More Nonsense from DC …

Anyone in need or want of a ready-made lesson on the psychosis that grips US policy toward the Middle East should check out this article in the Washington Post by Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack.

The article’s ominous beginning (“debate is over”) should alert the sensate that something is very wrong here … The authors contend that Iraq is now in a state of civil war and I would agree and think that no person would seriously debate that fact. In listing the causes and consequences of such a civil war, the authors attempt to patch together a forward direction for US policy in Iraq.

Unlisted, unexamined, unquestioned, however, is the role of the US occupation in contributing to civil war in Iraq. It is the proverbial 800 pound gorilla that is ignored by policy wonks in the US because such an analysis crosses political red lines. (I would add that such an analysis would also require Mr. Pollack to re-examine his defense of the invasion).

In the end, the piece will serve as the Democratic prescription for Iraq in the coming electoral battles, but ultimately it is first and foremost a defense and apology for the continued occupation of Iraq.

Quite tellingly, the authors write: “How Iraq got to this point is now an issue for historians (and perhaps for voters in 2008); what matters today is how to move forward and prepare for the tremendous risks an Iraqi civil war poses for this critical region.”

How Iraq got to this point? I guarantee you that these authors either don’t know or don’t want their readers to know … How pathetic …


9 Replies to “More Nonsense from DC …”

  1. it’s a well understood fact that this is what the US wanted to happen in Iraq and that this will secure its continuous military presence and securing of the pipelines for as long as it remains there. maybe this is naive but why are the iraqis engaging in a civil war and not focusing on their real enemy for now? i know it’s a widely used tactic to throw in a bomb here and there by the CIA or the mossad even and blame it on the locals to flame endless sectarian fights, isn’t time for us to see through this? again maybe it’s overly simplistic but it seems that even in lebanon we united for a while against our historical more complelling enemy.

  2. I think you overestimate the competence and intelligence of the United States.

    I still don’t know why the US invaded Iraq and you would find it difficult to locate someone more leftwing than I am. I do not buy the oil argument as there are much easier and cheaper and successful ways to control oil production in Iraq and elsewhere. I also do not buy the argument that the US wanted to project its military power eastward, as again there are cheaper and more efficient ways to do so. I also do not buy the “he tried to kill my daddy” argument. Of course, and I dont think this requires saying, I do not believe the US invaded Iraq because of WMDs or the promotion of democracy. All of these factors, except the last two, may help explain what motivated the invasion and occupation, but none by themselves, or in conjunction, fully explain the US war on Iraq. The last two explain what made it politically possible in the US to launch an invasion.

    I am much more sympathetic to the notion that the US wanted a force demonstration in the Middle East for reasons related to domestic politics, terrorism, oil and military power (call these puported US interests). Israel wanted a similar demonstration in Lebanon.

    As for fueling sectarian strife, well it has been documented that the US has used such tactics in Iraq and elsewhere, but I think it important to note that these actions relate to tactics, not strategy. THe strategic goal in Iraq is to create a government sympathetic to the interests of the United States. Achieving this goal has involved the tactic of weakening or strenghtening particular groups by playing on pre-existing sectarian tensions.

    We see the same with Israel’s collective punishment of Lebanon (tactic) to weaken Hizbullah (strategy).

    I do not think the US wanted a civil war in Iraq (too expensive financially and politically) and I do not think Israel wanted a civil war in Lebanon (too dangerous — and I remind you of why the Israelis ever agreed to having the Syrians in Lebanon as my evidence).

    I would say much the same with respect to the colonial penetration of the Ottoman Empire and the use of sectarian political identities by the Great Powers to secure their particular interests.

    The difference might seem a minor one in that the effect can largely be the same, but I think it important (know thine enemy).

    I could go on and on about this, but I think we probably agree about what the dangers are and why they should be avoided, but it is also important to be clear about what exactly is going on (or try to be clear, rather).

  3. i think the US would easily have the power to overthrow the regime of saddam without all this, if you want to argue that there are cheaper means. it always turns out that wars are of benefit to the people who run the arms industries and these are the corporates/leaders who are deciding on the efficiency of these wars.

    it does make sense that this show of muscles would deter other arabic nations but i can’t think of an arabic country that would come close to be threatening to the US or israel.

    maybe the way in lebanon is not about the oil directly but if the war in iraq is not about the oil, what is it about really?
    the new world order that serves the US as the only super power today revolves around policing the middle east, guarding the interests of the US in the region which all goes back to the oil.

    i find the oil argument to be very convincing.

  4. To be sure, oil is the anchor of US interests in Iraq and the Gulf, but that does not explain the war, it only makes it possible. I think the reality of the situation is much more complex and must include other factors.

    I think it is important to recognize that the US government is capable of pursuing policies that work at cross-purposes. Once you reach that conclusion, it becomes a matter of examining the interplay of domestic interests to explain a particular foreign policy.

    Again, I think, if pushed, I would agree on the centrality of the oil issue, but it is not the whole picture … I would also question the ability of the US government to affect a particular policy goal due to a number of issues, including institutional competence, bureaucratic rivalries, and competing political interests, among others.

    I would also argue that the same kind of linear thinking infects and distorts analysis of the relationship between the US and Israel.

    If the problems were really that simple, people a lot smarter than me would have come up with the right answers long ago …

  5. i think, if i may, that you tend to overestimate the originality of this administration. history is full of incidences of intelligence operations leading to the pretext for US military intervention that serves to keep the US in power and to protect its gains. this is yet another example of US foreign operations.
    if anything the domestic politics and the ‘bipartisan’, if any, issues today prove that this war is only serving the neo-cons view of the middle east which is a police state governing the oil in the region and using israel as a watchdog for US military operations. i don’t really know where israel ends and US starts anymore. i don’t think anybody does with the increasing domination of the israel lobby. so i wouldn’t think of the israel/US relationship, throughout modern history mind you, of mutual as much as i think it’s one and the same government.

    i think the crazies in office today left no room for delicacy or diplomacy. it’s pretty overt what the strategy and the purpose are. the position of the pro-american arab nations even proves that.

  6. You are most welcome to point out any of the errors in my thinking. My only fear is that they are of such a multitude, one could not gather them up all at once, or even within a longer interval of time.

    If I may make a recommendation that may provide some insight into what I am trying to say (unsuccessfully, it appears), please look into Chomsky’s criticism of the Walt and Mearsheimer piece.

    I am of the opinion that they are both right and both wrong. The relationship is not strictly one of patron-client (Chomsky) nor client-patron (W&M), nor one of cocentricity, as you seem to argue, but rather one of symbiosis.

    I also think you would be surprised how many in the US government actually believe what they say publicly. I know that boggles the brain (I call it psychosis in the blog and blush when I see it in person), but it seems to be one of the strange side-effects of empire, at home and abroad …

  7. chomsky’s response is rather weak. it doesn’t recognize the fact that the client shares the patron’s interest and aspirations in the region. so the oil and most definitely arms lobbies are incorporated within the israel lobby. it’s not the state of israel anymore, it’s the zionist running america. and their response to chomsky’s deficient argument is too simplistic and just inaccurate, “To the argument that oil rather than Israel drives Middle East policy, they claim that if that were so, the United States would favour the Palestinians instead of Israel, and would not have gone to war in Iraq or now be threatening Iran.”
    they have the saudis and they paved the way through invading iraq and in the future iran for the uninterrupted oil pipelines.

    so yes they’re both right, on one hand i agree with the israel lobby article that the lobby does control this administration, not just AIPAC but neocons themselves. i see israel as part of the US, a very strategic military base in the ME for the US. and the oil business serves the US/Israel.

  8. you know what, chomsky does only mention few arguments for the sake of balancing the equation and he does mention that it might be symbiotic. recently though with the evangelicals gone mad, their needed votes, with howard dean calling almaliki anti-semite because he won’t call HA terrorists!! no i see the israel lobby running america.

    the US and israel have been accomplices in greed and expansion and basically robbing the arabs off and keeping them in the dark. so really what does it matter.. we’re screwed we’re screwed (i mean we lebanese and arabs).

  9. Well, if it makes you feel any better, I think if these policies continue we are ALL screwed (Lebanese, Arabs, Americans, Israelis, Iranians, etc…)

    Actually, I put my hope in the Israelis because I think the Americans are too oblivious and detached and the Arabs too divided, weak and misguided.

    I would add that I think we have reached the pinnacle of global US power and are beginning to see some imperial fraying … This should probably not be cheered as it will likely result in a lot of violence, but I really do think the delayed payments of the cold war are going to come due in the near future, quite possibly sooner than anyone realizes … And I think the Israelis might realize that before anyone else, although it might be groups like Hizbullah that do the teaching …

    I know that maybe hard to see right now, but I would bet that within my lifetime the scale and scope of US power across the globe is dramatically reduced … What rises in its place, I have no idea …

    I also think that statements like “the israel lobby is running america” are anti-Semitic. As an American and with reference to the W&M piece, my concern about the US invasion of Iraq is not the influence of the pro-Israel lobby on US foreign policy (they can do as they please — although I do think that AIPAC should be registered as a foreign entity) but rather the US electorate’s slavish acceptance of the US administration’s nonsense …

    I assume you know that most US aid to Israel, like most foreign aid in general, returns to the pockets of US corporations, so I think we have to be careful about identifying the source of Israel’s bellicosity.

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