Monday, June 16, 2014

Iraq runs its own Pottery Barn

Not much reason for the US to jump in - we may have screwed up in the past, but as for what's going now, the Iraqis need to work it out.

The tricky issue is when "working it out" means massive slaughter of one sect by another, intentionally triggering the wanted counter-slaughter. It no longer looks like the Shiite-dominated government will fall, but if it did seem under threat, I could theoretically imagine airstrikes on troop movements that only keep ISIL out of Shiite cities (if airstrikes would work, which is doubtful). Some real changes in the government's behavior could be reason to support it, but otherwise we should stay out.

ISIL seems momentarily popular in their part of Iraq. Fine, let's see how long that lasts. I doubt they'll have ability or energy to attack foreign countries given what the civil war they're dealing with now.

While consistency might not be the most important thing in the world, I think I'm taking a consistent position on this as with saying the West shouldn't conduct airstrikes in parts of Libya that supported Gaddhafi and that we shouldn't have a troop surge in Afghanistan in the parts that rejected Karzai.

Finally, I don't think this will be seen as a political problem for Obama - the Republicans who claim otherwise will be asked if they learned anything at all from the Iraq War.


Fernando Leanme said...

The word "West' seems to be used a lot by Americans when discussing their shambolic foreign policy. As time has gone by and US foreign policy has decayed, the word became really popular. Bush's neocons sure used it a lot.

But most people who have observed USA venality and stupidity over the last 20 plus years don't really want to be dragged into us military adventures.

Its nice to see even the Fox neocons oppose a return of USA troops to Iraq. But the USA will never be a normal nation nor behave as a rational well managed empire as long as it remains fixated on defending Israel's policies even though they run contrary to US interests.

This means there's no way the USA can do much to fix the mess in Iraq. Iraq, Syria, Israel, Lebanon and Palestine are a foreign relations puzzle, and a nightmare, for USA foreign policy wonks because these countries were intentionally created that way by the Brits and the French. So now the USA gas to deal with the ethnic and religious mess those two left behind. Or does it? The USA has spent over a trillion USD, lost thousands of soldiers, and it's back at square one. Think about it.

cRR Kampen said...

Future would be Iraq split up in a part for Kurdistan, the sunni part combined with over a third of Syria in the ISIL caliphate, and sji'ite part which may itself fall partially into Iran though I expect Bagdad to become capital of a small separate shi'ite state.
Resistance to this partition will determine the fatalaties and refugees numbers and how Khmer Rouge-like ISIL might become. Khmer Rouge. One more sectarian product of US bombing.

Anonymous said...

Some might say that a "broken" Iraq was actually the plan all along. (Which is more of a threat to the US? A united Iraq under Saddam? or a fragmented Iraq with infighting between sects?)

The POTUS Barn Principle: "We break it. You buy it."

PS For any who actually believe the goal of folks like Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle was "Democracy" for Iraq, I have some prime real estate on Jupiter's moon Io.

Fernando Leanme said...

I believe the free Kurdistan idea would lead to a Turkish invasion. They may not stop until they take over Kirkuk. While they are at it they may also take over a portion of Syria including Aleppo. It would be a partial return to the pre World War I status.

You can slice Iraq into several independent states. But that sets up the game board for additional wars.

Anonymous said...

Error to get in.
Error to get out.
I'm pretty sure whatever we do or don't do next will also be an error, because that's the trend.

Steve Bloom said...

Obama can and should be blamed for going along with Cheney plan rather than intelligently reassessing and instead facilitating a division of Iraq into its three natural components. Yes, the Cheney plan was the path of least political resistance, as was leaving the warlords in charge in Afghanistan, but sometimes the path of least resistance leads over a cliff.

Steve Bloom said...

"I believe the free Kurdistan idea would lead to a Turkish invasion."

Across a border guaranteed by the U.S.? Are you an idiot about absolutely everything, Fernando?

Note that given the oil in Kurdistan, a guarantee of that border (which has already happened informally) isn't exactly a selfless act. Look for the U.S. to quietly support the southwestward expansion of the Kurdistan border as far as the Peshmurga can manage.

Let me know when Turkey departs NATO and I'll start worrying about something else happening.

cRR Kampen said...

Kurdistan effectively already exists, including flag, government and parliament.
Of course Turkey will not invade, Turkey might actually be happy with the state if it means the Kurds living in Turkey-proper would move to it.
Meantime the Peshmerga is militarily quite capable of keeping the Kurdic area intact and free of e.g. ISIL. The latter have proposed a truce to the Kurds in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

"consistency might not be the most important thing in the world,"

Consistently wrong is all-important.

Carry on.

cRR Kampen said...

Interesting. They took the pictures of the shootings in the ditches away, but who actually did?

Aaron said...

Every complex problem has an easy answer -- that is wrong.

The easy answer is drought. Both Afghanistan and Syria had mild over population issues by the 1980s, which were addressed by importing food subsidized by cheap oil.

As population exceeded the carrying capacity of the lands, social problems increase.

My moral is that it takes more than imported food to keep a population stable.

It does not matter if fanatics go into the desert, or if the desert turns people into fanatics. Deserts end up being places of wickedness. Look at what happened to T. E. Lawrence. It is a well known problem and the solution has also been known for a long time -- rain for 40 days and 40 nights. And, that is just wrong!

Anonymous said...

What have you been smoking, Aaron?

What you were rolling in your picture?


Behold, Crusader Bunny :
Republican Rabetts to the rescue !

Brian said...

In 2003-2004 a partition following a referendum supporting partition may have worked and may have been a better outcome (or not), but January 2009 was way too late for Obama to impose a referendum. It's their country, not ours.

Steve Bloom said...

Sure Brian, that was the political course of least resistance for Obama. The only problem with it was a bunch of dead Iraqis. But that's their deaths, not ours.

dhogaza said...

"Sure Brian, that was the political course of least resistance for Obama. The only problem with it was a bunch of dead Iraqis. But that's their deaths, not ours."

It's not like they *have* to kill each other, you know. And it's not like they weren't killing each other while we were there. And it's not like our being there would solve anything.

Partition sounds simple, but then again many other things regarding Iraq have sounded simple over the years.

Aaron said...

What have I been smoking? I see a surge in population in both Afghanistan and Syria, but no influx of capital investment. They were/are both agrarian societies. Both are subject to desertification. (One as a result of over population, on as a result of drought. What are the young men going to do? There are only two things to do in the desert, meditate and fight. Young men are going to fight. To justify the fighting, they are going to become fanatical, then their fight is blessed. T. E. Lawrence went into the desert to meditate, and ended up fighting Turks. In the end, his drive to Damascus was just as brutal as the tactics used by both sides in the current Syrian conflict or the war in Afganistan.

Such brutal tactics are wickedness. Wickedness invokes the Story of Noah. Only now, with global warming we can get 40 days of rain in a couple of days, as in the Pakistan Floods of 2010. Thus, with AGW we can invoke both the wickedness (e.g., by desertification of the environment) and the punishment (floods.)

The last 50 years has seen a number of herding societies disrupted by desertification. I am not sure we can distinguish between desertification driven by AGW and desertification driven by overpopulation in that time frame. Does it matter if the desertification of additional countries over the next 50 years is driven by local over population or by AGW generated by Europe, China, and the US? In either case, young men are going to fight, either locally, or to join organizations to fight elsewhere. What smokes me is; “What can we learn from this as the American Southwest under goes desertification as a result of drought driven by AGW?”

Is it your very carefully considered opinion that the US has enough water and capital to keep our young men too busy to fight? If that is true, why is the murder rate in Oakland, Ca so high? Are we certain that gangs in Oakland are so different from groups like Al Qaeda and ISIL?

(In the picture, I am knitting.)

Anonymous said...

This feller seems to have a clue.

Anonymous said...

Not much reason for the US to jump in "

and plenty of reasons not to.

Like the US Constitution and war Powers Resolution, for example

“Just as with threats to attack Syria last year, an attack on Iraq would violate the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. As with any president, he [President Obama] commits an impeachable offense if he does not follow the Constitution.” -- Paul Findley, key author of the War Powers Resolution

But hey, what's the law got to do with any of this stuff?

One would expect Brian (a lawyer) to at least mention the legal issues involved in airstrikes on Iraq at this point in time.

I see no such discussion by Brian at all.

It's as if the issue does not even exist.

Brian said...

Last Anon, not my legal field but I think the Authorization to Use Military Force Act would still apply, and more clearly in Iraq than anywhere else. Still a bad idea, though.

Anonymous said...

"Not my field"

Well, that certainly never prevented you from speculating before, on Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, legal matters or even science, for that matter.

In fact, "Not my field, but" would seem to be your signature lead-in.

"Not my legal field... but" I certainly know more than Findley, author of the War Powers Resolution.

Thanks for that!

Jebediah Hypotenuse said...

Finally, I don't think this will be seen as a political problem for Obama - the Republicans who claim otherwise will be asked if they learned anything at all from the Iraq War.

"The" Iraq war?

Which one?

Would this be a good time to point out that the August 1990 to February 1991 invasion didn't seem to make operatives in D.C. any smarter?

On the other hand, I think the Kurds have learned a few things.