Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Remaking the Middle East, "Do Something!"

Iraq is in flames. Not just terrorism, but conventional battles are taking place. ISIS is on a rampage. Their haul is amazing, their flamboyant taunting of the US is Bond villainesque, they are declaring a caliphate, and they are incredibly well funded. Who could have seen this coming? Allow me to pose and gloat over this, as I considered it a possibility last summer. I even nailed the group, including Kurd movements to take spots and consolidate their hold possibly leading to independence. End of gloating. This will push oil and gas prices right in the middle of summer driving season, and possibly boost oil prices for years. What to do, what to do? The War Party (stop using neocons as it is bipartisan) want to do something.

In reality, the US should do nothing. Even better, listen to Netanyahu and move to weaken both sides. Who legitimately knows what is going on with the policy makers in the USG leviathan. If it truly is to remake the Middle East, and we are well on our way to tearing up Sykes-Picot, let the two sides duke it out for as long as possible without our direct involvement. If the goal is to reach out to Iran (weird how those nuke talks go nowhere), then shouldn't delivering the F-16s the Iraqis ordered be rushed? Wait, they bought some combat support jets from the Russians. If the goal is to help our Saudi, Jordanian and Israeli allies by keeping a peaceful Middle East, then shouldn't a few bombing runs be enough to wipe out the 1000 troops ISIS has? It should. It's open air desert, and they are riding vehicles we left behind that should be easy to spot.

This is the problem though, because the US spent money and sent arms to arm Syrian jihadis. The USG could not come through with air support and cruise missiles to knock out Assad's advantage, and jihadis had nowhere to go but back to normal tribal areas since borders were drawn by long dead European diplomats. Whether direct or indirect help, ISIS is a problem of the USG's creation. Red Empire or Blue Empire because it does matter? Red aligned Israel/KSA do not mind a rampaging force pinning down and killing Iranian forces and draining Iranian oil revenues. How much does the US want to put its relationship with the Qataris and Saudis at risk? As far as USG foreign policy, Israel and the KSA seem to be taking the role of two in the hand while Iran is the one in the bush. Even the Blue Empire needs those petrodollars to placate domestic constituencies. This is the problem with slicing sovereignty down to millionth parts. Seriously, American foreign policy is a nonsensical nightmare, but back to ISIS.

ISIS occupies a securely Sunni area of the Middle East. It is even more securely Sunni after the mid-'00s ethnic cleansing that went on in formerly heterogeneous regions. They seem dead set on staking out a zone, and they also have a pitch appealing to the Sunnis frozen out of Maliki's government that, ahem, flexed its muscle for his tribe. They have a little bit of help from the remnants of the old Saddam regime. ISIS does not need to take anymore territory. They just need to inflict wounds on the regime, and play for time so "peace" can be brokered. Carving up Iraq into zones has long been an idea (even our Vice President suggested it), and ISIS, or an ISIS puppet, can have the dominant part in a Sunni zone, moderating to become statesmen recognized by Harvard. Harvard's been friends with worse.

The USG should do nothing. Let them fight for years. If some younger politician wanted to be contrarian, they could think longer term, look at the situation and keep this quote in mind from Jim Rickards earlier in June.
Bankers’ parasitic behavior, the result of a cultural phase transition, is entirely characteristic of a society nearing collapse. Wealth is no longer created; it is taken from others. Parasitic behavior is not confined to bankers; it also infects high government officials, corporate executives and the elite societal stratum.
ISIS is a murderous group of terrorists that use power point. They are also setting up a potential redrawing of the Middle East map by force of will. There is an easy way to position this as an absolute failure by your political opponent in name (President Obama) and of the American foreign policy infrastructure. It can be framed as a slap in the face to US veterans (wave small flag while saying this). It can also be the start of restructuring and dismantling of nation states. Maybe good fences make good neighbors. Maybe forced multiculturalism is not always the answer. Maybe political arrangements for peaceful separation are the best alternative to armed conflict when a polarized population can no longer hear each other. Let us support a peaceful, negotiated partition of these mixed groups to spare any further bloodshed. If you have to do something, do that.

2 comments:

Big Bill said...

"Maybe good fences make good neighbors. Maybe forced multiculturalism is not always the answer. Maybe political arrangements for peaceful separation are the best alternative to armed conflict when a polarized population can no longer hear each other. Let us support a peaceful, negotiated partition of these mixed groups to spare any further bloodshed. If you have to do something, do that."

I am puzzled. For years lefties have told us that Iraq is a disaster because of imperialism: Churchill, Sykes, Picot, etc. forced three different peoples to live together under one roof in Iraq (aka "Mesopotamia").

Why are they not shouting your solution from the rooftops? Why are they not demanding independence for each group thereby correcting this now 100-year-old mistake?

Anonymous said...

We need a montage and a hashtag campaign to save Iraq.
Have they tried midnight basketball there?