Reflections on the War in Iraq - OK Part V: Some Final, Final Thoughts [112e]
I THOUGHT I WAS DONE with my thoughts regarding Iraq, I suppose I never will be, just like I never will be for Vietnam, but, some listener questions on a C-Span call-in I heard this morning (December 25, 2011) got me going again. They tied in with hub comments to Parts II or III, I think, regarding Iran and it had to do with weather our actions drove Iraq closer to Iran or not.
It is an extremely important question. On the face of it, one would think, yes, it did; the Shi'a are are the majority in each country, the radical cleric Muqtadir Sadr has strong ties with Iran and receives succur from them. But, when you look deeper, I think the answer is no.
It is my opinion that, over time, Iraq and Iran may become at best rivals and, at worst, enemies again. There are a couple of things that drive me to this. While granted, both are Shi'a, one is Arab and the other is Persian; there is a long, long history of the Persians dominating, sometimes violently, the Arabs to their West. Next, even though Iraq is a new nation, circa 1954, or thereabouts, it is nevertheless very nationalistic, as most nations are.
Nationalism is a very strange idea indeed. It is one of the three freedoms or liberties, the other two being individual liberity and political liberty. Thoughout all of recorded history you can find many examples of a people willingly giving up either their individual or their political or both freedoms in order to maintain national freedom. Now, that may seem very odd to Americans, but it is true, nevertheless. On the other hand, there are very few examples of a people giving up their national freedom in order to protect their individual and/or political liberties; the Jews of the Middle East during Herod's time come to mind as a case in point.
To me, this means if Iran tries to exert its considerable influence of Iraq, it will drive them into our camp and not into theirs.
Another "What Might Have Been"
ANOTHER CALLER raised the question about whether the people of Iraq were better off. In answer, the expert on the show raised a point I should have thought of. While I did mention that Hussein probably would have had his sadistic reign of terror curtailed to some degree, the caller suggested that the Shi'as were getting very restless. With the clamp down we had on the activities of Saddam's military, especially his air power, the probability of an internal revolt seemed quite high once they saw the successes in Tunisia and Egypt and especially Libya.
In hindsight, one would have to think Saddam might have been overthrown internally with very little involvement from American and coalition forces.
Born From the Ashes Of The Iraq War
ISIS, ISIL, IS, ISLAMIC STATE, CALIPHATE, OR DA'ISH, take your pick of these or several others; they all boil down to one name "terrorists" of the worst kind this world has seen since Stalin and Hitler. There leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a very smart, technologically savvy, charismatic, murderer of the first degree who was capable of building a modern corporate-style terrorist organization masking as a Sunni religious sect taking advantage of the vacuum left after the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and the stupidity of the Shai'a government that remained.
DA'ISH seems to be the preferred word Muslims wish to be used to name these Nazi's of the Islam world, so I will use that. Da'ish is what is left over from an internal struggle within al Qaeda in Iraq; in fact, they have been disowned by the main al Qaeda organization as being too radical. America's foreign policy has a hand, albeit a small one in my opinion, in the resurgence of Da'ish in the choices it made in how to support the resistance to Syrian government. Those choices, timidity by my standards, led to the kind of environment that was fertile ground for groups like Da'ish to fester and multiply in. The major factor, however, were the Shai'as in Iraq, specifically the Iraqi government who refused to make an inclusive organization, but instead froze the Sunnis out and nearly did the same to the Kurds. Having done so, the Sunnis were ripe for the entreaties of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Further, the Maliki administration was corrupt and frittered away the fairly well trained and very well equipped Army which America left them to cronyism, nepotism, and virtual exclusion of Sunni membership. So when it came to protecting Sunni territory, the Shai'a soldiers turned tail and ran away from the Da'ish, giving up control of over half their nation in the process. It's not that they didn't have good reason, of course, for those that were captured were, shot, beheaded, and crucified by the Da'ish when caught.
In any case, the Da'ish stayed below the radar while building their organization, which was easy to do given all of the other things keeping the world's attention diverted. What made Da.sh different from their predecessor was their tech. business, and social media savvy. They also had safe training grounds in Syria to get their Army ready. When they unleashed it into Iraq, after having tested it successfully in Syria, in early 2014, it rolled over the Iraqi Army surprising the world in the process.
It took strong-arm pressure from the U.S. to get al Malali not to hang on to power in Iraq and have a hopefully pro unification leader elected as well as stronger-arm tactics with allies, both European and Arab, to "encourage" them to form a coalition to confront Da'ish and stop their forward movement, then ultimately defeat them. The reason for the coalition, of course, was America was not going to do it alone this time; as we shouldn't have the first time; in fact, we should have never been there the first time.
At the moment, there are initiatives aimed at training Western-oriented Syrian resistance forces, coalition air strikes in coordination with Kurdish Peshmerga and some Iraqi Army units who have courage to hold off Da'ish attacks and in minor cases, regain territory. Things won't tip in the Allies favor though until the Iraqi Army can be fielded again as an effected fighting force which means the Sunni's will need to be integrated into its leadership structure as well as its governmental structure.