Feb 26, 2024
Feb 26, 2024
After WW2, USA was the pre-eminent power in the world. It had the largest economy and military and was the richest creditor nation. In a little over fifty years, it has hollowed out its industry, become a service and casino economy and is the largest debtor of the world. It still has the most powerful military but the setbacks of Vietnam and currently Iraq have exposed the limits of this last remnant of its strength. There is nothing wrong in any nation following amoral policies for its benefit, but if such policies obtain instant benefits by jeopardizing its long-term future, they reveal the intellectual bankruptcy of its leaders and people, blinded by zealotry, hubris or stupidity and ignorance of history and humanity.
American obsession with the Soviet Union and sheer incompetence of its intelligence apparatus combined with the self-serving manipulations of its military-industrial complex, led to a gross exaggeration of the Soviet Union's capabilities. During the Nixon era, the desire to extricate America without admitting defeat, led to the rapprochement with a China fearful of the Soviet Union with the help of Pakistani mediation. This made America turn a blind eye to the Pakistani genocide in its east wing and cemented the relationship with its illegitimate autocratic government of military coups. During the Carter era, when the ideology blinded leaders of the latest Afghan communist coup, decided on radical reform of a backward medieval Islamic, but ethnically fragmented society, that even the Soviet leaders disapproved of, a Polish-American Carter National Security Agency chief, still bearing his early life psychological scars of an oppressed history, got the opportunity to have his revenge by miring his bete de noire into the morass of Afghanistan.
An attention deficit handicapped Reagan with evangelistic zeal of destroying the evil empire, abetted by a cowboy playboy Texan congressman and his craven colleagues, aided by Saudi Arabian leadership itching to show devout Islamic credentials to divert attention from their un-Islamic lifestyle and thievery from the national treasury and intimidated by the Iranian revolution and the Mecca uprising, financed the Mujahedin and created the specter of Osama Bin Laden. They pointedly ignored the clandestine nuclear agenda of Pakistan, supported by China to contain India, and allowed the A. Q. Khan underground nuclear bazaar to flourish. Once again Pakistan became America's blue-eyed baby, to be dumped when its usefulness ceased.
The pattern continues with its current ascendancy because of being needed for the Afghan war and as an entry point to Iran in the future so that America can carry out a three pronged attack on Iran from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The last straw or the third trimester phase of this nuclear tsunami is the result of another Texan cowboy's inept policy of explicitly spelling out and crowing about America's pre-emptive doctrine, which has always been implied ever since the time of Dean Rusk. Conniving at China's not unnatural policy of shoring up Pakistan, led to India's declaration of being an overt nuclear power. This, as expected led to the same declaration by Pakistan, whose raison de etre is to be India's equal despite differences in size, economy and talent, to indulge in delusions of grandeur and nostalgia, just as current Britain does by hanging to the coattails of America. The morally justifiable but belated and ineffective for its stated purpose, American bombardment of Serbia was a further spur to develop nuclear weapons for all states that did not wish to brook American meddling in their domestic policies, however wrong, unjust, immoral or destructive they are. The invasion of Iraq, in full violation of the UN charter, was the handwriting on the wall for any state that was a mid-sized power and had strained relations with America.
Iran had its domestic legitimate government overthrown first in the early 1900s, then a CIA instituted coup against Mossadeq, and finally an instigated and American supported war thrust upon it by arming and financing Saddam and overlooking his use of chemical weapons against his own Kurds and the Iranian army. Resolutions were passed in the US congress authorizing the de-stabilization of the Mullah government and funding was sanctioned for clandestine groups and their broadcasts. This is not to defend the stifling, autocratic and corrupt clerical regime of Buniyads and the Council of Guardians. Thus the smart Mullahs chose to work within the framework of the NPT for a backdoor entry into the nuclear club. There is a certain illegitimacy in restricting nuclear weapons only to privileged states that have consistently failed to keep their promise to dis-arm. India rightly refused to be a party to such hypocrisy and Pakistan naturally and reflexly had to do the same. Israel used the same argument and its violations were of course ignored, as it was the American Viceroy of the Middle East, being the bad cop to safeguard the energy reserves.
The real worry of America is that a nuclear Iran would be less susceptible to bullying and would upset the control of Gulf and Central Asian energy reserves, that is essential to keep chafing at the bit Europe and Japan in control, now that the fear of Russia and the need for the American nuclear umbrella and military protection has vanished. In fact, Russia could be the alternate source of oil and gas for Europe and Japan, and that is why it has to be defanged by weaning Ukraine, Georgia, Poland and Hungary away from it. The problem is that the EU3 (Britain, France and Germany) do not wish to use the military option and America has its hands full in Iraq and Afghanistan because its klutz juggler has too many balls in the air. Israeli Golem could be let loosed, but that would inflame the Arab countries even more and convince them that America is on a New Crusade. Thus Iran will eventually go nuclear despite its coy denials. It is the foolishness of American policies that have reached their acme under the current "Proconsul", characterized by refusal for direct negotiations to bury the hatchet and an even more foolish hope that the current Iranian regime will collapse and the new regime will reject the nuclear option, needed to counter the thumping of the chest and screaming to the world about the pre-emptive doctrine and the Project for the New American Century. These delusions are in the same class as the earlier statements by the resident puppeteer, that the Iraqis will greet the American soldiers with garlands, as liberators.
It is the loss of the energy stranglehold due to Iran's coming nuclear status, that causes seismic worries in the American administration and even more so as there is no effective viable response. Iran has signed Mega-deals with China and India. There is an even greater problem with North Korea that arises from lack of direct talks. Once again the regime is terrible and Stalinist and has no redeeming virtues, but it has a huge and well-equipped military with enough howitzers within destroying range of Seoul, the South Korean capital. This is why the American forces are being moved out of range and to add fuel to the fire, there is now a pervasive feeling in younger South Koreans that America is the problem and not the solution. Thus once again the military option is ruled out and obstinate self-importance has precluded direct negotiations bringing things to an impasse. The stakes here are equally great. A belligerent nuclear North Korea is likely to raise doubts in Japan about the reliability of the protection of an American nuclear umbrella. A nuclear and antagonistic China has already fanned the flames of independent military and nuclear deterrence in the growing militant Japanese factions, tired of Japan's subservient status with respect to America. If Japan goes nuclear, it would be less compelled to finance America's current account deficit. It owns a trillion dollars, just like China, Hong Kong and Taiwan combined do.
The Arab governments are disunited, corrupt and undemocratic. They could easily absorb the Palestinian refugees in their midst and improve their talent and economy by doing so. The initial aggression by Palestinians in 1948 was foolhardy and futile. Nevertheless, it is not an unnatural one, when some great powers impose an alien population on the natives. It is ridiculous to say that the area was a Jewish homeland 3000 years ago. If that argument is valid why don't we vacate America, Canada, entire Central and South America, Australia and New Zealand and hand them over to their natives. The blind support of Israel's policies some of which are atrocious (like differential land and water use), has led to the Palestinian insurgency and Arab alienation. Even the Europeans see American folly, partly to keep the peace in their burgeoning Muslim minorities. American politicians with their corrupt campaign financing system, see no choice but to support their Jewish lobbies, who to assuage their guilt, out-Israel the Sabras. The politicians also know that there is no career harm in ignoring the Arabs, as they are not a powerful domestic block and their rulers in their own countries are illegitimate and beholden to America for protecting their status. The newest American peace initiative is a desperate act to seek a face saving exit from Iraq, just like Nixon's trip to China was for Vietnam. It is a good thing still, despite the less than altruistic or moral motives, because it is good for America's future and economy. Who cares about the color of the cat, as long as it kills mice is what the brilliant architect of China's current rapid progress said so truly.
That brings me to the ongoing insurgency in Iraq. While it is true that the insurgents are a combination of dis-empowered Baathists, disaffected Sunnis, nationalists resisting occupation and Bin Laden jihadists, it should be obvious to the unseeing American intelligence community that the tactics of beheading, killing security forces whom they believe to be collaborators and the violent anarchist tactics of suicide-bombing Shiite civilians, point to fanatic Bin Ladenists, as the prime movers. These attempted disruptions are best neutralized by creating independent and autonomous Kurdish and Shiite enclaves and withdrawing. This would secure the oil-rich regions and leave them to deal with the boiling Sunni enclave, which has no economic potential to engage American interest. This will need an accommodation with Iran, whose Mullahs will self-destruct in a generation. A peaceful and just resolution of the Palestinian crisis will require curbing Israel and strong-arming it to the altar with some goodies and reassurances. That will do much to appease the other Sunnis. Finally, North Korea must be bought off with a stipulation of uniting the Koreas in 50 years like the Hong Kong agreement. This will prevent the alienation of Japan, one of America's bankers and creditors. India should also develop strong ties with Shiite Iran and Iraq to ensure energy supplies and marginalize future Sunni militancy from Pakistan. Improved relations with the Muslim nations of Malaysia and Indonesia should help both America and India to appear not anti-Muslim and weaken the spread of the Jihadists.
More by : Gaurang Bhatt, MD