And today the nations meet in Baghdad, between the Tigris and Euphrates. Former empires convene with one which is faltering, as if to form an exclusive club, whose first meeting is to decide who controls the energy. Sharing Iraq's oil equitably amongst its people was the only political solution, the one carrot able to balance so many sticks; a black carrot and a black mustache bound its deep divisions, for a time, into a nation. It was a nation which once did our bidding, and attacked the Iranians for expelling our treasured corporations, those which bring us foreign tribute in the form of cheap, distilled, beautifully combustible Go-Juice. Now Iranians are come unbowed to Baghdad, to discuss how to stabilize Iraq. Addled heads in narrow frames can repeat hubristic sound-bites, but the longer, wider, more perspicacious gaze of history sees all, and its dry whisper will not deny. Iran arrives as victor.
The quote in bold above is attributed to Henry Kissinger, who a dozen days ago finally deliberated his glabrous hulk across the protesting earth to the Foreign Affairs podium, to call for a Time Out:
Ironic, and I suppose fitting that a senior mass murderer once again slips the leash on his juniors. Cheney and Rumsfeld absolutely despised Kissinger in their Nixon days, and when they came to run the Ford Administration, it was payback time. And you know what they say about payback, when the chance comes 'round again.
The international conference should be the occasion, as well, to go beyond the warring factions in Iraq to moving toward a stable energy supply. It would be the best framework for a transition from American military occupation. Paradoxically, it may also prove the best framework for bilateral discussions with Syria and Iran.
American military policy in Iraq must be related to such a diplomatic strategy. Unilateral withdrawal on fixed timetables, unrelated to local conditions, is incompatible with the diplomacy described here.
The willingness of other countries to participate in such an effort depends importantly on their assessment of the balance of power in the Middle East after the end of the war in Iraq. A successful diplomacy requires that American power remain relevant and available in support of a coherent regional policy.
After the Thirty Years' War, the nations of Europe organized an international conference to set rules for ending the war, after the continent had been left prostrate and exhausted.
The world now has a comparable opportunity today. Will it seize it while it still has a margin of decision, or must it wait until exhaustion and despair leave no alternative?
Henry Kissinger is an evil poison dwarf straight out of an unsavory fairy tale, but his view of history is long, and his comparison of the Mid-East to the Europe of the Thirty Years' War is apt indeed. Islam is in the throes of a Great Reformation not unlike what occurred to Christianity after Martin Luther nailed up his 95 Theses in Wittenberg Castle on All Hallow's Eve, 1517. The Christians had the printing press. The Muslims have the Internet. He understands this.
One wonders how the cabal which makes waste lands and calls them democracies is digesting this attempt to head off war. The Baghdad conference is great progress, and I pray it succeeds. Yet I am also aware of who prays it does not, and that they possess means far more immediate, immoderate, and inflammatory than prayer. I wonder about the time and manner in which they'll choose to forestall the diplomacy efforts. Will they use an Iranian missile-mine plunged into the underside of the USS Pretext, a GBU-28, or will they resort to tommy guns like an Edward G. Robinson movie?
Henry Kissinger is able to place the problematic consequences of inconsiderate action into a wide array of context. Whereas, Cheney and Rumsfeld would have little understanding of such analogies, less interest in them. Their view is no longer than dogs when disturbed from licking themselves, suddenly moved to howls by music from a sweet-strung Stradivarius. While the indoor concert plays, if great care isn't taken to chain the bloodhounds and lock them securely into the maintenance shed, they will surely disrupt the evening's proceedings in a most irreparable way.
The ghost of Alexander paces Babylon tonight, re-counting his plunder of Bactrian gold. The forgotten Sumerians, the Hittites, the Chaldeans join the Egyptians and the Ottomans to line the muddy Tigris, singing chants of empire, prayers for prosperity and peace. Let the snake find its deep hole, the scorpion its crevice, and the hyena its exit.