the Kurds as Kurdistan, the Sunnis as some sort of Nineveh or whatever, and the Shi'a as a regional entity in their own right. Our interest is one thing: oil. Legitimately, all corporate global imperialsm aside, the unimpeded flow of oil is necessary to prevent the world economy from collapsing overnight. The ISIS/L leadership is well aware of this. Bush 41 was well aware of it when he assembled an unprecedented alliance of over 100 nations in 1991 to push back Saddam from Kuwait and the oilfields in the south (which our former puppet Saddam set on fire as we pushed him back, demonstrating his amorality and thus the ruthless Cold War machinations of U.S./Western policies in Chile, Vietnam, and other points of contest with the Second World. We can be forging centurial alliances with some of these people, especially the Kurds. But will sanity and decency prevail? Or will the wrong leadership carry us to another disastrous outcome? More on these issues soon
Copyright © 2014 by John T. Cullen. All Rights Reserved.