Sep 23, 2023
Sep 23, 2023
The imperial hubris of the neo-cons that predicted the welcome as liberators by the Iraqis and firm control of its energy wealth is shattered beyond hope. The lie of WMDs is not accepted anymore by even partisan Republicans and the propagation of democracy gets laughter from allies. The last resort of the good of removing the despicable Saddam has lost validity as even the tyrannized and oppressed Iraqis long with nostalgia the security, potable water, electricity and food subsidies that the dictator provided. The Shia and the Kurds are the only ones to have benefited somewhat, but at the cost of strengthening America's arch-enemy Iran, and weakening and irritating its ally Turkey.
Iran is smirking that American blood and treasure has consolidated its hold in the oil rich Southern Iraq. The administration's follies have put a tax of a trillion dollars on the world economies due to the increase in oil prices over the two and a half years. A fair amount of this windfall has helped to enrich the radical Islamic states, consolidate their absolute power and possibly found its way to the coffers of Al Qaeda. It has also allowed the Iranian theocracy to consolidate its stronghold on power in its parliament and presidency and garner the support of its poor masses by continuing subsidies. It has emboldened Iran to pursue its nuclear ambitions while appealing to moderates and nationalists in opposition, by condemning western interference as nuclear apartheid. The high price of oil allows Iran to threaten cutbacks and retaliation, pacify the Shia population by a call to martyrdom and hold over the heads of the West the specter of economic collapse to due to shortages and rising price of oil. Finally, Iran will make the American position in Iraq and Afghanistan even more unstable and dangerous.
The waters are made murkier by the decision of Austria and possibly France and Germany to deny full membership to Turkey and offer instead a second class special partnership status. Some of these fears maybe justified on the basis of being swamped by Turkish Muslim immigration and influx of cheap labor in the post 9-11 era of militant Islamic terrorism and further aggravation of already high unemployment by the neo-liberal globalization economic policies. The Turkish social and political pendulum is swinging towards Islam from the post WW2 secular Ataturk extreme. The military has been weakened by trying to meet the EU agenda. The corruption and incompetence of other political parties has brought the Islamic (Justice) party back to power in its second incarnation and there is a broad and deep support for it in the general population. This week's emergency EU summit may once and for all extinguish Turkey's hopes and turn the jilted country firmly in the direction of its Islamic neighbors and to a more accommodating stance to its giant Russian neighbor. Its relations with Israel have deteriorated due to the latter's alleged meddling in the Kurdish regions and the festering sore of the Palestinian Intifada.
The attempts to intimidate Syria has encouraged it to turn a blind eye to infiltration by terrorists across the Iraqi border and make life and goals of American troops more difficult and dangerous. The tacit support of drug dealers and warlords in Afghanistan with indiscriminate aerial bombing of the civilian population at the behest of corrupt warlords who use American military might to settle personal scores and vendettas, has kept the Taliban insurgency embers burning. The Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo inmate abuse has helped the recruitment and fund raising efforts of Al Qaeda, while hampering American armed forces own recruitment. The well orchestrated Cindy Sheehan campaign, the Downing Street memos and the incompetence and unconcern in the federal responses to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, with the looming scandals over outing of a CIA agent and inquiry and indictment of the Senate and House majority leaders have resulted in the sinking polls of the president and his policies. The burgeoning deficit spending and rewarding of supporters by lucrative non-competitive contracts will make additional moral and material funding of the bottomless sinkhole of Iraq difficult to sustain, in view of the coming mid-term Congressional elections.
The October 15 referendum on Iraqi Constitution will be the last straw and plunge Iraq into a full scale civil war if the three Sunni districts fail to reject it. If they succeed in rejecting it, the American quagmire will be further prolonged without an end in sight. New elections will have to be held in December 2005 and a second attempt at formulating a constitution will be required. There is only one trained Iraqi battalion after nearly three years. The Shia and Kurdish Iraqis join the armed forces to obtain money to live. They have no commitment to the government and will not be able to stand up to the fanatic suicidal insurgents. Thus the American troop presence will be indefinitely prolonged with unnecessary expenditures and casualties.
If the constitution is rejected and the civil war worsens, neighboring countries will take sides and be destabilized, causing worse shortages and higher prices of oil. The altruistic proclamations of destroying WMDs and liberating Iraqis from the tyranny of Saddam are believed by no one. The unstated objectives of the illegal invasion were ensuring a reliable supply of cheap oil and having a huge military base in the center of the oil patch through the blessings of a friendly and obedient puppet government. These naive expectations of a foolish administration are unfulfilled and the pundit predicted reverse has occurred.
Thus the persistence of the occupation is a fruitless endeavor costing blood treasure and world respect mainly to save face, a perennial fault attributed to inscrutable Orientals. The other reasons that withdrawal will create a sanctuary for terrorists and lead to the carnage of civil war are true but not critical. There are already sanctuaries for fanatic Islamic terrorists in Somalia, Eritrea, Yemen, Pakistan, Bangladesh and budding ones in Indonesia, Southern Philippines and Thailand. One more will hardly make a difference and America can counter it with saturation aerial bombing, the one art of war that we are good at. From the American point of view, a prolonged war between Shias and Sunnis is a replay of the Iraq Iran war that we instigated, supported and reveled in. As before neighboring countries will take sides and our enemies will fight to weaken if not destroy each other. It is true that oil shortage and price rises may wreck the world economy, but America is less dependent on oil than the EU, Japan or China. As the neo-cons would say, that is mere collateral damage. In view of our political inability to sustain casualties, the poor state of our finances to indulge in costly foreign wars, our inability to sustain or increase military recruitment and the logistical and language difficulty of a protracted war in the Middle East, the best alternative is for the Shias and Sunnis to duke it out and solve our problems. As an added measure we could set up a situation where the Kurds would fight the Turks and the Azeris fight the Armenians and the Persians, to create one holy mess. Thus the Islamist wildfires will cover everything from Kashmir to Chechnya-Dagestan.
More by : Gaurang Bhatt, MD