General Eclectic

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Underside of Our Iraq Venture

The long and short of it was we went into Iraq, cassocks flying on some sort of a missionary trip (at least for American consumption), without a clear understanding (American History 101) of the necessary and sufficient conditions for the establishment of a democratic republic.

We also handicapped ourselves badly through the misguided strategic objective of keeping Iraq a single country with borders established by post WW I colonial powers to ensure its subservience to the needs of British commerce. We failed to act as the unipolar power and divide the territory into units which best served our needs.

In this misbegotten effort we were burdened by our ignorance of the several ethnic groups making up the corpus of the population. In particular, we paid no attention to Sunni fundamentalism and their alleged fears of domination by the Shi'ite majority. Worse, we kept the Iranian monkey on our backs, not realizing the serious differences between the Persian mullahs and the al Sistani Arab clerics.

In Washington D.C. the DOD and their ISP corrupted the intelligence process, over riding the timid leadership and thin expertise in DIA, as Chalabi provided visions of sugarplums (WMD, people ready to receive us with garlands of flowers, etc.) War planning itself appeared to have made no consideration of the likelihood of out of country fundamentalists streaming to make war on US occupiers.

Let's recognize that there is no Iraq -- a nation held together by common political, economic and security objectives. At best, there might be three federated states and a capital city. Just like the United States immediately after the Revolutionary War, operating under Articles of Confederation and only later adopting in the mutual interest a Constitution.

In point of fact there are economic resources in each of the 'states' to support a viable government. If it was good enough for us, it should be good enough for them.

But also place no objection should the Sunni state be courted by Jordan, which dearly needs its resources.

Eventually, when Iran has morphed into an Islamic republic dominated by secular interests (the Mullahs back in the mosques), there may be a rapproachment between Arab and Persian Shia, but not for a long time.

As for the north, the Kurd genie is out of the bottle. Given the interests in Turkey and Iran, we ought to point the Kurds towards an Iraqi Federation, probably as a semi-autonomous state.

It is going to take a long time to solve this mess. The three state concept offers the best opportunity for self help on the part of the people there -- and the shortest term for our troops to be present.

Similarly, we have never understood Afghanistan. Thank God we had indigenous tribal leaders fighting the war -- not for democratic reasons but in their own self interest. Let's get the women out of their burkahs and into the schools and call it a day, nation building wise.

The key to al-Qaeda lies as it always has done not in the leadership but in the horizontal nature of its organization, like some aberrant lymph system in the body of the Moslem religion, coexisting with the blood and muscle and bone, infecting from time to time and in several places.

I have separately described what I believe to be the strategic objectives of its leadership. The United States is a and will remain the target of opportunity for al-Qaeda, not for strategic reasons but to demonstrate to all the impressionable poor young Muslims in Africa and Asia the power of al-Qaeda and the invincibility of the movement.

It matters not whether we capture Osama or not -- and it is highly possible that he is dead -- it is the ideas that counts. Once the minarets of Mecca are controlled, the call to action will spread across northern Africa and along its Atlantic coast, and in Asia where Pakistan, Indonesia and perhaps the Philippines are ripe. The large Muslim minority in France will paralyze action there. Iraq has demonstrated that many nations can be blackmailed. Can we?

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