Friday, March 02, 2007

Between Iraq and a hard place - Why we went, how it got so screwed up and where it's going , Part 1

It was only a few years ago, in the aftermath of 9/11 that Americans were a united country. The war in Iraq changed all that, and completely polarized the American people. And it has called into question our entire effort in the War on Jihad.

How did Iraq get so screwed up? And what lessons can we learn from it for the future?

To begin to understand, we need to look at why we went there in the first place. And I can almost guarantee that most of you won't like it.

Post 9/11 Iraq was only one of a number of Muslim nations sponsoring and harboring Islamic terrorists, and by no means the biggest threat to the US. So why was Iraq a priority?

To answer that, you have to ask yourself who a resurgent Iraq was a major threat to, and the answer is obvious - Saudi Arabia and the oil producing Sunni autocracies on the Persian Gulf President Bush and his family are so close to.

The Angry Left will never ever acknowledge it, but the fact is that Saddam was using the profits from the oil for food scam to rebuild his military, and as his own scientists and generals have stated numerous times, the knowledge and some of the materials needed to jumpstart a nuclear weapons program were already in place. One of Saddam's chief scientists admitted in the New York Times, no less, that a nuclear weapons program could have been up and running in as little as six months.

As a matter of fact, thanks to the Bush Administration's bumbling 19 month run up to war, we'll never know exactly what Saddam had or what he may have hidden, sold or otherwise disposed of. There's ample evidence that materials may have been sent to Syria, for example.

Regardless, the intelligence pointed towards an Iraqi threat to President Bush's Saudi friends. I'm certain they voiced their concern, applied the usual leverage and President Bush responded accordingly. And Saddam's attempt to kill Bush Sr. a few years prior probably affected the decision as well.

One of the little ironies of this whole mess is the insistence of some people that Iraq was a `war for Israel' - when it was really a war for the Saudis!

After the US invasion, the Saudis no doubt figured that we would handle things the way they would have handled them in a similar situation...find some Sunni strongman to build a `government' around, keep the oil flowing and preserve the status quo, while using Iraq as a base against Shiite Iran and Syria. As a matter of fact, that's what I expected we were doing there, since invading Iraq didn't make any sense otherwise.

Instead, President Bush did something neither the Saudis or anyone else expected. He completely dismantled the Sunni-dominated security forces, and began pouring millions of dollars into Iraq for nation building, with the idea that Iraq was going to become some kind of model for `Arab democracy.' This involved spending American money like water, handcuffing our military with rules of engagement geared towards `winning hearts and minds' and empowering the Shiites in Iraq, something the Saudis had never counted on.

President Bush pushed Iraq into elections after less than two years in an effort to deflect critics who claimed it was just an imperialist junket...and let anyone who wanted run in them, including Shiite politicians with an axe to grind who had spent the Saddam years cuddled up with our enemies in Iran.

Of course, Iraq voted along tribal lines rather than any highfalutin' notions of `Arab Democracy', and those Shiite politicians won handily. They immediately began taking over the government, the military and the security forces and ethnically cleansing and `concentrating' the Sunnis by use of the Iran funded and trained militias like the Badr Force and Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. In a real sense, al-Sadr(and thus, Iran) actually exercised control over the Iraqi government through its sponsorship of politicians like Jafaari and the current Prime Minister, al-Maliki.

The Saudis and the other Sunni autocrats were absolutely appalled.They accused us, with some justification, of turning the country over to Iran. The last thing they wanted was to promote the idea of Shiite empowerment..especially since the Saudis have their own little known Shiite underclass that just happens to inhabit the oil rich areas along the Persian Gulf that the Saudis and their wahabi Sunni allies invaded and conquered(al-Hasa province) just before WWI.

The way they saw it, the Bush Administration had eliminated the only army capable of containing Iran —the Iraqi Army—and the Saudis and the other Sunni Gulf Kingdoms were left dealing with an Iran that could be nuclear-capable and has a standing army of four hundred and fifty thousand soldiers. (The Saudis have an army of seventy-five thousand troops.)

Meanwhile, the ethnic cleansing and concentration of Sunnis in Iraq continued, with the aid of the new Shiite `security forces; we trained at such great expense and the help of the Iranian proxy Shiite militias....which of course added fuel to the fire of what could have been a containable insurgency and led to the inevitable push back,with our troops stuck in the middle of the latest chapter of a long standing sectarian war between Shiites and Sunnis.

This left the Bush Administration waffling between carrying out Bush's fantasies about `Arab democracy' and dealing with the agenda of the Shiite government the US allowed to take power on the one hand, and trying to protect the Sunnis in Iraq to placate the Saudis on the other.

That particular high wire act became terminally unbalanced with the loss of Bush's credibility and the total erosion of that `political capital' he so famously said he was going to spend after the `06 midterm elections.

Next week, where Iraq is going and how it relates to the Middle East and the War on Jihad as a whole


Freedom Fighter said...


Anonymous said...

This is a very good analysis of the situation. It is clear and concise. I have to say it is one of the best I have read. From everything I've read on this, I generally agree. Had we invaded Iraq to protect Saudi Arabia this might have made some sense. After all Saudi Arabia is our biggest oil supplier. A government that does not work to ensure that its citizens have access to a reliable oil supply would be a negligent government. To have allowed Iraq to undermine our biggest oil suppliers would have been a dereliction of duty on the part of the US government.

I have read that the lift cost per barrel of Iraqi oil is less than the lift cost per barrell of oil in Saudi Arabia or Russia. In other words, if security could be established in Iraq, it would be less expensive to drill for Iraqi oil than it would be to drill for Saudi oil or Russian oil. The market could be flooded with Iraqi oil and, since it costs less to drill for Iraqi oil, Saudi Arabia and Russia would be unable to compete. Such a situation would undermine both countries. Since neither Saudi Arabia or Russia are friends of the United States, undermining the revenue streams of both of those countries would be a good thing. This way they would be less able to finaance anti-American activities.

The optimal situation would be an Iraqi government that is allied with the United States and opposed to Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. With that said an Iraqi government that is a Saudi puppet is not a good thing but to have an Iraqi government who is allied with Iran is even worse!!

I submit the possibility that the US and its coalition partners invaded Iraq to try and rid themselves of the need of the need for Saudi Arabia and its oil. As it stands right now, the Americans need the Saudis more than the Saudis need them. This led to a woefully one sided relationship where frankly the Saudis were becoming to demanding. Of course the Saudis would have supported the initial invasion becuase it was going to rid them of a mortal threat to their existence in the form of Saddam Hussein. In other words, all of the major players supported the ivasion of Iraq for different reasons.

The Americans might have been happy to use Saddam Hussein as a counter weight against Saudi Arabia, in much the manner they used him as a bulwhark against Iran during the 1980s but Hussein was not interested in working with the Americans. It probably was not profitable enough.

The bottom line is unless Congress opens up the 140 billion barrels of oil that is recoverable on American land and in American coastal waters for drilling we are going to need foreign oil sources. Necessity requires us to be active in the Middle East. We are going to need to be chummy with the Saudis or we will need a substitute.

We can achieve the optimal situation where Iraq is allied with us against Saudi Arabia and Iran. In order to achieve this, we will probably need to commit enough troops to establish security. If we can establish security, this will probably go a long way toward winning hearts and minds in Iraq. In other words, if we can establish security in Iraq we probably get a reliable ally out of this. Reliable allies are something we need desparately, as we are in a fight with Islamic extremists and their Communist allies for the very survival of our country.