Back to the Future in Iraq

August 12, 2014

We have bombed/invaded or otherwise initiated violent actions in Iraq 17 times in the last 24 years, starting with funding the coup that installed Saddam Hussein as dictator. This is hardly a record number of violent actions, especially compared to the ones we have committed in Latin America, but the scale of carnage is becoming worthy of historic note.

Now, President Obama is about to metaphorically ski down the Iraqi slopes again, claiming to be only doing the minimum to prevent genocide. On one side are the neo-con chicken-hawks who created the disaster we are now dealing with, arguing for another invasion. On the other side are the neo-isolationists who mid-wived the ascent of ISIS (ISIL), arguing for ignoring reality. It is remarkable that there seems to be no one anywhere in a policy making position who acknowledges the hopeless reality that is Iraq and the wider conflicts in the Middle East.

Dick Cheney, possibly the most celebrated war criminal at large, recently admitted that Bush-Cheney knew that social chaos would result when they overthrew Saddam Hussein. This is a remarkable comment, given their absolute failure to plan to preserve social order after the invasion and the profoundly ignorant policies that nurtured the rise of violent chaos. It is a crime of historic proportions, and we are only beginning to pay the price that over a million dead Iraqis have already experienced.

The entire Middle East is an artifact of European colonialism that created artificial countries with politically defined boundaries. The social reality of that area for millennia has been tribalism, not nationalism. The defining identity of people there is their tribe or their sect. The Caliphates briefly united the area under Islam, but the conversion never took and Islam is now as divisive a force as tribalism. Even Israel’s veneer of democracy is paper thin worn by the very reason of its existence: Chosen People in their Chosen Land.  The entire region is the tar pit of democracies.

Historically, only dictatorships have kept the area’s violent nature in check. There isn’t any proven political movement that is their salvation, and every military action we undertake virtually ensures the need for future violence. These people hold blood grudges for centuries. There doesn’t even appear to be any economic salvation either. In our country, economic opportunities have helped transformed past divisions somewhat. We may still hate “those people,” but if we can make money from them, well then welcome! This is not the case in the Middle East, where, even on those rare occasions of economic prosperity, the tribal animus continues unabated.

It seems the best we can do is start to play the intransigent divisions to our advantage: paying them off to kill our enemies (a strategy that worked to end the Sunni insurgence after the invasion), or at least not come after us. A friend of mine has two sons who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and they both recount the same lesson: “They shoot at each other all day long until the Marines come along. Then they both shoot at the Marines until we are gone and go back to killing each other again.”

That is the only lesson we need to remember and base our policy on that.

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Media Begins Second Campaign for War

June 20, 2014

Déjà vu.

I turned on the television to watch the Sunday morning news shows a couple of days ago and it was like watching the same goblins from 2003 spouting their gobbledygook. Crystal, Wolfowitz, Bremer, McCain, Feith, Cheney … the same guys who were wrong about everything concerning Iraq calling for us to invade Iraq (again).

They are even using the same rhetoric (e.g. “the seeds of another 9/11 are being sown again”). That’s doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that the same media who enabled these war mongers in the past are giving them a platform to spew their lies once again.

The entire national media that failed us last time around (miserably) is doing it again. I suppose this means we really can’t trust the media (even the so-called “liberal media”) to play a critical role in telling the truth to power.

Maybe it’s because much of the media has been consolidated to ownership by a few powerful men who view the news not as a public service, but as a entertainment vehicle to sell advertizing. Maybe it also means that if enough of us raise our voices in a collective “no, not again”, they might banish the war goblins out of fear that they might lose advertizing dollars.  

 


Déjà vu – All Over Again

December 4, 2009

I read an interesting excerpt from Mikhail Gorbachov’s autobiography regarding the period of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. He recounted a meeting when the Army and the KGB were advising Soviet leader Brezhnev that 150,000 troops and brutal tactics were not subduing resistance and that the only military and politically feasible solution was to reinforce their occupation with an additional 100,000 troops and then withdraw after a year. Sound familiar?

I share the extreme disappointment of many people in Obama. It started with his economic policy that favored Wall St. at the expense of working men and women (or should I say unemployed men and women?), worsened with his decisions to keep most, if not all, Bush era policies on domestic spying and executive privilege. But the Afghanistan policy has convinced me that Obama is no change at all.
What are we doing in Afghanistan? Obama tells us that our national security depends on it (sound familiar?). How? Why? There are already more terrorist camps in Somalia than there ever were in Afghanistan, there are more al Qaeda in Pakistan than anywhere else in the world. The threat of international terrorism wouldn’t exist at all except for the funding coming from Saudi Arabia. All of those countries are a far greater threat than Afghanistan.

Do you remember the helicopter shot down in Afghanistan last month killing at least 14 soldiers? They were on a mission to capture Taliban who were guarding a cache of money and opium. Guess who owned the money and opium? Karzai’s brother. And how was it that the Taliban had been alerted to the raid and were waiting for us?

Troops there can’t trust the Afghans beyond the last bribe – they literally have to pay Afghan soldiers cash every time in order to get them to go out on patrols.

Another senseless war, this time Obama’s war, and to think I helped him get elected.