Nothing good has ever come out of our interference in the Middle East. Backing Israel has made us the enemy of everyone in the region. Backing the Shah of Iran fed the growth of opposition to the west and led inexorably to the extreme theocratic state of the Ayatollahs. Propping up a succession of dictators in Egypt hasn’t done us, or the Egyptians, much good. Helping to down Ghadaffi and trying to pull down Assad made a bad situation worse.
And all for a commodity that is coming to an end, that we will soon no longer need. It’s time to stop wasting money and lives on the Middle East and turn to the future.
The current flap is over Iraq. Can we ignore the mess we’ve made there? Actually, there really isn’t anything else useful we CAN do. Look at the record to date.
Saddam Hussein was a nasty piece of work, no doubt. But no worse than many another we have courted and fed over the years, but he overplayed his hand in Kuwait and the mishandled response to that has led us to where we are today.
Bush the First went after Saddam, defeated him easily, and chased him all the way back to his own borders. And stopped. Saddam could easily have been swept from power then and there, but for whatever reason, we stopped at the border. Bush ignored the first and most important rule of war: if you must you go to war, the overriding object is to defeat the enemy. Completely. Never leave a wounded, humiliated enemy in a position to regroup and rebuild.
Which is what Bush did. Because we don’t really do war any more. It’s ‘conflict’. There are many reasons for this, not least the little technicality that US Presidents can’t declare war without Congress backing. But the main cause is our squeamishness. We want the results of war, but we don’t want to pay the price. We don’t want the dead and the wounded paraded across our TV screens, it’s not a good look.
And so we have ‘conflict’. We have ‘limited war’. We have – most laughable concept of all – ‘armed peacekeeping.’ We’ve tried to give war a make-over and turn it into something nice. It isn’t. It’s organised mass murder. And service members are state-trained mass murderers. For a good cause, of course. But let’s not kid ourselves.
I say again, the object of war is to defeat the enemy. If you don’t like the consequences of waging war (and I don’t), then don’t call for it, and don’t do it. But if you’re going to do it, do it thoroughly, without flinching.
Bush 1 flinched.
Which led us directly to Bush 2. His administration fabricated ‘evidence’ that Saddam had ‘weapons of mass destruction’. Handy, non-specific phrase, that. Could cover all sorts of things. Anyway, he didn’t really have them, and they knew he didn’t. Nor was Iraq an Al Qaeda stronghold – Saddam wouldn’t tolerate rivalry on his patch. Nor was there the slightest connection with 9/11, which was also known. If Bush 2 wanted to punish a Middle Eastern state for creating 9/11, he should have bombed Saudi Arabia, home of extreme islam, Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and most of the terrorists involved.
Bush 1 endured years of taunts for failing to finish Saddam off. Bush 2 went after Iraq to get his Daddy’s balls back. 9/11 gave him the excuse. But, like his father, he couldn’t do a proper job. He and his advisers believed all they had to do was bomb Saddam into submission, and ordinary Iraqi’s would rush to kiss their feet, embrace the invader and their totally alien, secular way of life, and happily set about building a New Washington in the desert under the direction of their saviours. Naturally it didn’t quite work out that way.
Instead of facilitating a government of all sides, which might just have had a chance of functioning, the US hung about, trying to bolster the guys they liked and fight the ones they didn’t. And the longer they stayed, and the worse they behaved, the more went over to the side opposing them. It didn’t help that Iraq was already a state riven by sectarianism.
Iraq is divided between two brands of islam, Sunni and Shia. Nominally secular, the government of Saddam was dominated by Sunnis, but the bulk of the population are Shia. When Saddam ruled, he cruelly kept them down. On the other hand, current Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, raised up by the US, is Shia. Despite the US’s urging, he has refused to share power with Sunnis. America pulled the plug, walked away, and told the Iraqis to sort it out amongst themselves. Which they are now doing. The Sunni ‘terrorists’ of ISIL are now on the march to Baghdad.
We should leave the Iraqis to get on with it.
To all those who fear that the current ‘conflict’ will lead to the creation of a jihadi state that will go on to wage war on the west, well, let’s hope not, but we’ll cross that bridge if and when we get to it. The one way to make sure we do get to such a pass, uniting all Iraqis against us and bringing that jihadi state into being is to give all Iraqis an external enemy.
That’s what ISIL wants. That’s why they are taunting us with pictures of their atrocities. We send in the bombers and the troops, and they can wave the patriotic flag, invite their Muslim brothers to forget their differences, and join in fighting the Infidel.
The USA, Britain and Australia should stand aside and let them fight each other instead of us. Don’t pick sides, don’t provide air cover or weapons, or even food. Going back and interfering will only prolong the agony and make it worse. Learn the lesson and stay the hell out of it. Out or Iraq, out of Syria, out of Iran and yes, out of Egypt and Israel too.
Forget the oil. We have paid enough for it down the years, in cash and in lives, propping up vile medieval regimes and blood-sodden tyrants, ossifying backward authoritarian regimes. The oil is almost gone anyway. Time to face reality. Now is the time to pour investment into renewables, as much and as fast as we can. Time to turn our backs on the past and start truly working for the future.