Friday, January 05, 2007
Pelosi and Krauthammer Agreeing on Iraq?
From the Democratic leadership's letter to the president:
Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror. A renewed diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond, is also required to help the Iraqis agree to a sustainable political settlement. In short, it is time to begin to move our forces out of Iraq and make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our commitment is not open ended, that we cannot resolve their sectarian problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq.
From Charles Krauthammer's column in today's Washington Post:
We should not be surging American troops in defense of such a government. This governing coalition -- Maliki's Dawa, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and Sadr's Mahdi Army -- seems intent on crushing the Sunnis at all costs. Maliki should be made to know that if he insists on having this sectarian war, he can well have it without us.
What is left unsaid, of course, is whether or not we should be prepared for failure--that Iraqis won't end their sectarian conflict.
a) what becomes of the overall American position in the Near East, if the USA adopts (to quote Churchill) a policy of 'scuttle'?
It is all well and good to argue (correctly) as both Krauthammer and Pelosi posit that the current government in Iraq is a travesty, and, ideally should be replaced. The sad fact of the matter is though, that the Maliki government is probably the most (yes I repeat most) representative government in Iraq's history, id est, since 1919. That does not make its sectarian nature any easier to contemplate, but, it is a verifiable fact. The current government represents about 75%-80% of the population. Unfortunately, the current government besides being 'sectarian' is also: corrupt, inefficient and inept. Hence, the current imbroglio for US policy.
b)If the USA withdraws from Iraq, say into Kurdistan and the far reaches of the southwest near Kuwait and the Saudi border, can we calmly look on, from a strategic perspective, if Persia becomes de facto the dominant power and influence in Baghdad? How and in what way can the USA react to this particular end result of a policy of 'scuttle'.
Can the USA, organize a cordon sanitaire of the Sunni states vis-`a-vis Persia, Syria and its other allies (which at that point will include Iraq as well)? How will the Sunni states in the region react to what will seem worldwide to be an overt American defeat?
Unfortunately, I do not see, Madam
Pelosi or Mr. Krauthammer asking these types of questions. My own opinion for what it is worth is, that the USA can recover from a defeat in Iraq. However that would require a revision of current American policies in the region, especially towards Syria, Israel, the Palestinians, et cetera. Something which, I do not see the current crew in Washington, either Republican or Democratic doing anytime soon. Nota Bene: on the subject of Israel, the Congressional Democrats are just as beholden to Tel Aviv as is the Bush administration. Id est, Congressman Tom Lantos, has publicly rejected the ISG's emphasis on engaging with Damascus and the Palestinians in order to stablize the region. If pressed Pelosi (who would prefer to say nothing of course...) would no doubt mouth the same platitudes.
The grim reality is that America can never claim anything like victory in Iraq, political or military, because the entire fetid ghoulish costly bloody horrorshow is a CRIME.
Purported experts loose all credibility when the pretend or resort to superhuman feats of mental gymnastics to justify or conjure, or imagine some kind of victory in the unseen unknown, unknown future. None of these partisan myths and fictions are even remotely possible.
Briefly allow me to present alternatives to your (a) (b) "grossmachtpolitik perspective"
An alternative answer to (a) is: The factbasedreality is that "overall American position in the Near East" is already permanently tarnished by the actions and policies of the fascist warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government. That said, once we restore the rule of law, some semblance of reason and wiser more appropriate strategic initiatives, (as opposed to the criminal designs and wanton profiteering of the fascists in the Bush government) American can begin in earnest the difficult work of restoriing some credibility and legitimacy in or foreign relations including the near east and working through various means (sans the bloody, costly, noendinsight imperialist, wars, occupations, colonizations and religious reformations)benefiting and profiting select cabal klans and cronies in or beholden to the Bush government.
(b) Iran is already the defacto power in the ME, and wise and intelligent leadership, (as opposed the narcissitic incompentent fascist warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government) must work will our allies old and new, and our enemies, old and new to best manage this growing problem. The military options are off the table unless we entertain nukes, bugs, or chem attacks, - and there are many viable diplomatic, political, and economic options available to thwart the threat that Iran may someday pose, and there is absolutely no sound reason to rush into any military engagement before exhausting all those other available options.
You imagine, (and I cannot imagine how it is possible for any intelligent human being to hold this position) that the Bush government has America's best interests at heart, or that they are working to secure America, or bring liberty to oppressed peoples, or that the Bush government deserves one nanoparticle of trust, good will, or good faith. From my perspective, and I have mountains of evidence to support this position, - the fascist warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government are pathological liars, tyrants, and criminals whose only interests, and singular focus is engorging the off sheet accounts of cabals, klans, cronies and oligarchs in or beholden to the fascist warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government.
(That said, once we restore the rule of law, some semblance of reason and wiser more appropriate strategic initiatives, (as opposed to the criminal designs and wanton profiteering of the fascists in the Bush government) American can begin in earnest the difficult work of restoriing some credibility and legitimacy in our foreign relations including the near east and working through various means (sans the bloody, costly, noendinsight imperialist, wars, occupations, colonizations and religious reformations benefiting and profiting select cabal klans and cronies in or beholden to the Bush government) to remedy the terrible wrongs of the fascist warmonger and profiteers in the Bush government.)
For me the test is how the "mavericks" are treated--from Kucinich to Webb. If they are given a voice, that's great. If attempts are made to silence them or rein them in, that is a bad sign.
Russia is the only country that can destroy US. Thus, US-Russian relationship should be of foremost importance to US policy makers.
Next comes EU , Japan & China - qualitatively equally as important.
Brazil & India are on the third level of importance.
So, I just do not see the importance of other regions of the world to US. Let us assume that Bin Ladininsm is victorious on the Arabian Peninsula. What of it? They still have to sell their oil and they cannot realistically (hyeteria asie) threaten US. In fact, such a development would threaten Iran and the Shia/Kurdish Iraq much more than US.
I just do not see any reason for strategic engagement in that part of the world. Am I missing something?
The democrats are far more sensitive to their constituents in the middle and lower classes than fascists in the republican reich and the GOP, who again will happily pervert, subvert, and redefine our own laws and core principles to blindly follow in lockstep unison the fascist and criminal policies of a leadership who supposedly speaks to god. Remove god from the policies and the partisan hagiography spewed out of the GOP, and fanaticus truebelievers, and the fascist warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government have absolutely NOTHING to stand on.
No doubt certain creeps in the democratic party will be seduced by the fascist cabals, (that apostate Lieberman most notably), but I assure you the democratic party as a block, and the key leadership will not, - because democrats and liberal from the street will not allow it.
We demand accountability from our leadership left and right, and this just and necessary demand will not be denied.
I think the distinction between capabilities and intentions is relevant here. Russia has the capability to destroy the United States but it does not have any stated intention to do so. Those who have claimed to speak for radical Islam do not have the capabilities to inflict massive casualties but have expressed the intention to do so if or when they acquire such capabilities. The question is whether we should take these intentions at face value.
The category "Radical Islam" does not have descriptive power - it usually means -among Anglo-Americans mostly - those religious Muslims that are either against US or US-friendly governments.
The only Radical Muslims that I know of are the post-Revolutionary Muslims of Iran. Khoemini broke with Islamic Tradition on 6 major points.
The others Muslims under that rubric seem to be assorted number of malcontents, neo-Salafi Muslims, anit-Israel Palestinains, and others such as Muslim Brotherhood or Iraqi insurgents. They are not - religiously speaking- not radical at all. They are actually quite conservative in their religious doctrines. These people are all Sunni Muslims and not all of them are sworn to attack or destroy US.
As far as I can tell, it was only OBL and his neo-Salafi acolytes (living in SA, UAE, Qatar, etc.) that are sowrn enemies of US.
And even OBL has suggested that he attacked US as an act of vengence (permitted as a right in Islamic Law) for Israeli attacks in Beirut in 1982.
I would answer to your qustion that it would make sense to take your enemies intentions as face value. But please be very very creful in identifying who your enemy is. It makes sense to distinguish among various people who are opposed to US strategies and those that are opposed to US and any one in between.
I also think it makes a lot of sense to not go and look for enemies.
“I just do not see any reason for strategic engagement in that part of the world. Am I missing something?”
No. I’d say you have a pretty good read on the situation.
I spent 5 years of my youth (1983-1988) studying that sad region and living there for 2 of those years. There was a reasonable case for engagement during the Cold War that collapsed with the Soviet Union. Even so, it was obvious to me that U.S. policy would come back to bite us eventually. You could say I was a “post-9/11 person” by 1985.
Until recently, I thought it was just the pro-Israel crowd and big oil pushing their interests, coming into conflict, and ultimately producing a mess because no other American constituency had comparable interest in the Middle East. Then I read Leon Hadar’s Quagmire. He takes what I noted into account but makes sense out of it by putting it in the context of the higher level foreign policy establishment view of U.S. – European and U.S. – Asian relations. After WWII, the overarching U.S. policy in the Middle East has been to maintain itself as a regional hegemon. Originally this was to block Soviet influence and has been maintained to exert influence over competitors in Europe and Asia by keeping a hand on their oil tap.
Hadar thinks this is a bad idea and argues this paradigm should have been dropped after the Cold War. I agree and wonder it was ever a net positive, particularly given the ways the U.S. went about it. However, whether you think it is a good idea or not, he argues that it simply won’t work and that the establishment underestimates the cost which will be/is unjustifiably expensive.
The intervention in the Middle East by an outside power quickly upsets the existing balance of power, networks of alliances, etc. Hadar uses the kaleidoscope analogy. Things shift into new configurations that are difficult to predict and the power is sucked into local disputes in which it has little or no real interest. This is bad for the power for obvious reasons plus it can create new enemies. It’s a mixed bag for those local and regional parties newly arrayed against it to the extent the power’s opposition hampers or furthers their interests. Short term, it’s good for the power’s local and regional allies for obvious reasons but long term it’s bad because the outside power’s lack of interests or conflicting interests make it an unreliable ally as the stakes are raised.
Anyway, I cannot do the book justice in a blog post. I highly recommend it. It’s the most clear-headed analysis I’ve come across and incredibly prescient. Amazing to think it was written in 1991.
Thanks for your reply and the book suggestion. I started reading Hadar's columns regularly after 2002 - I was not aware of the book. I'll look into it.
I agree that radical Islam has become shorthand for too broad a collection of ideas and people. I meant primarily the Khomeinists on the Shia side and the neo-Salafists among the Sunni.
However, I would not call al-Qaida and its would-be affiliates conservative; Zarqawi employed tactics that even Zawahiri found it necessary to condemn, and the Bali, Madrid, and London bombers cannot be identified with any kind of mainstream Islam. It is true that these radicals vary in their degree of anti-Americanism but their talk about recovering al-Andalus or establishing a worldwide Caliphate raise legitimate questions about the extent of their ambitions, and Iranian denials of the Holocaust and calls to eliminate Israel raise further questions about what they in turn stand for.
What I agree we still need is to articulate an inclusive vision of the world that is consistent with our own actions and in which vigilance against those who mean us harm does not degenerate into a larger dualistic struggle between billions of people.
First, the fascist chickenhawks, imperialist corporatist, and satanic obdurate heartless brutes in the Bush, and government and every single office, agency, organization, and individual in the Bush government half a trillion dollar US defense industry and $44bn intelligence apparatus were thoroughly and soundly DEFEATED on 9/11, by 19 jihadist mass murderers (15 of Saudi's) using box cutters and our airplanes.
There is quite obviously some very scary math in these equations and calculus.
Now, don't get me started with the creepy kissing and freaky interpenetration with the Bush Crime Family Cabal's "good friends", and America's sworn enemies in SA, - but the incontrovertable FACTBASEDREALITY, - and one the disinformation warrions and sloganeers and profiteers in the Bush government, and the complicit parrots in the socalled MSM, CANNOT and will not ever legitimately excuse, ignore, deny, cloak, or fly away from - is that 9/11 happened on the Bush governments watch.
9/11 happened on the Bush government's watch, and there was plenty of national intelligence estimes, dire warnings, and Able danger reportage that the fools, or fellow conspirators in the Bush government, IGNORED, and then cravenly cloaked.
The Bush government was either complicit, (google Indira Singh, Sibel Edmonds, Ptech, and Wolfgang Bohringer, "Vigilant Gaurdian" and "Vigilant Warrior", for starters if you dare and get back to me) - or these chickenhawks and fascists were woefully, criminally incompetent.
Either way, the fictions, myths, partisan parables, fascist homilies, and PATENTLY FALSE Bush government narratives regarding 9/11 are hollow, meaningless and moot.
America has never had a real investigation into the horrors and mass murder of 9/11. The socalled 9/11 investigation is a pathetic partisn whitewash, that only holds water for fanaticus truebeliever, ignorant people incapable of reading, and a grotesque injustice all Americans.
The key point I am making is that al Quaida, the socalled neverendingwaronterror, and evildoers are pathetic Bush government constructs.
Are American's and socalled realists expected to believe that these cavemen are a threat to our way of life and the unique experiment that WAS America's democracy.
Framing this conflict against the jihadist mass murderers as a "WAR" or in any terms linking to "WAR" is a fundamental component of the disinformation and propaganda the fascist Bush government ruthlessly exploits and uses as a "Pearl Harbor like event" to mesmerize and terrorize the American people into turning a blind eye to, and robopathically condoning the NAZIFICATION of America and the perpetuation of the psychotic Pax Americana neverendingwar and empire agenda pimped by the fascist warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government.
The neverendingwaronterror is a PATENT LIE, perpetuated by pathological liars, sloganeers, and disinformation warriors who singularly and exclusively, - not to mention wantonly PROFIT from it's prosecution.
The only human beings on earth that benefit from these freakish, bloody, costly, noendinsight, and obscenely PROFITABLE machinations and policies - are select klans, cabals, cartels, coteries, cronies, and oligarchs in or beholden to the fascists in the Bush government.
The rest of America, all Iraqi's, and most of the rest of the world are either paying a terrible enormous price for these CRIMES, or working feverishly to counter the hegemony, predation, and wanton profiteering of the fascist warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government.
As we see in Somalia, - the only way to deal with jihadists, salafists, wahabi's and the malignant freaks that perpetuate the mass murder and freakish insanity of jihadist islam, - is to hunt, capture, and kill every single one of them, and all those who aid and abet them.
These are covert, intelligence centric, POLICE actions, not a neverendingwaronterror.
Like all gangs and gangbangers past and present from John Dillinger, Bonnie, Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnies and Clyde, and Al Copone, to the modern mafia's all over the world, - wise and intelligent leadership must conduct LEGAL and ruthless polices actions, involving under-cover, covert, deep cover, assets and systems and all the assets, resources, and systems available to ruthless hunt, capture, or kill every single mass murderer and all those who aid and abet them.
Just as local police services collaborate with, collate and utilize information from a wide variety of intelligence sources in a determined and ruthless hunt for any mass murder that would plague any city, - so we must direct are focus, energy, and assets, (and every tool in the shed) on hunting, capturing, or killing every jihadist mass murder on the planet, and all those who aid and abet them. The hunt will, and must include the jihadist mass murderers of Hamas, Hesbollah, al Aqsa, Islama Jamiyaa, al Quaida, blah, blah, blah, - those shaitans and freaks called the Janjaweed, - all of them, and all those who aid and abet them, should and must be hunted, captured, or killed.
I applaud the slaugher of the jihadists in Somalia. Bravo. Why did the Bush government wait so long? How hard can it be? These people are freaks, with AK-47's, RPG's, and IED's, the technicals in Somalia have heavier weapons, but they are no match for puff the majik dragon and the hell and fury our hypersuperior military can and should unleash upon them whenever they are discovered or rear thier mass murderering heads.
Invading, occupying, and marauding soveriegn nations, slaughtering thousands of the victim nations innocent civilians in the process, conducting religious reformations, and forcing perverted political constructs upon the people of the victim nation, erecting puppet governments bowing to, and perpetuating the will and way of the invading, occupying, marauding, slaughering force, - and finally that imperialist fascist force PROFITEERING wantonly in and from the bloody, costly, and unholy process is TYRANNY, IMPERIALISM, and FASCISM, not liberation, or promoting democracy, or minimizing threats to America.
The Bush government are pathological liars, nothing they say or do, has any semblence, or the slightest hint of truth, credibility, or legitimacy.
Unless and until America garners the courage and the wisdom to recognize that our government is commandeered by FASCIST, criminals, and war profiteers, - our future, and the future for most of the world will continue to be bloody, costly, deceptive pursuit of neverendingwar.
Sorry for rambling, but please -
"Deliver us from evil!"
Your statement is exactly the point that I was trying to raise: "I meant primarily the Khomeinists on the Shia side and the neo-Salafists among the Sunni." Any one who is resisting US strategies in ME is a "Radical Muslim".
In fact, you are wrong about Khomeini; he was the most progressive Muslim of the last millennium: he successfully amalgamated the principles of Republicanism and the Principles of Islam. He put a government structure in place that engages the Muslim masses - something that no Muslim polity has yet succeeded in doing. But that is a different topic.
The Caliphate (or better its disposition) was an issue in 1920s with the fall of the Ottoman Empire for the Sunni Muslims (and not for the Shia for whom the Caliphate was illegitimate from the get-go). The call for its resurrection and for the recovery of Al Andulus is just that; talk. Just like the talk of an Super Arab State that never went any where due to its impracticality. It is, in fact, indicative of the rather poor state of the historical education among broad segments of the Muslim populations that such un-historical narratives can capture men's minds. There was an Umayyad (sic) caliphate, for example, that was replaced by the Abbasids (except in Western North Africa were the Umayyad continued for a long time) which in turn was replaced by the Ottomans several centuries after its destruction by Mongols. So! One has to ask these people who push the Caliphate: "Which one?"
About Iran: The Leadership of Iran has been against Israel from day one of the Iranian Revolution. They are not anti-Semitic (in my judgment) in the Western sense - but they are not pleased with the abuse of Palestinians, the invasion of Lebanon (1982) etc. The Western people have turned the Shoa into some sort of semi-Religious principle - you can urinate on the cross but not on the Diary of Anne Frank (which is a fabrication according to Alfred Lilliental). The abuse of Shoa by Israel and her supporters has destroyed its credibility to Muslims. Mr. Ahmadinejad is saying what hundreds of millions of Muslims are thinking - and you know what - my guess is 2/3 of the Muslim leaders also agree with him but are afraid of West to say it. In this, West and Israel have lost the Muslim people.
Specifically about Mr. Ahmadinejad: he has tried to rationalize the Iranian government and make it into a more normal country. He wanted to permit women into sport stadia but was overruled by the conservative religious elements. He was willing to discuss the opening of a US Interest Section in Tehran. He wrote to letters to America; one to Bush and the other one to the American people. These were gestures of a statesman who wanted to start a dialogue. But the current US government was incapable of doing anything but ignore these overtures.
I think that as time goes by the Iranian position which is the dissolution of the State of Israel will become increasingly more probable. I think that the two-state solution is dead - it cannot be done any more - 40 years of facts on the ground cannot be swept aside by pieces of paper. The only viable solution now is the bi-national state which, by definition, will mean the end of the Zionist project.
I also disagree with your disagreement when I characterized Zarqawi and his ilk as conservative - they are religiously conservative Muslims - unlike Khomeini who broke with Al Ghazzali on six major points. The 9/11, London, Madrid, and Bali attacks were all against non-Muslims targets from states - that according to Al Zarqawi - were waging a war to destroy Islam and Muslims. My impression is that large majorities of (Sunni) Muslims agree with the characterization of this war as a war waged by Christians and Jews to Destroy Islam.
Just like the American Civil War in which many Northerners did not agree with John Brown's methods but approved of his aims - this is a case such as that. In this sense, US has already lost not only the Iraq War but the War against Sunni extremism.