– Memo To Washington: Iraq Is Not A Nation And You Can’t Build One There With Bombs (David Stockman’s Contra Corner, Sep 2, 2014):
Washington’s strategy in Iraq is in shambles, but not just because America’s spanker-in-chief is really a wimp at heart. The problem is far more generic. To wit, the geographic territory of Iraq is not a nation; it is an arbitrary series of lines on a map drawn 100 years ago by dandies in the foreign offices of two fading empires (the British and the French) – which lines encircled numerous tribes, ethnicities and religious confessions which had no interest in sharing a common statehood.
In the subsequent century, the warring peoples corralled within the Sykes-Picot boundaries were ram-rodded into a tenuous co-existence by a series of brutal monarchs, generals and dictators, backed up by British and American occupiers. But then the neo-con geniuses in the George W. Bush Administration hung the last dictator and the poll readers in the Obama White House had the good sense to adhere to their campaign pledge and bug out.
They left behind $25 billion in military training and state-of-the-art warfare equipment, but neither a dictator nor a nation. Indeed, under the later heading they had endeavored to build a nation where there had been none, but ended up liquidating the machinery – the Republican Guards and the Baathist political party—that had enforced co-existence with machine guns and poison gas canisters.
Foolishly claiming America’s job was done at the end of 2011 when the last GIs boarded transports out of Bagdad, Barrack Obama was actually opening the gates of hell without a clue as to the furies that would soon come swarming through. Well, they are all here now with blood soaked hands grasping their weapons and agitated tongues issuing the spittle of revenge and historic enmities.
Yet the foolish man in the White House and his historically illiterate advisors keep banging the same old failed lever. Namely, they are once again attempting to deploy bombs, dollars and hortatory commands to cajole and herd Sunni, Shiite, Kurds and numerous other sectarian and tribal fragments from the time warp of history into a common polity—-a purported nation that would do Washington’s bidding in the ancient lands of Mesopotamia.
So doing, they are attempting to mobilize the alleged Iraqi nation against the freshly minted threat of the Islamic State. But yesterday’s news about the relief of the ISIS siege on the northern town of Amirli underscores how truly senile and clueless the Washington War party has actually become.
Yes, it was American bombers who spared the 17,000 Shiite Turkmen besieged there of the horrible prospect of a Sunni conversion at the sword. Consider, however, the associated and allied forces on the ground which essentially observed and reported the flight of the ISIS fighters from the aerial onslaught.
There was the Kurdish Peshmerga army that for years occupied a high rank on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. And also on hand were various and sundry Shiite militias—–many of which have been aligned, funded or even directed from the headquarters of the Axis of Evil, the allegedly terrorist nation of Iran. Indeed, as one Sunni politician confessed to a Wall Street Journal reporter:
“We don’t really have an army. Maliki just created a sectarian army, working with militias,” said Hamid Al Mutlaq, a prominent Sunni politician. “A lot of criminals, killers and bad people were included.”
Shiite militias such as the Badr Corps, the Hizbullah Brigades, Asaib Ahl Al Haq and the Mehdi Army, have all been accused of abuses against Sunnis.
But the frosting on the cake came from Washington’s former man in charge—outgoing prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. Making his last hurrah, he showed up at Amirli praising the Shiite militia men for their heroics—-perhaps including those who only weeks earlier wiped out 70 Sunni worshippers in a nearby town—while failing to even mention the American warplanes which had actually done the job or the Peshmerga that have actually carried the fight against ISIS in the north.
As if to remind the world that there is actually no such thing as an “Iraqi army” but only the armed Shiite in Iraqi uniforms or their own militia, Maliki called this wholly transient and irrelevant relief of one tiny town among the checkerboard of vestigial religious sects which occupy the upper Tigress-Euphrates Valley “a second Karbala”. Well, no wonder the Sunni are alienated! That’s the battle of Gettysburg on steroids. Its where the 13-century long schism between the Sunni and Shiite all started.
As for the retreating ISIS warriors, never mind that their ranks were formed during the US engineered “surge” in Anbar province in 2007-2008 and the CIA training camps for Syrian rebels in Jordan during more recent months. At least the American bombers did destroy a few more American Humvees.
And that’s actually the point. American bombers can destroy the equipment left behind from the Bush occupation, but that’s about all. The second battle of Karbala! Please, can Washington possibly get a more poignant reminder that it cannot bomb or bribe an Iraqi nation into existence?
Indeed, it is time for Washington to learn to celebrate the letter “P”. It stands for partition. Let the Kurds have their nation in the northeast and make their political and economic arrangements—already well advanced–with Turkey. Let the south of Iraq congeal into a Shiite province—-loosely or otherwise affiliated with Iran, which together might form an effective barrier to the expansionary ambitions of the Islamic State.
And finally, let ISIS try to govern 8 million people in the dusty villages and impoverished desert expanse of the Euphrates Valley by means of the sword and medieval precepts of Sharia law. The resulting “blowback” from the bestirred people of the ISIS occupied lands will do more for the safety and security of the American people than all the drones and bombers that Washington could send to forge a puppet nation within borders that have already been deposited in the dustbin of history.