Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Too Many Cooks

The United States, with its "one size fits all, so long as it's our size" approach is learning some tough lessons in reality from the Iraq war.

One lesson is that you can only expect so much from multi-ethnic, hobbled together artificial states. When things go really well it's a lot easier to be an "Iraqi" than when things go badly when it's much easier, sometimes even safer, to fall back into being an Arab or Kurd, Sunni or Shiite who just happens to live with his or her tribesmen inside some survey lines drawn by the Brits and French a century ago.

Another lesson is that the Middle East is a part of the world where historical grievances have lives of their own. The U.S. itself is still trying, with mixed success at best, to get over its own issues with 18th and 19th century slavery and ingrained 20th, even 21st century racism (see Obama, Barack). Why would it expect peoples with even more recent problems for which there has been no atonement, no forgiveness and healing processes or rituals to just put those grievances aside and forget about them? These are challenges of a generational scale at best and to ignore them or try to sweep them aside is and will be inevitably self-defeating.

Washington has to decide whether it wants a unified, stable Iraq or not. If it wants that sort of Iraq, a properly functioning nation, there are prices that will have to be paid to get there.

One price is recognizing that today's Iraq cannot accommodate the interests of more than one nation. It's going to be a Herculean struggle just to address its own interests and the needs of its people. It's patently ludicrous to believe that Iraq can unify and overcome its internal threats and challenges if America complicates the burden, by an order of magnitude, by leveraging control of Iraq's oil reserves and establishing permanent military bases in that country. It can't be done.

The anything but secure Maliki government is being asked (told) to introduce a national oil law that would allow foreign companies, as in American, to control Iraq's oil fields and exploit its reserves way into the future. Here's the problem. It's in essence the same deal that the French and the British imposed on the Arabs when they were Top Dogs in that same region almost a century ago. It's the same deal that one Arab government after another overthrew in order to establish state control of their oil resources - governments such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran. The wealth from Saudi oil goes to the Saudis, not Texas.

How long will the restive tribes of Iraq put up with an oil regime that's already been overthrown in neighbouring Arab states? Quick answer - not long although there will probably be years of unstable government and violence before they get there.

The permanent military base issue - the one Washington struggles not to mention - is another landmine to a unified Iraq. These bases are already built or under construction. In a peaceful Iraq they would have just one purpose - force projection and that pretty much targets any and all states within aerial refueled, fighter-bomber range of Iraq. I guess that would mean Iran and Syria to be sure but pretty much all of the Persian Gulf region.

Now some, perhaps only a few, Sunnis might begrudgingly accept an American military presence aimed at Shiite Iran but it's hard to see how Iraq's Shiite majority would tolerate it. And here, once again, we have an American policy setting Sunni against Shia - hardly the sort of thing that helps forge unity.

A viable, stable and peaceful Iraq may no more than a fantasy. But if it's worth trying to achieve then all unnecessary pitfalls have to be removed. That means the current Bremer-crafted oil policy and the notion of permanent US military bases in Iraq. If Washington really wants those things it had better give up the notion of democracy for Iraq and start scouting around for a brutal strongman to run the place, someone a lot like the one they just hanged.


Johnathon said...

President G.W. Bush is my hero.

Why you might ask?

Because he sent the troops into Iraq and is baggin' terrorists at a rate of hundreds per day.

I sleep better every night knowing that the USA is fighting the muslims in the muslim land, and not in the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

What a great President.

The Mound of Sound said...

Sorry, Johnathon, but I'm familiar enough with your views that I would never think to ask why you would support that trained chimp. Maybe you might want to ask why so few of your fellow Americans share your views? It seems they've had it up to the gills with that guy.

Johnathon said...

President Bush has a low approval rating because of many factors in the USA.

But since I am currently living in Canada right now, the issues that concern Americans are not my concern.(ie. economy, illegal scumbag aliens, high cost of gas etc.)

Canadians don't like Bush simply because he is not a far left liberal.

That's the only reason, plus he got rid of Saddam, who Chretien supported and still wishes he was in power.

LeDaro said...

Johnathon, your loyalty to Bush is interesting. Even McCain is putting distance between himself and Bush. Many Republican Congressmen and Senators are doing the same because he can prove deadly for their re-election. Are you saying 72% of Americans are left wing liberals? Good for you.You're unique in this respect.

The Mound of Sound said...

Johnathon, this is a time when your native country is in great peril and facing daunting challenges. It needs every clear-headed patriot it can get. People just like you, Johnathon. Can't you hear America calling, pleading, begging for your return, for you to share your invaluable wisdom and insight with your desperate countrymen? Won't you stand up for America, where it matters, at home? You're Number One, You're Number One, You're Number One!!!!