More Iraq Screw-Ups

Bush’s incompetence would be hilarious if it wasn’t so dangerous.

The latest terrible decision revolve around the Kurds, the “Other Iraq,” the independence of which is one of the greatest successes of the Iraq War. President Bush and his dangerous, deluded advisors are doing their best to destroy that success too.

George Bush was the right man in the 2004 election because of his two picks for the Supreme Court, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Foreign policy wise, it is now clear that John Kerry would have been a better pick. For that matter, nearly anyone would have been a better pick.

An immediate (by the end of February) withdrawal from Iraq would be better than the current policy. An immediate (by the end of February) attack on Iran would be better than the current policy. Bush’s current policy of attacking our friends and appeasing our enemies is one of the the worst policies imaginable. Bush, after winning the Iraq War, is doing all he can to lose it.

6 thoughts on “More Iraq Screw-Ups”

  1. I can't even begin to imagine a more back assward initiative. Straight up, fucking well preposterous. Not only has this administration completely shit the bed in terms of their initial strategic goal but now they're alienating the one positive aspect of their misadventure? You can't make this tripe up. Unbelievable.

    Apologies for my… indelicate language.

  2. Dan,

    I'm surprised. Typically you don't treat Iraq like it exists in a vacuum. You don't typically dismiss incrementalism out of hand.

    What would some type of Kurdish autonomy, given that they always turn a blind eye to whatever the PKK does, result in? Who's that big nation, with its military holding back the Islamist population that's appoplectic with rage to attack the Kurds, to the north? that HAS to be included in any considerations. Making an even federally part of Iraq autonomous Kurdish state has problems. Has nothing to do with 'abandoning' anyone, but trying not to , as Barnett would say, fight everyone in the room just 'cause we feel like it.
    INcremental may not salve the moral hurt, but it gets us where we need to go.

    Invading Iran? Dude, you really need to talk to the Armorer over at Argghhh!. He's hella connected, being a beltway bandit and ex-Army himself. That option is rather problematic. We may want to rething saying that its better than continued, as that's all it is, a continuation, of 'Vietnamization' in Iraq.

  3. Wow! Great feedback already. Thanks guys!

    Ry,

    I'm glad that you're a long-term reader of tdaxp 🙂

    I am not dismissing incrementalism out of hand — I am opposing a roll-back of everything good we have accomplished since 1991 out of hand. “Some type of Kurdish autonomy” — that is, de facto Kurdish autonomy — has existed since the end of the Gulf War.

    I agree we shouldn't fight everyone in the room just 'cause we feel like it — but, sadly, that appears to be Rice's strategy. A sane strategy pits us against our enemies (al Baath and al Qaeda) and with those who wish to defeat our enemies. The Bush-Rice plans pits us against our potential friends (the Kurds, the Shia, etc) in an attempt to appease — to literally buy-off — our enemies.

    I don't think attack Iran is a good idea. It would be a bad idea. Iran is better as a friend than an enemy. But the current Bush policy is so terrible that invading Iran would at least give it intellectual coherence.

    ElamBend,

    What's tragic is that “abandoning” our allied populations woudl be better for them than this, because those allies are able to stand-up on our own. What we are doing is similar to the dying days of Vietnam, where we actively betrayed and undermined the RVN government in a fit of liberal establishmentism.

    Subadei,

    I think we agree 🙂

  4. I may have misunderstood you a bit then, Dan.

    I'm not one to say 'reconciliation and a political pathyway are the only ways forward', but they do have a place in this. At some point the enemy has to have a reason and the means to stop being beliegerent(riffing on BH Liddel-Hart here).

    True, semi-autonomy has existed for the Kurds for 15 years, and a rather high tension exists between the Turks and the US/Kurdish state because of that. Remember that the Turks stood up a few brigades last year on their border with the Kurdish region. THose boys are serious.

    It's a real damned if you do and damned if you don't situation. Maybe Turkey could be brought to accept it. Maybe we could make the Kurds real aware that further support and blind eye turning to the PKK could cost them US support with Turkish reprisals then being almost certain. If that could be done it'd work. Given how the Kurds reacted last week to the Iranian captures though? This is nasty.

  5. Ry,

    I remember exactly how serious the Turks are — when they joined the Gulf War coalition and when, a decade later, they allowed us to send in troops from the north, rapidly mopping up the Baathist resistance.

    Wait — neither of those happened.

    I do remember Turkish forces getting themselves arrested pretty early in the post-war, and I remember the Turks engaging in the sort of idiotic repression — banning letters of the alphabet — that shows strategic-level incompetence.

    Turkety, a second-rate democracy and a second-rate ally, has a second-rate military and a second-rate ability to project power.

    Considering how “US support” seems to involve seizing diplomats to Kurdisan and declaring that Kurds have no right to their own oil, it's increasingly hard to see how benign neglect would be hurtful for Kurdistan.

  6. “Turkety, a second-rate democracy and a second-rate ally, has a second-rate military and a second-rate ability to project power.”
    That they are. Much like Pakistan in both, well, a little better than Pakistan, in all.
    In a Leviathan conflict against the US it's wheat against the scythe. But it wouldn't be that.

    Wait, we're talking past each other with opposing scenarios again. Let me start over.

    Okay, so, the plan seems to be that we split up Iraq into three quasi autonomous states and then in the near term leave. The Iranians and Turks are not friends. But they both hate the Kurds(the Kurdish Iranians aren't real happy about how they're treated either). What deviousness can the do? The blatantly conventional and the unconventional. Kurdish power would be dependent somewhat on the oil revenue—they're landlocked so they have to pipe it and aren't liekly to be a trade hub.

    JRobb's shown us how vulnerable that is—-the system disruption business he highlights with Nigeria/Africa adventures.

    Basically, if Turkey and Iran aren't happy you can bet they're going to do their level best to screw the states they don't like. This isn't out of love of Turkey—who is only democratic because the military restrains the populace of late—but trying to anticipate a problem. If any one of the three new states/provinces falls into chaos what happens to the rest? Kurdistan(for lack of a less appropriate term) is not homogeneous. That's a problem.

    I'm not saying we can't do anything here. Just that turning it into a Kurdish state, with internal dissent already in play and likely to be stoked from the outside, enemies on at least 3 out of 4(5?) its neighbors(the Sunni Iraqi state, Iran, and Turkey, not sure if Jordan shares a border and unsure of Syrian relations with the Kurds) this seems less than optimal. Best to give, in the short term, the enemy(the belligerent Shia and Sunni) something to quite down and get the economy going and a growing sense of national unity(fat chance of the latter, I know). Give them a way to put down their arms and a good reason to(money, a bit of power, and safer work than civil war) and they just might quit. Enough of them at least. Those that don't at this point die ingloriously and in vast numbers.
    It shafts the Kurds, and yet doesn't because they also gain much from a non-shattered Iraq. Hard sell. And also not without sticking points(Kurds go ballistic over being sold out and start guerilla campaigns with and without Iraq, for instance).

    I wouldn't say that 'diplomats' that are suspected of being Qud 'advisors' is such a good thing. Why not be transparent about it if you're Kurdistan and doing something smart like developing relations with one of your neighbors? Well, it get's nasty, right? Things are interconnected and allowing that from the US causes all kinds of domestice hell. It's complicated, but understandable. If done out in the open we, the US, could grumble but secretly support or caution against it. secretly? Well, that makes the Kurds kinda shifty allies, don't it? Sure, it's in their best interest, but why be sneaky?

    THe oil? It does seem to be the Dane Geld solution. But is it? They're going to have to ship the petroleum somewhere and somehow. Most of it goes south east, yes? They can either face a Sunni state, in a peaceful scenario that we don't have yet, that refuses to allow it come across without a fee(a steep one likely since they have little else to make money with, except maybe tourism to Babylon) or they can just accept a revenue sharing plan that's likely a bit cheaper. And of course, once peace hits the Sunni insurgents/terrorists lose the help of the general populace because there is incentive to have a functioning gov't(money!).
    It sucks. It is not morally satisfying. Not one bit. But it does gt things going in the right direction.

    Benign negliect? Well, that doesn't get us to the same point.

    Oh, and I'm just crazy—unlike you, so my rubric is “WTF is he drinking to write such crap now?'(answer: Code Red.). I'm definitely not in you or Mark's league. IF we were to figure this as to which John Cusak character you and Mark are the Cusak of Grosse Point Blank then I'm Cusak of High Fidelity or 16 Candles.

  7. Ry,

    Thank you for your comments. They are forcing me to understand my own position. What you write is extremely valuable, and I keep looking forward to what you have to say next. 🙂

    “The Iranians and Turks are not friends. But they both hate the Kurds(the Kurdish Iranians aren't real happy about how they're treated either)”

    The Iranians have a much better relationships with the Kurds than any other state in the region, except Israel. The Kurds have been fighting insurgencies in three states — Syria, Turkey, and Iraq — but not in Iran. Whlie Kurdistan's neighbors tend to fall into ethnocentricism, Iran has managed its minorities and neighbors well. For instance, Iran is an ally with Christian Armenia against Muslim Azerbaijan, while having many high-ranking Azeris (including the Grand Ayatollah Khatamei) in her government). Further, Kurdstian's flag [1] is based on Iran's [2]. The PUK and KDP are clients of Iran just as SCIRI and Dawa are.

    “Kurdish power would be dependent somewhat on the oil revenue—“

    While Kurdish ability to provide a welfare state for its citizens depends on oil revenue, they have shown through their historic resistance to Ankara and Baghdad that their ability to fight does not.

    “Best to give, in the short term, the enemy(the belligerent Shia and Sunni) “

    This may be well I morally part ways. I understand how a population which began the insurgency, as well as terrirized its own neighbors, as well as fought us in two contentional wars, may be considered “the enemy.” I do not understand how a democratic majority should be “the enemy” in its own country.

    “Why not be transparent about it if you're Kurdistan and doing something smart like developing relations with one of your neighbors?”

    This is another of the tragedies of American geopolitics — we give our enemy every benefit of the doubt (talking about shafting the Kurds to bribe the Sunnis), but hold our allies to a standard we ourselves cannot reach. It's a formula that guarantees failure.

    “They can either face a Sunni state, in a peaceful scenario that we don't have yet, that refuses to allow it come across without a fee(a steep one likely since they have little else to make money with, except maybe tourism to Babylon) or they can just accept a revenue sharing plan that's likely a bit cheaper.”

    The obvious outlets for Kurdish oil are through Turkey, Iran, Shia Iraq, Anbar province and then Saudi Arabia, or Syria. The only one that involves Sunni Iraq is the least rational, as it involves building through an ongoing insurgency and then still has to go through Saudi Arabia.

    The Kurds and Shia have cooperated to form a government so far, and it seems reasonable that they will cooperate on oil in the same way. There is no reason to involve the Sunni Arabs at this point other than to reward them for terrorism. Or to try to appease them.

    “And of course, once peace hits the Sunni insurgents/terrorists lose the help of the general populace because there is incentive to have a functioning gov't(money!).”

    I think you may be underestimating the titanic shift that Bush caused in Iraq.

    Iraq is the first Shia Arab state in modern history.
    Iraq is the first Sunni Arab state to be lost in modern history.

    The Iraqi Sunni Arab population, for generations, has been operating from the excess capital of the Shia and Kurds. No reasonable split can support them in the lifestyle they are used to. We see in South Africa, with its soft ethnic cleansing, their best case scenarior if there had never been a resistance and if they had embraced defeat when the American military came into town. We see in Ostland [3] a more likely future.

    Erick,

    Glad we agree 🙂

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraqi_Kurdistan
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Iran
    [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichskommissariat_Ostland#German_settlement

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