Iraq And The Folly Of Sovereignty

Sovereignty, in political theory, is a substantive term designating supreme authority over some polity.”

Wikipedia

It was inevitable, of course.

John McCain, who still can’t believe voters thwarted his Commander-in-Chief aspirations six years ago, appearing on MSNBC this morning, blamed President Obama for what is happening in Iraq:

What about the fact we had it won?…Gen. Petraeus had the conflict won, thanks to the surge. And if we had left a residual force behind…we would not be facing the crisis we are today. Those are fundamental facts … The fact is, we had the conflict won and we had a stable government…But the president wanted out, and now, we are paying a very heavy price. And I predicted it in 2011.

This blame-Obama-first reaction we all expect from Republicans whenever anything at all goes wrong, but it is utterly and demonstrably false in this case. Republicans forget that the original agreement with the Iraqis to pull out of their country was signed by none other than George W. Bush in 2008, an agreement that specified we would “withdraw from all Iraqi territory, waters, and airspace no later than the 31st of December of 2011.” We did withdraw in December of 2011. So, how all the latest developments are Obama’s fault is beyond me, but not surprising, given the level of hatred for the president among right-wingers.

What seems surprising to me, though, is McCain’s “we had it won” claim, which is beyond ridiculous. George Bush famously thought we had it won when he spoke on board the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 with a “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him, saying,

In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. 

Yeah, well, people should remember that most of the dead and wounded became dead and wounded after those infamous words. Bush also told us in that 2003 speech:

The Battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001, and still goes on…The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al-Qaida, and cut off a source of terrorist funding.

Leave aside that lie about the Iraqis being “an ally of al-Qaida”—former CIA Director George Tenet took care of that by admitting that the Bushies “could never verify there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al-Qaida for 9/11 or any operational act against America, period”—and focus only on the claim of victory, a claim that was not only unsupported by the evidence at the time, but a claim that could never have come true under any circumstances. Obviously, in terms of defeating the Iraqi military and putting ourselves into a position of occupying the country, we were successful. That’s what we are good at. We are the best. The Iraqi army, knowing we are the best, didn’t really fight, and the much-vaunted Republican Guard decided they weren’t going to die, 72 virgins or no 72 virgins, for their fellow tribesman, Saddam Hussein.

But that U.S. military triumph wasn’t the real victory that the Bush and his neo-conservative allies envisioned when they undertook the very stupid and very costly war against Hussein’s Baathist regime. In their heads were “the images of celebrating Iraqis,” as Bush noted in his celebratory speech, grateful folks who would welcome us with open arms for liberating them from “their own enslavement.” But Iraq as we knew it then and Iraq as we know it now was and is never going to be a place where, in Bush’s words on that aircraft carrier eleven years ago, we could “stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people.”

For his part, President Obama, although much more restrained, said some things to Americans in 2011 about the end of the eight-year-long Iraq war that don’t sound so good today:

It’s harder to end a war than begin one.  Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq — all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering — all of it has led to this moment of success.  Now, Iraq is not a perfect place.  It has many challenges ahead.  But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.  

So much for a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq. This morning I heard Iraq’s ambassador to the United States essentially begging for more help from Americans, dismissing the fact that his country’s Shia leader, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, failed to reach a deal with the Obama administration on a status of forces agreement that would john mccain and iraqhave kept, perhaps unwisely for us, thousands of U.S. troops in his country. But worst than that, Maliki failed to govern the divided country in a way that had any chance of success. He did nothing to make sure the rights of the Sunni minority were protected. In fact, as Vox.com noted, he ordered the mass-arrest of Sunni civilians and the killing of peaceful Sunni protesters. He essentially “built a Shia sectarian state.” All of which allowed a violent Sunni insurgency to grow and strengthen.

As I said, it was the subsequent occupation of Iraq that cost us so much in lives and treasure. And it was during that occupation, if not before, where all of us should have realized that there would never be anything happen in Iraq that we could call a victory and truly claim mission accomplished. Patrick Cockburn, who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 and who has written four books on the contemporary history of Iraq, said of the American occupiers that we “were in a mood of exaggerated imperial arrogance” and failed to see what was coming:

In that first year of the occupation it was easy to tell which way the wind was blowing. Whenever there was an American soldier killed or wounded in Baghdad, I would drive there immediately. Always there were cheering crowds standing by the smoking remains of a Humvee or a dark bloodstain on the road. After one shooting of a soldier, a man told me: “I am a poor man but my family is going to celebrate what happened by cooking chicken.” Yet this was the moment when President Bush and his Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, were saying that the insurgents were “remnants of the old regime” and “dead enders”.

Cockburn also makes an important point that it wasn’t just Americans who were willfully blind about the nature of the Iraqi state: “There was also misconception among Iraqis about the depth of the divisions within their own society.” Objective outsiders should have seen that Iraq is not a real country. Force has held it together since the British (without going into why, but it had a lot to do with oil) first tried to weld into one country the old Ottoman-controlled provinces of Mosul, Baghdad, and Basra. Keeping these people, the Kurds, the Sunnis, and the Shias, under one nation-state roof has proved to be impossible without lots and lots of oppression and killing. And the killing continues today, as we see in the news.

Leaving aside all of the Republican nonsense about blaming Obama for the ongoing disintegration of Iraq, the question, obviously, is what should the U.S. do now? And that, like almost all foreign policy questions, is not John McCain-simple. I have heard some people, including some Democrats, say do nothing. Let the Iraqis handle their own problems. But as President Obama said today, “Nobody has an interest in seeing terrorists gain a foothold inside of Iraq and nobody is going to benefit from seeing Iraq descend into chaos. The United States will do our part.”

Okay. Let’s start with what might be part of a long-term strategy. It appears to be time to reconsider Joe Biden’s old proposal, which he made while still a U.S. senator in 2007. Biden sponsored an amendment to a defense bill, which passed the Senate 75-23, that James Oliphant, no friend of Democrats or progressives, summarized this way:

The amendment requires the United States to work to support the division of Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions, each governed locally by its dominant ethnic and religious factions, the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. The regions would have dominion over police protection, jobs, utilities and other municipal functions, supported by a weaker federal government in Baghdad. All three regions would share in the country’s oil revenues.

The wisdom of that difficult-to-implement proposal only increases with time. It appears to be the only realistic solution, if there is a solution, to an otherwise insoluble problem. But that is a possible long-term solution. For now, while a rather violent and venomous group of jihadists are capturing Iraqi cities one by one and headed for Baghdad—due to, once again, widespread desertion by the “national” army—we can’t stand by and do nothing. We do have a national interest in making sure, as best we can without engaging in another war, that the utterly brutal Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which, as The Washington Post points out, now “effectively governs a nation-size tract of territory,” does not take over the entire place.

The Post also says the militant Islamic group “has become a far more lethal, effective and powerful force than it was when U.S. forces were present in Iraq,” and quotes a former adviser to both Bush and Obama on Iraq:

This is a force that is ideologically motivated, battle hardened and incredibly well equipped. It also runs the equivalent of a state. It has all the trappings of a state, just not an internationally recognized one.

Just what effective actions the U.S. could take in the short-term isn’t clear to me. But it isn’t clear to war-hawk John McCain either. For all his bluster, he is reduced to saying there are “no good options.” Yeah, well, thanks for that sage advice, Senator. And, thank God or Allah, you are still only a senator.

Sharing intelligence with the Iraqi government, such as it is, is obviously a good place to start. Perhaps drone strikes and other air attacks are in order. Perhaps other forms of aid will do some good. But one thing we know, despite what the logic of John McCain’s criticisms entails,

We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq.

Those are the words of, thankfully, the real Commander in Chief.

16 Comments

  1. Troy

     /  June 13, 2014

    Great post my brotha! But I hear the sounds of distant drums! Thank you Mr. “Dickhead” Cheney !

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    • I hear ya. The Supreme Court handing the 2000 election to George Bush and Dick Cheney is a gift that will keep giving for a long, long time. A big thank you goes out to those 538 people who did not vote but could have gone to the polls and voted for Gore, which would have made a difference (he lost by 537 votes). Or a big thank you is in order to those 269 people who did vote but if they had voted for Gore instead of Bush, we wouldn’t be in this mess right now.

      And don’t even get me started on those who voted for Ralph Nader.

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      • King Beauregard

         /  June 18, 2014

        It’s easy to focus on 500 people, or 5000; but in a nation of hundreds of millions of people, I say blame every eligible voter who didn’t vote for Gore. That includes Bush supporters, Nader supporters, Buchanan supporters, and non-voters all.

        Now, my secret shame: in 2000 I was a Nader supporter, but I didn’t even vote. To be fair I’d recently moved and I didn’t even remember to correct my voter registration until three weeks before election day, by which point it was too late, so that was a clerical error rather than bad judgment. But the fact that I would have voted for Nader makes me a tool.

        I can tell you that I was so disgusted with Clinton’s foreign policy that there was no way I was going to vote Democrat. Sanctions against Iraq mostly to inflict misery on the Iraqi people? An intervention in Kosovo that, per the Rambouillet Agreement, seemed to be about privatiing Kosovo’s coal reserves rather than helping targets of genocide? There was a lot to despise about Clinton’s foreign policy. And yet, it was still better than anything Bush II inflicted upon us.

        Back in 2000, I think a person could say they didn’t foresee exactly how bad the Republicans would get. It’s still not an excuse, but it wasn’t like these days, when the differences between the Democrats and Republicans are crystal clear to anyone who isn’t emotionally invested in “they’re all exactly the same, maaaan”.

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        • King B,

          I appreciate your honesty. This blog is a blog of repentance. I am sorry to say that during the 2000 election I was in a bit of a fog. I was in a transition from hard-core conservatism and evangelical Christianity to where I am today, with some steps in between. I cannot honestly tell you how or even if I ultimately voted in that election (except that I did not vote for Gore; I may have voted for Harry Browne, the libertarian, since I went through a short libertarian phase as I was leaving conservatism). I was struggling with my faith. I was struggling with my politics.

          It wasn’t until the 2004 election that I finally voted for a Democrat. During the three or four years before that I became very involved in union activity and sometime during the year 2002 or thereabouts, I realized that the Bush administration, by its political appointees to certain government agencies, was actually hurting the people I had pledged to represent (I became branch president in December of 2002). I also was engaged in discussions with people in the union movement and, in particular, a veteran who was very adamant about how wrong it was to go to war with Iraq (and by adamant I mean fighting mad). After a period of time, given all I was seeing as a union rep, given the fact I eventually moved away from evangelical Christianity (which was, for me, tied up with Republican politics), given how I came to see the Iraq war (largely thanks to my adamant friend), I finally put down my arms and began to think of myself as a Democrat. After all, my parents were both Humphrey Democrats, working people like the people I represented in the union. It wasn’t all that strange to me in one sense.

          So, it wasn’t long before I not only called myself a Democrat, but I began to realize that a robust liberalism, especially in economic matters related to working and poor people, was where my heart–and mind–were headed. I began to re-read all my conservative writers, but this time from the point of view of a liberal. And, boy, was I amazed. Reading Buckley and Sobran and Will, et al., after so many years of admiring the minds and philosophy of these writers, opened my eyes to just how wrong I had been, just how much I had been the servant of an ideology that cleverly, if insidiously, pitted folks like me against our own economic interests.

          Thus, like you, I had a “secret shame.” And that shame is partly why I started writing in the local paper again (although rarely these days) and partly why I started this blog and is partly why, despite how time-consuming it can be, I maintain it (although I confess that I do get much pleasure interacting with people like you and others who contribute to the comment section; such interaction and stimulation is largely why I keep going).

          Duane

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  2. Outstanding summary of the problem, Duane.

    Memo to those who in the future might advocate conquest, a.k.a. shock and awe, as a solution to terrorism:

    1. If you break it, you buy it.
    2. Polity in any nation must be based on its common interests and ethnicity; it can not be imposed by another nation.

    Like

  3. ansonburlingame

     /  June 14, 2014

    Duane,

    I see this blog as a two part essay. I address both, how Bush II and his administration failed and how best to deal with Iraq today.

    First the Bush II mistakes. There are plenty to pass around and we agree on some of them.

    Should we have ever invaded Iraq is the big one. In hindsight, No, is the clear answer. But remember the “climate” in 2003, where America and Americans were still seething over 9/11. Would a Gore administration made a different choice? Probably, but that assumes that subsequent events would have played out better in America’s interests. We’ll never know for sure. It is like conservatives saying had Obama not come into power our recovery from economic turmoil would have been better. We can only guess.

    “MIssion Accomplished” is only a symptom of a deeper problem. In the past, particularly after WWII, the “American way” prevailed in the reconstruction of Western Europe and Japan. Did Bush II and many others think that after the actual “war” the successful invasion of Iraq by military forces and a subsequent attempt at implementation of American ideals in Iraq would prove as successful as the occupation of Germany, etc. in the 1950’s? Maybe. Recall the ridiculous “put them back on bicycles” term used by Rumsfeld.

    Did the Petraeus surge succeed? That of course depends. But without the surge the American withdrawal from Iraq could have turned into the same withdrawal seen in Vietnam, flying the last America’s off the roof in the “green zone” with heliocopters!!! At least we had a “strategic withdrawal” driven by political decisions, not force of arms in the hands of those opposed to us.

    But all of that has little to do with what America should do today in Iraq, given the current reality on the ground, something foreign policy decisions must take into account.

    That reality both in Iraq and America today is that American military power will not in any way resolve the issues, in Iraq. America can in no way reinsert boots on the ground in Iraq today, politically, financially, even militarily, today. Forget it. And to suggest the use of drones or other forms of airpower is crazy as well, in the long term or even medium term. All that will do is reestablish some form of “control” by the current Iraq government, a supposedly democratically elected government. Then three years later, there we go again.

    We will also see that dilemma play out in Afghanistan, no question in my mind on that count.

    Now for your tenative support for partitioning Iraq. I agree it is a false “country”. But so is the rest of the Middle East, except maybe for Israel, just maybe. Those old post WWI lines in the sand are not countries with unique cultural, political and social unity and truly democratically elected and sustainable as such governments. Power, raw power, is all that really holds any Middle Eastern country together today, including Egypt. Partition Iraq would be like trying to partition Syria, or even Egypt today. Draw new lines by international decree, UN or other decree, and the people left on the ground behind new lines will soon be crossing them, again.

    Consider a far fetched example. What if Europe had decided to intervene (just assume for arguements sake they could do so) in the American Civil War. After some form of stalemate on the battlefield it was decided to leave North and South two distinct countries, by international decree. Wow!!

    Instead, Europe decided to let Americans sort out our regional differences and we in America decided what next to do, only after real victory on the battlefield, decisive victory followed by rather brutal “occupation” by carpet baggers supported by and large by the reconstituted American government. We are still feeling the effects 150 plus years later as well.

    Would it be possible for America to now just “let Middle Easterners” decide what to do and then wait 150 years to see the result??? Wow, again!!

    Permit me to pose a different path for America, in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. Just shut down the American arms supply to anyone in the Middle East, period. What could be a possible outcome of such an extraordinary decision, a unilateral American decision?

    Well, maybe, just maybe, a new Middle East would constitute itself, after maybe 100 years. Would it look like the old Ottoman Empire, the entire area under some form of control by a central, Muslim authority? Would that be in America’s best interest, forget the rest of the world. Big question, is it not? But long ago America really could care less about what the Ottoman Empire and Europe, and Russia decided to do. So true isolationists would perhaps consider that alternative.

    Ridiculous most would say, today, in America and around the world.

    OK, then do what we have been doing since WWII in the Middle East. How well is that working out for America today? We try to enforce false lines in the sand, pick and choose winners and losers with little success today, other than Israel so far. Is that good enough?

    I do know this much, which is not much for sure. Given modern technology, everything from electricity to nuclear weapons and all in between, the War (like it or not) goes on between American values and Muslim values. They are as distinctly different as American democracy and Soviet communism except they are both culturally and religiously different, not just economic differences, how to run an economic country. Technology allows that War (I still like the phrase War on Terror) to be a much bigger threat to America than did the old Ottoman Empire of long ago.

    I also have this rather fundamental belief. Over the long haul at least American values will be much more appealing to any “people” than Sharia Law, raw power of a religious nature, brutally imposed on anyone. Can we wait that long for our American values to prevail?

    I’m not sure at all, being able to wait that long. That is because I’m no longer sure America understands what values really count any longer. America itself is in the midst of a big cultural divide and I have no idea how long THAT will take to be sorted out. Do you?

    You will see, if you choose to look, a companion blog by me on “honor and distinction”, a phrase being bandied around today over the Bergdahl debacle.

    Anson

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  4. Duane,

    IMHO, there are three major problems with the Middle East – Israel, Oil, and the United States.

    What’s going on in Iraq today is a direct result of actions of the U.S. of A., especially the actions that began in March 2003, when Bush ordered “shock and awe” to be dropped on Saddam Hussein’s head. That effort was doomed from the start. So it should be no surprise that Iraq is now in a sectarian war, that its weak government is on the verge of collapse, and that the consequences of our stupidity are now falling, tragically, on the Iraqi people.

    There has been a lot of analysis on the current situation in Iraq by people more knowledgeable than me, who understand the political and religious dynamics. My only observation is that we do as little as possible in the way of military aid, whether by air, land, or sea.

    In consideration of Jim’s advise above, I’d say we need to issue a giant apology and let the thing play out. It will be ugly, but it will be uglier if we create more blowback from our interference. It is this blowback, of course, going back decades, that lead to the build-up of Al-Qaeda and the subsequent tragedy of 9/11. Now there is an even more militant group called ISIS.

    Even little Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who inspired the world after taking a Taliban bullet to the head, told Obama when she was here in the U.S., that every bomb dropped, every drone strike, whether in Pakistan, or Afghanistan, or Yemen, was just creating more hatred of the U.S. thereby turning more and more people into terrorists.

    Well, the hawks, including John “never-met-a-microphone-he didn’t-like” McCain and his attached twin Lindsey “Obama-did-it” Graham, among others, are not having any of that. In effect, they say Obama shouldn’t listen to little Malala. They have to keep the hysteria in play – and conveniently forget how this mess got started in the first place.

    It should be remembered here too that after the division into the Sunnis (followers of Mohammad’s friend Abu Bakr) and Shias (followers Mohammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali) in 680 CE., peace endured for many centuries, with occasional interruptions by the Catholic Crusades and the rise of the Ottoman Empire. Then somebody discovered oil, we had WWI and WWII, the Jews kicked out the Palestinians, and some idiot took a shot at George H. W. Bush. The rest, as they say, . . .

    We all had a great time discussing reparations to African-Americans a few posts ago. I think a case can be made that the Iraqi people are due some reparations for our misguided actions in their country resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the destruction of much of their infrastructure. We’ll never pay it of course, but maybe we at least have a moral obligation not to make it worse.

    Herb

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    • King Beauregard

       /  June 15, 2014

      “But remember the “climate” in 2003, where America and Americans were still seething over 9/11.”

      I remember that climate, where Bush and company tried to associate Iraq with 9/11, and were wildly successful. Our involvement in Iraq was not a response to 9/11, it was a calculated move by your party. Which of course was an equal and opposite reaction to whatever Obama was doing at the time (most likely changing diapers), which makes it Obama’s fault.

      “Should we have ever invaded Iraq is the big one. In hindsight, No, is the clear answer.”

      It was clear at the time as well, but you and yours were too busy enjoying a legal high from moral indignation to be at all realistic. Here’s an Onion article from the time; people had already sussed that Iraq would be a disaster, they just weren’t people you pay any attention to:

      http://www.theonion.com/articles/this-war-will-destabilize-the-entire-mideast-regio,11534/

      It’s a shame that Obama kept you from listening to your betters.

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      • Holy oracle, KB! That Onion link from 2003 was, like, time travel, dude! I wish it would be reprinted on every front page in the country. Would say more, but am stuck with iPad for a while.

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        • King Beauregard

           /  June 16, 2014

          I remember the run-up to Iraq very well; the one thing we anti-war types weren’t sure about was how big Saddam’s existing arsenal was — while we saw that Bush was trying to make excuses for invasion, there was still the likelihood that Saddam still had at least some small arsenal, and it didn’t seem prudent to force a fight with a guy with chemical weapons.

          The punchline we didn’t see coming was that he would have EXACTLY ZERO chemical weapons. Not even a storage closet somewhere with three old cans of poison.

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  5. ansonburlingame

     /  June 15, 2014

    Herb,

    You understate the problems in the Middle East, in my view. Those problems are far more than just “Israel, Oil and the United States”. Remember it was Europe that drew false lines in the sands, about 100 years ago and those lines cause all sorts of problems in that region today. It is Europe that really needs the Oil, now, not America by and large. And Israel has little to do with a Sunni-Shia civil war emerging in Iraq today, or the Sunni led onslaught in Syria today. Those are religious differences playing out like our racial differences embroil us in America today.

    You call for an American apology to ……, who exactly? Alqaeda, OBL, Iran, Hezbollha, Hamas, the President of Syria, etc? You want to apologize to Iraqi citizens from removing a brutal dictator that held that country together striclty through brute force?

    Now reparations to Iraq today you suggest? I wonder how many billions, if not a trillion or so, have been poured into that country for over 10 years now. And you can bet your bippy we will pour in more later on into Afghanistan. Even if reparations was appropriate, where in the world would you suggest America find the money to pay for them. Holy Cow!!

    Please explain!!

    Anson

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  6. Anson,

    “You understate the problems in the Middle East, in my view,” you say. True, there are more problems in the Middle East in 2014. I was trying to simplify the past influences I see as having gotten us into the mess now — what Jon Stewart calls, “Mess O’Potamia.”

    Of my trio of problems I see leading to the current crisis in the Middle East, the first one, Oil, is what established the U.S. “Security Interest” in that part of the world.

    After WWI, and the resulting oil shortage, U.S. oil companies found a way to get themselves involved, starting with the formation of Saudi Aramco, which began in 1932 with Socal; Chevron today. Later on, Texaco, Mobile, Exxon and others joined up. In 1951, the “Consortium of Iran” was established and run by oil companies that came to be called the “Seven Sisters.” Five of the Sisters were American.

    The point being that the U.S. involvement vis a vis our petroleum companies gave us a major stake in the geopolitical activities in this area. Of course, the CIA “helped” with the political situation by staging coups like the one that put the Shaw of Iran in power. This influx of American involvement has contributed, I believe, to the resentment by the people in that region toward us.

    Then there is Israel. For this one, we have to go back to the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Here in the middle of WWI was some serious thinking about a new Jewish state that could be established in the post-war Middle East. The Declaration read in part, “His Majesty’s [King of England] government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine . . .”

    Not surprisingly, the Declaration was not well received, with the Arab states, including Turkey, rejecting the idea outright. And they were joined, interestingly, by the “Muslim-Christian Association.”

    Anyway, you know the history of modern Israel from its bloody creation in 1948 up to now. It is a country that seems out of place in the Islamic dominated Middle East. So this too has lead to more resentment by the Muslim population. So much so that, while the U.S. was supporting Israel, the Soviet Union got its foot in the door providing military equipment, heavy construction, and other support.

    All of the foregoing have combined to make my third guilty party, the United States, its own worst enemy. We are Pogo saying, in the case of the Middle East, we have met the enemy and he is us.

    Here’s a little of what Wikipedia says about it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Middle_East Modern States): “The departure of the European powers from direct control of the region, the establishment of Israel, and the increasing importance of the oil industry, marked the creation of the modern Middle East. These developments led to a growing presence of the United States in Middle East affairs. The U.S. was the ultimate guarantor of the stability of the region, and from the 1950s the dominant force in the oil industry. When revolutions brought radical anti-Western regimes to power in Egypt in 1954, Syria in 1963, Iraq in 1968 and Libya in 1969, the Soviet Union, seeking to open a new arena of the Cold War in the Middle East, allied itself with Arab socialist rulers such as Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

    “These regimes gained popular support through their promises to destroy the state of Israel, defeat the U.S. and other “western imperialists,” and to bring prosperity to the Arab masses. When the Six-Day War of 1967 between Israel and its neighbors ended in a decisive loss for the Muslim side, many in the Islamic world saw this as the failure of Arab socialism. This represents a turning point when “fundamental and militant Islam began to fill the political vacuum created.”

    Now add that background into the Second Iraq War, our attacks on who we think are terrorists in any Muslim country, and an inane foreign policy in the area, and it’s easy to see that we are just creating more terrorists with every passing day.

    The foregoing, as extensive as it is, takes care of your first paragraph above. As to the apology, I think it should be to all the people in the region and especially to the people of the U.S. for having squandered our blood and treasure on an exercise in futility, which was foreseeable.

    Lastly, you ask about reparations. I meant that only rhetorically. As I said in the last sentence above, “We’ll never pay it [reparations] of course, but maybe we at least have a moral obligation not to make it worse.”

    Herb

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  7. ansonburlingame

     /  June 17, 2014

    Was the Marshall Plan, reparations to Germany? No way. Should we do something like that in the Middle East today? No way, either. One we don’t have the money any longer and two, just who in the hell would you give the money to, “the people”?????

    I submit the problems in the Middle East, today, are a vast cultural difference between Muslims with a “desert” culture, embedded in about a 1500 year old theology and what America stands for, or used to stand for at least, today. Israel, today, is a good excuse to inflame Muslim passions, Palestinians in particularly, but it is no longer a real geopolitical issue, expect MAYBE as a staging base for an invasion of the entire region by American power, which we no longer have to exercise, either.

    Over the passed year, Herb, I have read almost the entire Koran (in English, not Arabic!). It is by and large an Old Testament for how to live life, in the desert by and large. Just where would America and Europe be today if we tried to live only by Old Testament precipes? They certainly would not be the countries and regions they are today. And many Muslims want to do exactly that, arrange an Old Testament world for all to live. Yikes!!!

    I am willing to co-exist with such a region, for sure. Each to his own if you like. But when that region of zealots within it pull a 9/11, well you know how I feel about that as well. I call for many missiles up the ass of such people with Al-U-Akbar labled on each missile if you will!! Of course that is an exaggeration so take it as such. Let’s figure out a way to co-exist for as long as it takes for people in the Middle East to themselves rid themselves of “Old Testament religion” if you will.

    As for “Oil”. Well another exaggeration, but we and Europe can just “nuke’em”. THAT is our short term supply of essentially endless energey, until fusion is found to be safe and secure and “natural power” (solar, geothermal, etc.) becomes economically feasible.

    Just imagine an America, with essentially all the electricity we can possibly use and transportation on hydrogen power alone. Europe could join us in that approach as well and stop all the “climate change” rhetoric. I believe climate change is real, by the way, but a “carbon tax” is crazy as well. Let’s live in the long term solution and get there as best and as fast as we can, before the oceans swallow up Miami.

    Anson

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    • Been to Miami. The oceans can have it.

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    • I believe you mean Allah Akbar. Al-U-Akbar is the owner of discount tent stores. Putting his name on missiles makes no sense. Yikes!!!

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      • Juan,

        Pardon me for correcting you, but I think you have it a bit wrong. Al-U-Akbar actually owned the first steak house and sushi bar (go figure!) in the Deep South (go figure again!). The guy who started the discount tent stores was his brother, Bill. But you are right, it would make no sense to scribble “Al” on a terrorist-seeking missile. Unless, of course, the missile was filled with otherwise inedible sushi. Then I could sort of see a connection.

        Your welcome,
        Duane

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