As the Sunni militants close in on the capital of Iraq, this headline: Iraqi General Insists Baghdad is Safe From Insurgents — that’s from the New York Times (not the Times itself claiming that). Is Baghdad Bob back? The guy who made a fool out of himself saying the forces of Saddam Hussein were prevailing against the U.S. even as they were obviously crumbling. Now the tables seem to be turned and the government we reluctantly back is in danger of being ousted by Islamic terrorists. Reports differ. Some say there is an indication the government is beginning to hold its own — but up to now the security forces we trained have just thrown down their weapons and ran away.
It might just be time that the United States stepped back and took another look at why it got involved in the Middle East in the first place.
I mean let’s be honest. We did not go in there to free people from ruthless dictators. We did not go in there with the specific or primary intent of making their lives better, although certainly we would want that.
We went in there originally to keep our oil supply chain open (the first Gulf War). Anything positive besides that, such as creating freer societies and more equal economic opportunity for all, were just side benefits.
I recall during the first Iraq War or maybe the second a young person I know (who I will not name) looked at me seriously when I made the remark while filling my gas tank of my car that this is what our soldiers were dying for. This young person questioned what I meant by that. The indoctrination via our own government/political propaganda plus the accepted narrative from the main stream media was that we were going in there to save people from the ruthless dictator Saddam Hussein and to keep Al Qaeda from bringing its war to America and other parts of the free world.
(9/11 played into this all, but certainly we did not wage all the wars to go after one man, Osama Bin Laden and a band of terrorists, and the first Gulf War was before 9/11 course, and 9/11 did not come out of Iraq, even though in reaction to it we went to war with Iraq — you know, how is this all going to be taught in history? It makes no sense.)
But oil is what is was always about. Well that and the ongoing and age-old struggle between Eastern and Western cultures, perhaps.
Make no mistake about it, there are elements in the societies of that part of the world who would rather more closely emulate what we have in the West, although they would likely want to do so while retaining much of their own culture.
Unfortunately religion and tribal rivalries seem to be the dividing factor in these societies. Its bad enough that Muslims often hate Christians or Jews or others who are not of their religion, but they can’t even get along with each other, being divided in various sects (and I admittedly don’t understand all of that, except they don’t get along). In Iraq the division between Sunni and Shia seems to cause the most strife (and that is a fact elsewhere too). When Saddam Hussein was in charge the Sunni minority controlled things. And now under the present leader, Nuri al-Maliki, the reverse is true. It seems to not have occurred to these people that religion should be kept out of government, just as it has not occurred to some in our own country, now that I think about it.
Of course those hungry for power exploit ignorance and do their best to maintain ignorance in order to set people against each other and in the meantime gather all the goodies from society themselves (the way of the world, really).
But back to why we are there.
It was primarily oil all the time.
Well as I understand it the United States is now energy independent. We are willing to put up with the possible ill effects of fracking and oil train wrecks and potential environmental problems caused by the proposed Keystone pipeline to be energy independent.
(A government report claims that the pipeline would cut down on the potential of oil train wrecks.)
So why are we fighting wars in the Middle East?
Yes, Islamic terrorists probably do pose a threat to the whole world, but they are going to have a hard time financing themselves without oil to hold us hostage over.
We can and must defend ourselves, but maybe getting sucked into no-win wars in the Middle East is not the answer.
And anyway, like I repeat like a stuck record, the only justified war can be one that is fought to win.
It’s shameful how we send people to die and people to be maimed for life in causes we can’t seem to get fully committed to.
If it is deemed we have to go back to Iraq, it better be to win. And what is winning? Winning is vanquishing the enemy and taking control of the area ourselves for a time and gradually turning it back to those who live there once they can learn to govern themselves.
If all that is not possible, well so be it. Forget it. We can now do without their precious oil.
If they are willing to kill each other over religion I’m sorry for that, just leave us out of it.
I don’t minimize the threat of so-called Islamic terrorism on the whole world. The latest seems to be that a group calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) now poses a more serious threat than Al Qaeda, the latter group now parting ways from it, supposedly because the former is too ruthless. But I think a strong and prosperous Western society not bogged down in costly no-win wars over oil will be better able to protect itself.
Adding to the confusion, Iran sees ISIS as a threat and backs the current Iraqi government. I just read that Maliki might use the threat of Iran, our arch enemy, coming to his aid as a wedge to get U.S. help to save him. Oh what a tangled web…