Friday, June 13, 2014

Desert Stormed

Baghdad coffeehouse, 19th century.
“The first thing I think we need to do is call together the people that succeeded in Iraq, those that have been retired,” the senator continued. “And get together that group and place them in responsibility positions so that they can develop a policy to reverse this tide of radical Islamic extremism, which directly threatens the security of the United States of America.” (Via)
Yes, McCain wants a team of Super Friends under the firm but friendly command of General Petraeus and old Fred Kagan tagging along behind with his clipboard to come and surge those militant Sunni suckers back into Syria, where he can ship them [jump]
more weapons and maybe slip them a little of that air support, because in Syria they're his pals, unless they aren't, because who knows, this stuff is pretty complicated. But Petraeus can figure it out. He succeeded, last time.

The president should have kept American forces in Iraq after Petraeus succeeded, because Japan and Germany. We won World War II in 1945, and yet we still have troops in those countries! Because the minute we leave Okinawa, Japan is going to plunge into civil war between the Buddhists and the Shinto supporters? No, really?

The World War II troops aren't there to watch out for leftover bits of World War II. They're to watch out for our World War II allies, Russia and China, because World War II and the Chinese Civil War are over, but the Cold War isn't. Even though Ronald Reagan succeeded, just like General Petraeus did. Maybe we should have kept troops in Iraq to keep an eye on Saudi Arabia (and Iran too, no doubt, but Iran isn't funding the Qa'idists, they're just taking care of Assad in Syria and Maliki in Iraq—unlike Senator McCain, they have a clue which side they're on).
Wastani Gate, Baghdad.
I don't feel as if there's anybody out there in Cokieland who understands how cataclysmic the 2003 invasion of Iraq was, how terrible its consequences continue to be, how little there is the US can do to repair the damage. It's not as if they weren't warned, of course. Don't ask me and the six to thirty million of my closest friends that tried to communicate our concern before the operations got started. Ask the CIA:
On Aug. 13, 2002, the CIA completed a classified, six-page intelligence analysis that described the worst scenarios that could arise after a U.S.-led removal of Saddam Hussein: anarchy and territorial breakup in Iraq, a surge of global terrorism, and a deepening of Islamic antipathy toward the United States.

Titled "The Perfect Storm: Planning for Negative Consequences of Invading Iraq," the paper, written seven months before the war began, also speculated about al-Qaeda operatives taking "advantage of a destabilized Iraq to establish secure safe havens from which they can continue their operations..."
Not that they got anything like the whole picture: that Ayatollah Khamenei would be building a real on-the-ground Shi'ite caliphate even as we kept our eyes focused on his imaginary Islamic atomic bomb, or that the secure safe havens of the Qa'ida operatives would tend to wander over the border to Syria, so that when the Arab Spring arrived in Syria on its eastward journey from Tunisia, it would bump right into them, allowing Bashar al-Assad to claim that the sweet democratic demonstrators in Homs and Aleppo were really Sunni terrorists and the Iranian and Iraqi authorities and his own Christian population to believe him. It's half true! His effective opponents really are Sunni terrorists. The only part he left out is that he's just as bad as they are.

It's one big war now, in Iraq and Syria both, and causing terrible instability throughout the region, especially among the relatively innocent parties in Lebanon and Turkey and Jordan, and there are no good guys, or at least no good guys with heavy weapons. Everybody's complaining now about the ruthlessness of the ISIS forces, which is undoubtedly pretty dreadful, but where were they when Maliki's forces were murdering civilians by the dozens in airstrikes over Ramadi and Falluja in recent months?
Many of those who fled [from Mosul] said they were terrified of possible airstrikes and indiscriminate shelling that they have seen, in news reports, against insurgents in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, which has been out of government control for more than six months. Some, saying a rumor had been swirling through the local population, even worried that the Americans would be back to bomb their city. And most said the militants in Mosul had not terrorized the population and were keeping a low profile, with a small number of men in black masks staffing checkpoints.
Iyad Allawi (remember him? He was the CIA's thug when Fourthbranch Dick Cheney was backing Ahmad Chalabi and the Curveballs) turned up on BBC this morning blaming Maliki for the current situation, with some justice: Maliki's consistent refusal to accord normal civil rights to the Sunni population is surely the most important immediate factor. Shockingly, Allawi's voice—urging the international community to stay out to avoid making things worse—is about the most reasonable and best informed one I've heard.

But it's important to remember that it was George W. Bush and his henchmen who broke these countries in the first place, because it's only by understanding that that we can understand the most vital thing: that it's too late to fix it; it's been too late for 11 years.
From Cooking with the Caliphs (via the historic gastronomy site Four Pounds Flour).


I think Obama sort of gets it. That's a relief. Iran has already sent troops in, via Juan Cole, but luckily they're on Senator McCain's side. Hope his head doesn't explode too noisily.

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