Calhoun's Cannons for June 16, 2014
We warned long ago that the adventurism the Americans and the British started there would not end well."
Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov
Would somebody please send Senator John MaCain to Iraq so he can bomb something -- anything. Right now, his war-lust, like all the old men who send other people's children to war, is running amok. And who invited all those zombies back on TV? Kristol, Wolfowitz, Bremer, the Bush-era Unrepentant Undead are flooding the airwaves once again to peer out from the TV screen to proffer more wrong "advice," singing the old PNAC song. They were wrong then and wrong now. Dear God, please make them go away.
Well, it's not like anybody knows what to do, except "something." But what? Even McCain's longed-for desire to bomb somebody, anybody, would likely end up with a supreme irony: American forces fighting on the same side of Iran, an official terrorist state. That's how cork-screwed the Middle East has become, thanks to our "help."
Watching the predictable news out of Iraq, I can only ask, "Is America finally ready to get schooled in the terrible price we always pay for our willful ignorance, our deliberate know-nothingness, both of which fuel our pathological willingness to fall for the Big Con?"
The Neo-Con Philosopher Kings, their media pundits and their chosen President deluded themselves into thinking that folks living in the oil-rich middle east under those funny clothes, were, at heart, conservative-minded Rotarians from small-town Iowa who were just waiting for someone to bring them "freedom" so they could open up a Levis store, make lots of money and send their daughters to study Am. Lit. at a nice liberal arts college, then marry a stock broker.
And what better excuse to launch this PNAC plan than after 9/11, when America had blood in her eye, no world history in her head, and didn't know a Sunni from a Shi'a, and Iraq from Yemen? If you "looked muslim," that was good enough. You were a terrorist and a threat to "our way of life" and if we shocked and awed the wrong country in our pursuit of al Quaeda, who cared? We'd be greeted as liberators and the oil money would pay for this grand jingo jaunt, and we'd have a fine time kicking some Muslim ass.
Only it didn't turn out that way, as old Sergey knew, Russia having had it's own "Iraqi" moment in Afghanistan. As Colin Powell knew with his "you break it you own it" rhetoric. As history itself would/should have told us, had we bothered to read or even talk to some old coot in British Intelligence, one of the old guys who arbitrarily divided up these countries after WWI, a fateful division of spoils with built-in poison pills that are finally coming due.
And poor Iraq may also be ready to be schooled in the terrible price to be paid when sectarian ideology trumps practical reality. When dogs fight over a bone, it is the wolf who will settle the hash. And in this case, ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, appears ready to collect a good deal of the bones. Yet another lost lesson: Beware the religious or political fanatic whose "purity" (and weaponry and tactical smarts) is greater than your own. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dreams of a neo-Caliphate and that dream may prove to be more costly than anyone can imagine.
No, Sergey, this adventure did not turn out well. It's possible that the Middle East simply isn't ready for any good solutions, except for their own hideous version of The Thirty Years War. As long as fundamentalism appears to be an attractive bulwark against modernism and western imperial designs, too many Islamic countries will remain locked in the 16th century. Democracy and modernity cannot thrive with a fundamentalist boot on the neck of the body politic.
Or it's possible that tribal societies simply can't operate as large modern nation-states. That Iraq, hastily cobbled together by the British and French at the end of World War I, was never sustainable. Right now, ISIS is re-drawing the map, forcefully, murderously creating something of a fait accompli dual state -- Sunni to the north, Shi'a to the south.
If that division holds, the next lesson the people of the middle east will have to learn is an old one: Be careful what you wish for, you might get it. And if Mr. Baghdadi turns out to be the Devil who will deliver the deal, it will not turn out well.