Tuesday, January 23, 2007

If it's a xeno-DESERT, can't we just exit it?

speak softly and carry a big sticker

TenaciousK takes me to task in a comment on my post below for wanting to cut and run, and for not having any real suggestions.

Taking our toys and going home: it's not just egregious, or doubly egregious, it's monstrous, horrendous, barbaric, add on all the bad adjectives you can think of. We're already complicit in the genocide that's happening/going to happen. Too late to not be.

Will it be worse if we leave or if we stay? No way to ever know. We either stay there and count the dead, or we leave and count the dead. Either way, we tell ourselves that if we'd done it the other way, it would have been worse.

Has anybody asked the people in Iraq if they want our intervention? Or anybody's intervention, for that matter?

My guess is no, nobody ever asked. Way back before you or I were ever born, but still in rather recent history, some Western powers got together and drew some lines on a map: ... and this section shall be called Iraq ... and they just shuffled together parts or wholes of various tribes, clans. peoples, whathaveyou into one "country."

Because they're all Muslims, these people all look alike to us Westerners. What does it matter which of them gets assigned to live in which country? Hunh. To paraphrase Tom Lehrer: the Shi'ites hate the Sunnis, and the Sunnis hate the Shi'ites, and everybody hates the Kurds!

Suggestions? I have some, but nobody's going to like them.

Do we take our toys and go home? I'm fine with laying down our toys on the ground, leaving them behind in the sandbox, and slinking home. I'm fine with taking whatever monies we've appropriated and not yet spent and spending it on food, water, arms, and ammunition, dropping them out of the sky onto Iraqi soil as we airlift our soldiers out of there.

Do we stay and continue to provide intervention? Okay, but how about this: we stay long enough to broker a peaceful division of "Iraq" into at least three separate states, one for the Sunnis, one for the Shi'ites, and one for the Kurds. If we truly want to spread democracy in the Middle East, this might be the way to go.

Of course, the Kurds in Armenia and Turkey and Iran may all want to split off and make a whole new Kurdistan. And Iran may want to annex the Iraqi Shi'ites --- and their oil fields --- though it's unclear whether they'd like to be Iranians or have their own state, and if they have their own state Iran may forcibly annex them anyway.

We want to "stabilize" the Middle East because we want their cheap and easy oil. If for some reason we can't get our hands on that oil, we sure as hell don't want anybody else to get it. Whatever it is we end up doing to assuage our consciences, is mostly just going to assuage our consciences.


TenaciousK said...

rsljxuso (you have the hardest word verification I ever come across)
reisling just carried us over.

Assauging our conscience. Is that a bad thing, when we have such a guilty conscience to assauge? Of course, it would be nice if we could assauge our conscience in such a way that might actually be helpful...

There is no good answer at this point. Leaving all the guns and stuff, though - I'm thinking enough havoc has already been wreaked by guns and stuff the US has dispersed across the globe.

I wonder - is this parallel to what the third reich faced? You know, like "Well, we've rounded up all these Jews and such, taken all their stuff, broken them down, wounded them in such a way that they'll carry a lifelong hatred, and now we don't know what to do with them!" Maybe we should just cut to the chase and get the gas-chambers going.

How does one make amends for an unprovoked, unconscionable, catastrophic attack? I don't think saying something like, "Gosh, we're really sorry - good luck with the country-building and stuff" and buggering off is defensible. There've been so many mistakes made - at least the British initially had a better thing going, with their policy of on-the-street engagement (that is, friendly engagement).

I don't see anyone other than the UN who would have even a modicum of credibility. Frankly, the best alternative I can come up with is to fund some good ol' fashioned organized crime lords - people who are in it purely for the money, and fuck the Jihad. Maybe pure greed coupled with power could stabilize things enough, get the trains running and all, that the populace could quit worrying so much about survival, and start worrying instead about things like individual freedoms, and ethics, and such. Organized crime would also undermined the theocracy, of course, with whom they would be directly competing.

People conveniently forget the US has had a tremendous learning curve, and a checkered past full of mistakes, graft, corruption, and eventual takeover by a corrupt government funded by big business. I'm sure if we granted the Iraqis similar lattitude, they could come up with a system equivalently corrupt.

SCzzdh: 'sup cuzz, dreamy hipparchia?

TenaciousK said...

PS. I love the sticker, BTW.

US foreign policy follows a venerable tradition: you know, biggest stick, biggest bully rules - things any child learned on the playground, when the teachers weren't looking.

tmrzi: tomorrow's instinct

Anonymous said...

well, the kurds in the north and the shi'ites in the south are each sitting on a fair amount of oil, and the sunnis would have some oil, though not much if they can't get their hands on baghdad and environs.

[interactive map]

if we leave, that removes the main jihad targets [us westerners] and then they can all let good old-fashioned greed take over as they get down to the business of selling their oil.

or we can stay there and continue to get in the way and get more people killed while we apply [which is the one that stings? mercurochrome? merthiolate?] to our bleeding hearts.

we wouldn't even have to send in the dons. as i understand it, there are plenty of warlords waiting in the wings who'd do the job for a chance at the oil riches.

i think it's likely the violence would escalate, but the indigenous* gangsters are all going to have a better idea than we do of what carrottage and stickage to wield.

* yes, i realize that outsiders, syrians, iranians, etc, are joining in, and will continue to

uflocsr: you fly-over customer service representative

TenaciousK said...

...if we leave, that removes the main jihad targets [us westerners] and then they can all let good old-fashioned greed take over as they get down to the business of selling their oil.

If I had any confidence this is what was going to happen, I'd feel a lot better about it. What with relatively mighty (and periodically real-estate hungry) neighbors, violent clashes between religious divisions, and the kurds (who everybody, with the exception of themselves and the US/allies, seem to dislike), I don't think greed is going to be the primary motivating factor for the first while.

The money gets all tied up in it, of course, but I'm thinking that people operating on purely economic terms would be much easier to deal with - cut through all the ethnic and religious crap entirely. In a simplistic sense, this might be what we call "governments."

See, the problem is there are all these people over there now who aren't satisfied with being wealthy - they also want to be right. The kurds want to justify their existence with a Republic of Kurdistan (that inconveniently includes parts of other countries who are not hip on giving up their own real estate), while the Sunni and the Shia want to emerge as the "right" islam, and I remember reading something about Baathists and ubermensch.

So I don't know if the local warlords can cut it or not - the litmus test should be corruptibility. If these folks are willing to be self-serving and abandon other considerations, we can deal with them.

Eventually, one of them will come out as the top dog, ruthlessly put down competitors, and try to provide some innoculation against mindless religiosity (education) as a means of defusing the muslim extremists. He'll be relatively pro-Western, because we're the people with the money and the capitalist system, and we'll be hip on him because he provides a check to the other power structures in the area.

Wouldn't that be a relief?

His name, of course, will be Saddam.

esgfko: easygoing freak-out
qhuszlu: quiet hussein zionist luvers [these don't have to make sense, do they?]

Keifus said...

Frankly, the best alternative I can come up with is to fund some good ol' fashioned organized crime lords - people who are in it purely for the money, and fuck the Jihad.

Actually, I don't think that's too far a cry from teh early neocon model.


bzpgjp: buzz, pop! goes the joint.
wgvphcmd: or we give them pharmaceuticals maybe?

(damn meeting. back later.)

TenaciousK said...

neoqi: neocon quorum intransigence.

Keifus, you're right of course. Remember the "He may be a bastard but he's our bastard" mentality?

Saddam would still be our bestest buddy in the region if he hadn't invaded Kuwait. I think lots of people would welcome a new Saddam grabbing for power at this point.

Just another way of describing how tragic the current situation is, I guess.

vtjfu: verily, thine justifications are fucked up.