Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Honest Iraq War reasoning

Nice commentary by William Rivers Pitt on the real reasons for the Iraq War on the site truthout:

"Here's the deal: we invaded Iraq to establish a permanent, muscular military presence in the Middle East; we invaded Iraq to take control of their petroleum reserves for the next hundred years, a pretty little piggy bank in a world where oil is becoming harder to find; we invaded Iraq so we could use our military presence there to attack and invade several other countries in the region; we invaded Iraq to establish strategic positioning for any economic and/or resource struggles with China and Russia; we invaded Iraq because administration officials who think they are members of the Likud Party believed this war would serve to protect and defend the state of Israel; we invaded Iraq so a bunch of military contractors with umbilical ties to the administration could get paid."

It's incredible to hear supporters of the decision to invade Iraq who don't want to hear about natural rsources as a prime reason for committing American troops to the region. Pro or con, natural resources is a very important component of any scheme to invade and occupy Iraq. The whole S. Asian region is embroiled in battles over natural resources with two of the largest consumers in the world right at the doorstep of the rich Caspian region and the Middle East: China and India. A former superpower with the bruised ego equivalent to that of the former French superpower stands on top of the world fighting to keep a piece of real estate worth a lot of Russian blood to maintain a grip on their former empire's oil capital Grozny. The Russian invasion of their own province is ALL about oil and the sole aircraft fuel refinery in Russia. Plans for a pipeline from the Caspian to the Black Sea shipping lanes has been publicized since early in the Clinton administration. Chechnya has been a sore spot for Russia since the very beginning of the collapse of the USSR. US negotiations with the Taliban to bypass the Russian trouble zone by building pipelines through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean via Pakistan troubled the Kremlin and Putin always has in mind the potential for Russia to become marginalised in its former satellites in the Caspian region including Krgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan. Natural gas and oil of the Caspian region has certainly drawn the attention of China, which borders Afghanistan in the southeast and the former Soviet satellites, and India. Russia will continue to make nice with the giants, but will also keep a wary eye on them for good reason.

Another noteworthy point of Pitt is the positioning argument for the war. The US have troops and equipment along the eastern and western border of Iran along with American allies Pakistan and Turkey, another nation with a sore spot which a pipeline to the world's shipping lanes will cross in the Kurd areas. The Kurds and Turks have been enemies for the longest and an independent Kurdistan is troublesome for the Turks, who have traded heavy losses with Kurdish insurgents in the past. Iran is firmly in the sites of US military power and perhaps some of Ahmadinejad's lunacy has resulted from the uneasiness of the US's recent history with the Bush administration in the White House. The US is in a position to invade any number of smaller nations in the region from the Middle East to central Asia. The Russians and Chinese have been trying to push the US out of basis in the former Soviet Caspian republics and have succeeded in persuading dictator Karimov of Uzbekistan to oust American bases supporting the Afghan mission.

Having accepted the totality of an argument for American involvement, Melivn Laird, for example in Foreign Affairs magazine, argues "so what?" Is the nation's need for oil no longer a legitimate reason to unleash American military power? Laird has a point except the potential "blowback" as experienced on 9/11 and the hundreds of terrorist attacks across the globe committed by actual Afghan war veterans or those whom those veterans have recruited and trained. 9/11 was the quintessential "blowback" event and invading Iraq could lead to a replication of the effect. The selling of the Iraq War was heavily dependent on the 9/11 connection. The fear that Saddam was building WMD and was planning to use it is indubitably a 9/11 argument for Bush's preemeptive strike. A 9/11 argument for the Iraq War is missing the point entirely of potential results of the ill will which a military solution to a lingering concern might engender. Laird is honest and is certainly a perspective on this issue to hear. In his Foreign Affairs article he laments the Ford decision to nix funding of the S. Vietnamese war effort and fears such a development could arise in Iraq. Funding shouldn't be cut off from what emerges as the legitimate Iraqi government when or if our troops ever fully withdrawn from Iraq. My thinking is that Wes Clark's proposal to position American troops along the borders of Syria and Iran isn't a bad idea. Our troops must be working toward limiting exposure in Iraqi society and retreating to isolated bases within the nation as has been suggested by those in charge of this effort.

Another argument I've often heard among Arkansans is that "I'd rather fight 'em there, than here." That's a narrow argument at best. Another Foreign Affairs article which appeared recently posits that with such reasoning, one must be able to identify a finite number of terrorists to kill. The "blowback" effect includes the ability to recruit and train as many terrorists as a terror organization can muster. Iraq is today's training ground for terrorists and they all aren't going to be killed. Insurgencies of yesterday leave behind numbers of surviviors who had a change of heart about continuing a struggle, much like the inusrgency encountered by Americans in the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. Killing all the "terrorists" is impossible! It's REALLY difficult to tell a terrorist from a legitimate "freedom" fighter in today's murky world of guerrilla warfare. For example: Are ALL the Chechens committed to irregular warfare merely terrorists? If one would look at the entire history of Chechen/Russian relations one would see a bitter picture of Russian atrocities committed against these people. The Beslan attack was horrible, but Chechen civilians have been tortured and murdered to get at the "ghosts" who appear and then disappear hounding Russian troops who operate in and around Chechnya. I would like to see some real talks about an autonomous Chechen republic within a Russian state. Has such a compromise become impossible at this point? As in the Balkans, an uneasy truce at best can be expected, but I prefer what I see in the Balkans now than through the Nineties. Age-old remembrance of atrocities past must be allowed to abate for there to ever be peace in the present.

Circumspection is not a trait of the Bush-in-the-chinashop crowd. Laird is right: Natural resources are a fair consideration in the wise use of American military power as was exhibited by the elder Bush in his Gulf War. Saddam's aggression against Kuwait was a development which could be challenged militarily and one of the world's oil-rich regions was spared from the disruption of lingering wars and threats when a legitimate Coalition was formed and the world sent actual combat troops to the field to do battle alongside American and British troops, unlike today's war. The US is practically alone with the best the UK can offer. Moderation is key in developing an effective global military and diplomatic strategy to protect our nation from future attacks like the World Trade Center and to protect the industrialized world's energy resources. Our strategy must include our dealings with China, India, and Russia and their energy needs. They are growing rivals who spend an awful lot of money on their militaries. In percentage of GNP, China and India spend 20% +. Some sources believe India and Pakistan each spend in the 30s and 40s percentage-wise, a steep figure for two relatively poor countries, ergo the Pakistani drive for nuclear weapons. Pakistan is vastly outnumbered by its elephantine neighbor to the east. Nukes are an equalizer for the Pakistanis and nuclear development offers more bang for the buck (so to speak).

A sane, fair argument could be waged about the future of our incursion in Iraq and other plans the PNAC crowd have in store for us. The lack of honesty over the real meaning of Iraq by the neo-cons has left many Americans wary of any maneuver undertaken by the Bush administration. If the Iraq War was sold as a protection of resources presently available to the US as well as fears about the spread of the Islamic fundamentalist jihad, I doubt the clamor would be as deafening. On the other hand, selling a war as part of a competition between nuclear rivals for natural resources would not be the most politic argument in the history of American diplomacy. But this Iraq War invasion mess doesn't appear to have been such a wise choice either. A moderation of the pros and cons of the Iraq War is necesary to provide a clear,determined direction for the American people as a whole. We need leadership which is capable of shaping this difficulty in Iraq to our advantage or unimaginable horrors will result from the short-sighted, bullying strategy. I suspect the PNAC crowd believe military solutions provide quick, easy results. Such thinking is faulty at best, at least to thousands of American casualties and their families. "Blowback" from this particular war could unleash a terrible future for the world's citizens and I fear Bush's decision to invade Iraq will likely be responsible for worse acts of human cruelty than we've yet experienced.

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