One False Move And The Iraqi Gets It!
I, along with much of the rest of the world, have been subjected to a shower of slimy Republican Talking Points which are losing their powers of supplication in inverse proportion to the strenghtening reek of decaying entrails, re: Iraq and dangers of pulling out thereof. But there's no escape from the blitz of the Mighty Wurlitzer that keeps blaring these dusty old 45s they keep on steady rotation. We at Casa Lord don't even watch grown-up TV, and still they found us. Here is the most-repeated play, which went to #1 with a bullet and has stayed for 128 weeks at the top of the charts:
"If we pull out of Iraq, there will be a civil war!"It's time for an emetic and a bath. It's also time I got around to calling a BCA (Bullshit Curtain Alert): umm, Iraq is already in a civil war. The T.P.'s crazy logic is reminescent of the famous Cleavon Little scene in "Blazing Saddles" where he holds himself hostage to escape a hostile crowd. Using this phrase as an occupation's justificatioin is every bit as surreal as the scene in Blazing Saddles, and up until now it was just as effective. It's getting a little old for even the most respectable members of the crowd, such as eminent War-Whores like Senators Lugar and Warner, who are introducing a bill to start pulling troops back. The difference with this bill is the authors claim to be from the same party as the President. Which is a matter of fair conjecture, at this point. Who can be sure what to call what occupies the White House now. (The Vietnam Re-enactment Society? The Non-Veterans of Foreign Wars?)
Many professionals would disagree with my analysis below, believing that if the US pulls out of Iraq, conditions there will worsen. That's fine if they disagree, because they're wrong, so wrong their skulls seem to be permanently stuck in their pelvic cavities. How they've kept breathing so long through those straws is plum amazin'.
A former wargaming partner with real tactical talents asked me three years ago how Iran (the real M.-E. objective) could be beaten. Since Iran had already won, this was a tough question, but there might've once been a last-ditch way to get them. Pull out as fast as possible, and create a surprise power vacuum. In other words, get them to invade Iraq, which would make our problems their problems and rally the countries in the region against them to create dynamic, albeit bloody, stability. The idea was to fast-forward what's likely to happen anyway, skipping over a few steps, possibly decades, of regional conflict to achieve "Blood Borders." The flaw in my plan was that even three years ago, Iran probably wasn't dumb enough to get trapped. Their mistakes had not been exploitable and they continued to play brilliantly. Still, they would get drawn into the vacuum by proxy, naturally so: through SCIRI, a porous mutual border, and via a number of other Shiite parties with close Iranian ties.
The US, by contrast, has been not only dumb, but desperate. Israel has already gotten its tail sucked into a humiliating defeat because of it. Hundreds of thousands of Israeli soldiers have been doing show-and-tells on "Why I Got My Ass Kicked in Lebanon Last Summer." Now the US-Israeli-UK axis is trying to execute the last part of the Surround and Starve Iran Plan. The current BushCo-Cheney idea, evocative of the Leonard Cohen song of similar cadence, boils down to: "First we take Damascus. Then we take Tehran!" Neutralizing Syria ostensibly cuts off Iran. And Lebanon from Iran. Neat, huh? Slight problems: 1) it doesn't really cut off Iran, but drives them further into Russian, Chinese, even Indian arms; 2) there is a Russian naval base in Syria; 3) Russia is Israel's primary petro-products supplier.
Even with relatively easy military victories in Syria and Lebanon, which are very doubtful, it's hard to see how Israel can come out ahead. Hezbollah's cohesion in Lebanon isn't breakable, and attacking it again may even result in serious incursions into Israel itself, loss of position in the Bekaa Valley, and loss of controlling much-needed river waters in that area. Syrian forces have entered 3km into Lebanon, and have been building defensive positions there for at least the past month. Whether Israel's gambit succeeds or not, the US can pull back and stay in Balad, Basra, the Green Zone, and the super-base going up in Kirkuk for the next 10 years, like crusaders retreating to castles to stave off the Saracens. But so what? That's not victory. It's a lease on defeat with a four-year warranty.
It's much easier to see how a detente between the Saudis, Yemenis, Iranians, Syrians, Emirates, and Kuwaitis could form around the extraction of the huge oil reserves in Western Iraq. Doing so would open up a revenue stream that would benefit everybody and have profound effects on the region. Even the West would benefit. While Western oil companies would lose majority control over their beloved sludge and its profits, they could still participate as minorities. Iran would be mollified, able to get enough refined gasoline (which they don't produce much of, so they must import it), and happy with direct influence in a new Southern-Shia Rump of Iraq, with the Tigris a natural border and limit between Persians and Arabs. As I previously wrote in "Turkey Masses 150,000 on Northern Iraq Border...And Much, Much More!" Turkey could grab Kurdistan, or exert increased control over it, getting oil in exchange for being wracked by an indefinite ethnic insurgency.
The federation which would result from a near-complete US retreat from Iraq, a Mid-East Council for Cooperation and Assistance (MECCA, if you're into acronyms) is the vehicle for bringing peace to Iraq and the entire Mid-East conflict. It could easily make a truce with Israel, because it can offer Israel much closer access to oil and gas, granting it the energy security the US has failed to provide. In other words, Israel would get a direct pipeline to the relatively close-by Iraqi fields, and could even become an international oil player by building refineries. Israel's quid pro quo to the pan-Arab federation would be to end the Palestinian apartheid and finally grant Palestine national autonomy. Thus the required keystone to Peace's unfinished archway in the Mid-East can be fitted. This is what Jim Baker saw as the political solution. It is expressed in veiled language in his Iraq Study Groups 79 points. Like him, I know that given the staggering amounts of money and liquid security involved, it would work. There is lot of bad blood to get over, but money, new partnerships, and intermarriage have been the historical means of the atonements which secure peace. Women may be wreakers of all manner of domestic strife, but on tribal to national scales they have long been called "the vessels of peace."
There are a number of personally unattractive consequences to the above approach and consequences. To whom are they most unattractive?
Not The Bin Laden Group. It would be quite content, and would largely push its competitor Halliburton out of regional oil services. As a result of its central position of power and utility, that family might quickly become the titular as well as de facto rulers of Saudi Arabia. Even if the facade of the current Saudi Royal Family is maintained, an oil sinecure for the Sunnis in Iraq is thereby ensured, which is what they're fighting hardest over. They won't stop until they get it or all die. Official Bin Laden control of Saudi Arabia would bring stability to the wahabist Saudis, who generally desire to see the Saudi royal family roasted like luau-ed like pigs. And once the Bin Ladens gain full control at home, they would set about forming a United States of Pan-Arabia. Hopefully they will choose a different name. (I still like MECCA.)
Western oil companies would come up on the short end of the stick, as they would neither be wanted or much needed. Russian and Chinese capital are fully capable of financing development in the region, and their hoards of foreign exchange beg to be put to this use. Their arms industries would be winners, too. Cheaper, effective Russian and Chicom weapons would provide the non-political means of the region's security. Another big winner would be Iran (oh, the humiliation), and the Great Game would be effectively over, those with the natural advantages in geography, proximity, logistics, and intelligence having, unsurprisingly and finally, won after 150 years of continuous struggle over Tehran and Baghdad.
The big losers would be the Carlyle Group, the US/Western Miltary Industry, a few huge neo-colonial Western oil companies, and Halliburton. This, of course, cannot be allowed to happen. One must think Cheney and others would rather see the whole region burnt to brimstone and treacle. So, professional or not, it's anybody's guess how this will play out.