February 23, 2007

Further Reasons for us to infer Middle Eastern Instability

One of the great bloggers that I didn't mention in my post about great blogs is James Higham. James writes a lot of perceptive stuff about all sorts of issues- coming from different angles- but this recent article on the problems of the Middle East and the way that Iran perceives that Saudi Arabia is an American stooge is a good demonstration of why the situation there is so unstable. As I indicated yesterday I am worried about the impact of a withdrawel of allied troops from Iraq because of the very real danger of them leaving a vacuum into which foreign powers pour their hatreds, with say the Turks invading to stop the Kurds, the Iranians to aid the Shia and the Saudis to aid the Sunni. You can imagine situations in which all of that might happen. What James indicates though is that throughout the region any of those moves- particularly on behalf of the Turks and Saudis will be interpreted by some as our actions that we in a sense own- which may funnel this civil war or regional war and the hatreds it produces outwards towards us. Imagine for example if Turkish forces commit an atrocity on Iraqis- one way of seeing that would be to see the Turks as traditional American allies doing Washington's bidding- it wouldn't be correct but it might be the prism through which Iran perceives matters. As James shows it is the prism through which the Iranians see Saudi mediation in Isreal-Palestine- so how would they see Saudi intervention in Iraq. These perceptions are destabilising because they encourage the radical anti-Westerners to see everything in black and white and not negotiate with local opponents and damaging to us because they threaten us with the fact that atrocities we did not commit could become owned by us and the losers of any conflict could blame the subtle hand of the Americans. There are arguments for withdrawel and I am not declaring against withdrawing- James just illustrates along with my piece on Imagined Community that should we withdraw that won't be the end of the matter.

LATER Pappusrif has left two very good comments questioning my argument at the bottom of this piece- rereading what I wrote I think I overstressed how much I oppose withdrawel- my opinion at the moment is that withdrawel might be the best of a set of bad options, I don't honestly know. But I want to sketch out some of the downsides to withdrawing- I've already sketched out some of the incoherencies in the Bush strategy of surge.

5 comments:

pappusrif said...

Gracchi,
Let me tell you that I enjoy reading you. I learn a lot from your blog even though I don’t comment so much. I have a hard time with my English. I can't even have a blog that may make you think.
A couple of comments though:
* (Reasons for us – our actions that we own – towards us – damaging to us – they threaten us – atrocities we did not commit – owned by us). I did not know that you are a General or a lobbyist participating actively in this war. I aknowledge that I was uncomfortable with your writing because you are talking as you are in the middle of this mess that was created when the US intervened (invaded, whatever) in Iraq.

* Do you really think that only Turks, Saudis, and Iranians (as foreign powers) are capable of pouring their hatred? Do you think that US and UK are not foreigners?

Pappusrif
To follow

pappusrif said...

Here is the rest:
* You are worried about the impact of a withdrawal of ALLIED (let’s say US and UK) troops from Iraq. Unfortunately, the question is not about withdrawal. Quite simply, there will be no withdrawal (from the region). Thus the question does not arise.

* There is a mess over there and to the best of my knowledge, Iraq was quite stable before the US “intervention”. Of course that was to find WMD and to offer democracy for free to “barbarians” (!?).
I think that the more we will advance and the more we will discover many lies and horrors. Dishonesty of Bush government, perfectly shown, tag definitively this war. The ideology of the American neocons is settling in Europe and they are pushing for the idea that the exit of crisis for Iraq will be done via Iran. I mean using force in case economic sanctions cannot force Iran to lower their flag. Believing these brave men, after Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington should not hesitate to launch another conflict. The war never arrives by chance. It is the result of a “desired” planed process. The US have in the Gulf sufficient war stuff to attack Iran. We are not idiots at the point of saying that they are there by chance.
There is also the idea of the automatism of the crisis and the attack. Dan Plesch (In New Statesman of February 16) reported that according to British military sources, a possible operation against Iran suits a very elaborate plan. US forces are gathered in a strategic position of attack vis-a-vis Iran (in the Gulf), it becomes inconceivable not to make use of it. In a sense, they are creating a situation of obligation of attack, by the simple sequence of the provision of the forces on the spot. And I am not certain that the American Congress will prevent this unfolding. Of course, that does not mean that they will win, but they will not lose for sure.

So my point is not to ask about withdrawal, impact or not. It is about the next step of escalation.

Cordially,

pappusrif

Gracchi said...

Pappusrif I agree with many of your points- let me put it like this, I don't beleive the invasion was either just or neccessary- I'm not sure but sometimes wonder if there are adequate grounds to impeach George Bush.

However we are now where we are. Withdrawing seems to me to be an option that lots of people both in the Uk and US are floating and it has advantages. We have been useless out there and there is the argument that say in the Shia south we are actually the cause of violence not the stoppers of it.

I do think that the UK and US are foreigners in Iraq and your point is just. I'm worried less about foreign occupation- than about nasty wars though I suppose you are right to argue that what we are engaged in might be classed as an unpleasant war. I suppose it depends partly on how you view say an Iranian Saudi occupation and it might you are right be better than a UK US one- but they might also clash in terms of their forces. I think in the north that the Turks would definitely behave worse to the Kurds than we are behaving at the moment- just look at the Turkish Eastern provinces for evidence.

Bush invading Iran is an idiotic idea. I'm personally as you know- I don't know if you read my post on the surge very sceptical about the Bush plans- its just that I'm fearful of withdrawing. It might be the best option but it always seems to me that in Iraq we face a choice of awful options- and that's really what I was trying to point out- that even what looks like a good option has disadvantages to it.

Gracchi said...

Oh and Pappusrif thank you for your complement- I'm sure if you did have a blog it would make me think- and from your comments I think you don't have any problems with English

pappusrif said...

Thanks gracchi for the quick reply.
I am not supporting saudi/turkish/Iran occupation (Invasion) of Iraq. I even think that It would be worse (for Iraq and the region). You are right, It is unpleasant war, but what war is pleaseant ?
I got your point about withdrawal, but I am not able to choose which solution is best. As you said, all options have disadvantages.
pappusrif