Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Definition of Insanity: Iraq

I try not to get political on this blog. My other blog is about my writing career. This blog is about other aspects of my life: my activities, ideas, and opinions. Yet, I try to leave politics and controversial current events out of it. But I feel that I have to weigh in on the current situation in Iraq.

An al Qaeda offshoot, a Sunni Moslem group, is undertaking military-style operations in Iraq, working their way down from the north of the country toward Baghdad, conquering towns and cities and territory. Reports are that the Iraqi army, which is an arm of the current Shiite majority government, is laying down its arms, ditching its weapons, and going home—not putting up a fight at all. I'm at the point where I don't know that I want to believe news reports. But assuming this is true, the pundits are saying that the USA needs to step in and stop this insurgency from taking over Iraq.

I can't help but think back over Iraqi history. The modern nation of Iraq was formed around 1922, when British and French leaders, in the aftermath of World War 1, carved up the Middle East into modern style nation states without much consideration of ethnic, racial, national, or political considerations. I think the Iraq and Iran borders were formed mainly based on oil interests. They did the same thing in Europe, if you remember. World War 2 was fought in part because of those decisions. The civil war in Yugoslavia and the action in Kosovo were also to rectify some of those decisions. It has taken a little longer for the Arabs and Persians and other nationalities in the Middle East to seek to rectify things.

Iraq was a hodgepodge of ethnic/religious groups. Kurds in the northeast, Sunnis in the west, Shiites in the east, marsh Arabs in the south who actually belonged to none of the above. The Shiites were in the majority. Yet, it was the Sunni dominated Baathist party who took control of Iraq in the 1960s (I think; or was it the 50s?). Sadam Hussein came to power as a Baathist in 1979, and in 1980 plunged Iraq into war with Iran. Since then, Iraq has been constantly at war, with a year here and there of peace. That's 34 years of warfare. Sadam was deposed. Immediately the pressure to break up the nation began. Kurds wanted their own state. Shiites wanted their majority to be in control. Sunnis were afraid that after their 30 or more years of oppressive minority control that they would be dealt out of the new government, or worse, executed (religiously cleansed) by the Shiites.

The problem with an independent Kurdistan is that much of eastern Turkey is majority Kurds, as is northwest Iran. If you carve Kurdistan out of Iraq, how long before you have civil wars in the other two countries? Yes, in 1922 there should have been an independent Kurdistan formed, yet another mistake of the British and French idiots who thought they knew better than the rest of the world.

In Iraq, the Shiites won elections and formed the government, but included in it the Sunnis and Kurds. Once the USA pulled the last of its troops out, the Shiites removed the Sunnis and Kurds from the government. Now the Sunnis, working through this ISIS group, are trying to take control by conquest where they have failed by the ballot. And now people want the USA to stop the ISIS conquest. So far the president has put a few hundred military "advisors" into the country. Maybe they're truly advising, or maybe they're protecting the US embassy. But supposedly he's thinking about other options, including drones and manned air strikes. After that carnage takes place, who knows what else? For some reason, this sounds a lot like the US sending military advisors to South Vietnam. Heck, forget Vietnam; it sounds a lot like our previous excursions into Iraq.

We went to war with Iraq in 1990 to liberate Kuwait, and we did so. We kept Iraq under tight control for the next 11 years. We went to war with Iraq in 2003 over possibly skewed intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction. We deposed Sadam Hussein, helped the Iraqis form a democracy, helped to stabilize the country, and split. Now, a mere three years after we left, the religious groups in the country are at each others' throats again. Surprise surprise.

It's been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. 1990. 2003. 2014. Do you see a pattern? You might say each time is slightly different conditions, and that's true. But it's the same nation (that never should have been), the same people, the same religion(s), the same western country interjecting themselves into the affairs of that country. And we expect a different result? No, there won't be a different result. We will kick ISIS out. We will have to stabilize Iraq all over again with a multi-year military occupation combined with a huge humanitarian aid package. Then we'll leave and three years after we do the majority will again deal the minorities out of the government, oppress them economically, and they will again be engaged in a civil war. The very definition of insanity.

America, stay out of Iraq! Whatever our interests are there, or perceived interests, we cannot achieve them. Get out now. Stay out. No planes, no people, no aid. Stop the insanity.

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