Streetwise Professor

November 20, 2015

Islam in Black and White: A Vicious Cycle of Counterproductive Debate

Filed under: History,Politics — The Professor @ 10:15 pm

In addition to promulgating her vacuous “strategy” for vanquishing ISIS, Hillary has been making other foreign policy news. In part to push back on a potential source of criticism, she has defended her part, and the administration’s part in pushing the “Arab Spring”, and the uprising in Libya in particular:

Well, he has a very short-term view of history, because it is not at all clear what the final outcome will be in the places that you named. As I mentioned in the speech, I spoke about the foundations of the region sinking into the sand just as the Arab Spring was breaking. And I did so not knowing about the Arab Spring coming to full bloom, but because it was so clear that what was being done by dictatorships, by the denial of opportunity, by the repression, by the sectarian divide just could not stand. It was going to explode at some point or another.

And with the developments in Libya, for example, the Libyan people have voted twice in free and fair elections for the kind of leadership they want. They have not been able to figure out how to prevent the disruptions that they are confronted with because of internal divides and because of some of the external pressures that are coming from terrorist groups and others. So it’s — I think it’s too soon to tell and I think it’s something that we have to be, you know, looking at very closely.

She’s right, actually. We don’t know what kind of hell it will end up being, or which terrorist group(s) will end up in charge of which part of the “country.” We don’t know how many people will be slaughtered.

Apropos Nancy Pelosi’s defense of Obamacare, we’ll just have to wait to see what’s in it! Oh joy.

Hillary is basically saying we can only judge on the basis of what happens in the long run. This brings to mind Keynes’s quip “in the long run, we’re all dead.” In some places, that long run arrives sooner than others. Libya being one prominent example.

The administration played Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Libya, and in the Arab Spring generally, and brought chaos and destruction in its vain attempts to control the forces it unleashed.

Hillary also made news because her doubling down on her refusal at the Democratic debate to condemn radical Islam:

The bottom line is that we are in a contest of ideas against an ideology of hate, and we have to win. Let’s be clear, though, Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people, and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. The obsession in some quarters with a clash of civilization, or repeating the specific words radical Islamic terrorism isn’t just a distraction, it gives these criminals, these murderers more standing than they deserve. It actually plays into their hands by alienating partners we need by our side.

It is quite remarkable how progressives, who adamantly support the idea that someone with a Y-chromosome can self-identify as a woman deny ISIS, etc. can self-identify as Muslim. As Orwell said, there are some ideas so stupid only an intellectual can believe. Or, in Hillary’s case, an intellectual poseur.

Not that the Republican presidential candidates, and many Congressional Republicans, are better, for they’ve veered to the opposite extreme, with Trump calling for registration of Muslims in a national database, Carson comparing refugees to rabid dogs, and indiscriminate condemnations of Muslims by many on the right.

Clinton is wrong: our adversaries–enemies, really–are avowed and chauvinistic Muslims. Those on the right are wrong: not all Muslims are a threat.

The problem is with Salafism, and in particular the virulent supremacists and eliminationist creed of Wahhabism. The wellspring of Salafism is the Gulf countries, notably Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE. From the time of the first oil shock in 1973, oil money (or gas money, in the case of Qatar) has flooded the world, and supported the spread of this uncompromising and violent creed.

The United States is by no means immune. Many mosques (not all, but too many) have been created and supported with Saudi money, and have served as outlets for Salafist proselytizing–and worse. This deserves to be the focus of criticism and pushback. (To her credit, Hillary did so the other day, even though the Clinton Foundation has accepted about $40 million in Gulf government money.)

Focused on Iran and Assad, many on the right (notably McCain, who exercises great influence over Rubio) have made common cause with Iran’s enemies in the Gulf. They have also forgotten-or chosen to ignore-the fact that the attack on the USS Cole, 911 and the vast bulk of terrorism directed against the United States had originated on the Arabian Peninsula.

Perversely, by attacking Muslims indiscriminately, too many on the right are alienating non-Salafist Muslims, and moderate non-Muslims, and driving them into the embrace of the insidious and subversive public face of the Muslim Brotherhood in the US, CAIR. Reprising its post-911 role, CAIR is again claiming to be the voice of oppressed American Muslims. This is extremely disturbing, because CAIR is very much part of the problem, but because of overreaction on the right, it can successfully pose as the victim, and represent itself as the voice of all American Muslims. The right is therefore empowering the very elements of Islam that they should be fighting.

Left and right are locked in a sick dynamic right now. Denial on the left that terrorism generally, and ISIS and Al Qaeda in particular, are an Islamic phenomenon, and that there is a civilizational clash between parts of Islam and the West is driving the right to be indiscriminate in its criticism of Islam. The right’s intemperate criticism gets the left to double down on its indiscriminate defense. And the cycle goes on and on.

In some respects I get it. Political rhetoric tends towards the black-and-white, especially when a message has to be delivered in a short time to an audience with divided attention. I also get that a lot of this rhetoric is signaling and affiliation. It is hard to articulate to a (rationally) uninformed electorate the distinctions within a religion that is almost completely alien to most Americans.

But until we do, we are going to be trapped in this vicious and unproductive cycle. And the biggest winners will be the retrograde and violent parts of Islam who do not get the focused attention-and opposition-that they richly deserve.

 

 

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19 Comments »

  1. I hesitate to be rude, but has Hitlery got much between the ears? Or is she just pretending to be stupid?

    Comment by dearieme — November 21, 2015 @ 9:16 am

  2. @dearieme-Not much at all. She is a pedestrian intellect bolted to vaulting ambition and a psychopathic lack of ethics.

    The irony: back in the 90s she was routinely referred to as “the smartest woman in the world.” I always thought this was a terrible, misogynist insult of women.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 21, 2015 @ 11:37 am

  3. Actually, Libya was a relative success. We intervened in Libya and chaos resulted. We did not intervene in Syria and chaos and a mass slaughter resulted.

    Comment by Krzys — November 21, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

  4. I don’t see why leveling, and I mean Linebacker II style bombing for weeks, wouldn’t make a modest improvement. We need to do The ME what Sherma did to Georgia and the Carlonas to teach a lesson to the inhabitants that Salafism cannot protect them or lead them anywhere but to the grave. Yes, after the battlefield prep of massive bombing, ground troops are required.

    Comment by The Pilot — November 22, 2015 @ 9:50 am

  5. without a doubt, that is one of the best, if not the best, description of Hilly Billy ever – pedestrian intellect bolted to vaulting ambition and a psychopathic lack of ethics

    although I think SNL has her down pat also, including her blind ambition, when they have her saying that she was destined to be president in her mother’s womb

    after all, she climbed Mt. Everest, and helped her father build the log cabin in which she was born

    Comment by elmer — November 22, 2015 @ 12:24 pm

  6. There are some rumors that the Russians might be planning (possibly jointly with the Iranians) a ground strike against Saudi Arabia and Qatar, cloaked as anti-ISIS, of course. I am wondering if the White House and Pentagon even consider such a contingency.

    Comment by LL — November 22, 2015 @ 8:26 pm

  7. Well, that’ll put a damper on the UAE real estate market, to say nothing about Emirates future.

    Comment by The Pilot — November 22, 2015 @ 9:49 pm

  8. @LL-Illiaronov is pushing that theory. It’s utterly implausible. Neither Iran nor Russia has the ability to get ground forces to Saudi Arabia or Qatar. And even if they could, the logistical challenges of supporting them would be insurmountable.

    The US has had contingency plans to protect KSA since at least the 1970s, under the Carter Doctrine. For years the 82nd Airborne was earmarked as a rapid reaction force to deploy to Saudi. Don’t know what the situation is now, but I am sure the Pentagon has plans for this contingency.

    BTW-the Iranians have very limited conventional military capability.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 22, 2015 @ 10:21 pm

  9. LL:

    “There are some rumors that the Russians might be planning (possibly jointly with the Iranians) a ground strike against Saudi Arabia and Qatar, cloaked as anti-ISIS, of course. I am wondering if the White House and Pentagon even consider such a contingency.”

    This is not a likely contingency as a quick look at a map of the region will quickly make apparent. Where would Russian ground forces be staged from to undertake such an invasion? From their new bases in Syria? These are hardly secure. To reach Saudi territory by the most direct route, Russian ground forces would need to advance over hundreds of kilometres of desert and hostile territory, including passage through the territory of either Jordan or Iraq. And this would only get the Russians to the Saudi border. Once across it they have additional hundreds of kilometres of desert to cover to reach the regions of Saudi Arabia that are worth occupying (i.e. oil rich Eastern Province). Qatar is even further away. Does Russia even have the airlift capacity to feed into its Syrian bases sufficient supplies to support its armies advancing south into Arabia? And even if such bases are secure does Russia have military forces capable of an advance over so much desert? I’m not certain any military in the world except that of the United States is capable of such a projection of power, and in the proposed scenario, the United States is almost certainly going to be opposing such projection.

    Or perhaps the Russians will be based in southern Iran? Given the history of Russian involvement in Iran (i.e. the Soviet occupation of half the country during the Second World War and more recently the extreme antipathy of the Islamic regime to the “lesser satan”), is it all likely that the Iranians would accept Russian troops on Iranian territory – even as part of a coalition force to invade Arabia? This would seem to be highly unlikely.

    Or the Russians could advance down the Euphrates and Tigris river basins, which would seem to be the better way to get to Arabia from Syria. However, that would mean driving right into ISIS territory and destroying that state to support lines of communication. I assume this is not part of the rumours you are hearing?

    The Iranians, themselves, are marginally better placed to invade Saudi Arabia by land but would have to first cross southern Iraq and Kuwait to get to the Saudi Eastern Province (they failed to do this in the 1980s). Their ability to launch a seaborne invasion of the Saudi Eastern Province or Qatar via the Persian Gulf is less likely – do the Iranians have the necessary sealift capacity?

    In any event, the United States could oppose and probably destroy any such invasions well short of their objectives. The US has large bases in Bahrain and Qatar and would no doubt quickly reestablish its bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (and Iraq, if necessary) in response to the commencement of any Russian or Iranian invasion. And unlike the Russians, the US does have the airlift capacity to project power into the region (as we saw in 1990 and 2003). In the absence of a complete American withdrawal from the Middle East, the thought that Russia and/or Iran would try any such military invasions is completely fantastical. The White House and Pentagon have many concerns but this surely is not one of them – not at this time or in the foreseeable future.

    This is not to downplay the strategic significance of the target area. The Saudi Eastern Province and the other Gulf countries are among the most strategically vital regions in the world to the United States. I have no doubt that if any external power (such as Russia, Iraq or Iran) attempted to invade this region or if an anti-Western regime were to seize power in, say, Riyadh and attempt to deal with the oil supply originating in eastern Arabia in ways antithetical to US interests, the US will invade and directly take control of those oil fields.

    Comment by Anthony Carlisle — November 22, 2015 @ 10:42 pm

  10. The Saudi Eastern Province and the other Gulf countries are among the most strategically vital regions in the world to the United States.

    Not just to the US, but to the whole world, particularly China, Korea, and Japan. The US doesn’t actually get any oil from the Middle East, getting its foreign supplies mainly from Nigeria and Venezuela. All the supertankers leaving the Persian Gulf head east, although the Saudi oilfields going offline would have a devastating effect on all consumers. I’ve often thought that protecting the Saudi oilfields from Saddam Hussein was the primary objective of the Iraq War, and why China quietly went along with it.

    Comment by Tim Newman — November 23, 2015 @ 9:03 am

  11. Thank you, Professor and Anthony.

    Comment by LL — November 23, 2015 @ 12:16 pm

  12. This is exactly right. I have lived in the magic kingdom of Saudi Arabia and have experienced the fanatical triumphalism of the Wahabbi sect. Religious fanaticism without money is harmless; with unlimited funds provided by Saudi elites the movement has become dangerous. And the money continues to flow and the Wahabbi mosques continue to be built and the West remains silent for fear of offending progressive pieties.*

    * except for Switzerland who had no objection to Saudi mosques provided the Saudis allowed the construction of Christian churches.

    Comment by Drew Yallop — November 23, 2015 @ 1:06 pm

  13. Tim – good point about the global oil market. I agree.

    Regarding your comment on the Iraq War, I assume you mean the 1990/91 conflict? And again I agree. It continually amazes me that the strategic importance of the Saudi Eastern Province, Qatar and UAE is overlooked by the media when they discuss the geopolitics of the region. It would be anathema for the United States (indeed the entire world) to have anti western powers control (read: disrupt) the oil supply from those regions (although I would suggest that today with US shale oil the effects would be less dire than 10, 20 or 30 years ago).

    This discussion brings to mind the account in “Oil Kings”, by Andrew Scott Cooper, of how seriously the Americans considered invading Abu Dhabi during the Arab oil embargo in late 1973 to demonstrate US power to their putative allies in the region. Ironically, it seems that due to the embargo, the US military would only have been able to carry out such an invasion if the Shah of Iran provided the relevant US fleet in the region with the necessary fuel (that fleet was at the time completely reliant for its fuelling needs on the very Gulf Arabs who had imposed the embargo!).

    Comment by Anthony Carlisle — November 23, 2015 @ 5:13 pm

  14. Regarding your comment on the Iraq War, I assume you mean the 1990/91 conflict?

    No, I meant the 2003 Iraq War. One or two of the American leadership actually said it at the time, that the US had a concern that – following 9/11 – as soon as it had its back turned and its forces tied up somewhere else, Saddam Hussein would once again start threatening the Saudi oilfields. A lot of people liked to say that Saddam Hussein was no threat, but this was largely due to the American army sat in Saudi Arabia ready to meet him head-on should he try anything. But the presence of the American army in Saudi was a huge problem for the Saudis, as it was deeply unpopular, not least with Osama bin Laden whose main issue with the US was that their infidel army was on holy Saudi soil (all the rest of his bluster about Israel, etc. came way later). While Saddam was still in power, the American army had to stay in Saudi; and the Americans didn’t want to have to factor in Saddam Hussein marching on Saudi if and when their forces are engaged elsewhere. So, in my opinion, the Americans decided to grasp this nettle at a time of their own choosing rather than get dragged in at some later date when they are already stretched elsewhere. Of course, this all got drowned out in the WMD bullshit and all the other arguments as the US sought to justify regime change through legal channels, the UN, and international coalitions. But it has long been my opinion that the world effectively offloaded the responsibility of keeping the Gulf oil flowing to the US, and the US simply acted on that mandate.

    Two things happened post-Saddam that support this theory: the American army decamped in short order to Qatar, thus solving the problem of having infidel soldiers on holy Saudi soil. And the Kuwaitis launched an enormous programme to rebuild their oilfield infrastructure which had been left to deteriorate following the Gulf War through fear of another invasion. It was participating in this programme that saw me move to Kuwait in 2003-2004.

    I think a lot of world leaders privately acknowledged the US’ role in keeping the Gulf oil flowing and keeping Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which is why the protests at the Iraq War never really amounted to anything concrete (especially from China). The Russians and French objected mainly because they stood to lose a lot of money from unpaid debts and future contracts should Saddam Hussein be ousted, but I think even they quietly acknowledged that the US is the one keeping the world open for business in terms of the oil flowing from the Gulf.

    Comment by Tim Newman — November 24, 2015 @ 4:48 am

  15. Tim Newman’s #14 comment is insightful and I generally agree with it. I previously understood that a military response was necessary for the 9/11 attack. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudi and/or Yemeni citizens. Saudi Arabia through its advocacy of Wahhabism had been a primary driver behind Islamic extremist violence and facilitated the rise of al Qaeda. Attacking Saudi Arabia due to 9/11 would have been the emotional reaction and precisely the wrong response. An attack against Saudi Arabia would have triggered a religious war between the West and the Islamic world due to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina being compromised. Triggering such an attack was precisely bin Laden’s strategy, i.e. the destruction of the Saudi monarchy followed by an East/West religious war. Withdrawing the remaining American troops from Saudi Arabia was the correct reply to bin Laden’s attack. However next attacking Saddam Hussein showed another level of sophistication in American planning. Saddam Hussein was a loose-end remaining from the Persian Gulf war. It had been assumed that the Iraqi people would have overthrown Saddam or Saddam’s own henchmen would have devoured him due to the fiasco of the Kuwait invasion . Neither event occurred. Instead, it appeared that Saddam was on the road towards political and economic recovery.

    Saddam was a menace and he had to be removed. The Saudi’s did not originally support the United States in removing the Saddam from power after his defeat in the Persian Gulf war. The Saudis astutely understood that it would be a bad precedent for them to have a Western power removing objectionable Arab governments by military means. However 9/11 gave the United States the perfect excuse to remove Saddam and show our displeasure with the Saudis at the same time.

    Taking down Saddam was a good strategic response to 9/11. The actual conquest of Iraq was done brilliantly by America’s military despite some last minute surprises from Turkey’s Erdogan. Where things got sticky, was in our handling of the occupation of Iraq. One might have naively assumed the Iraqi people would be overjoyed to be rid of a vicious tyrant like Saddam. However any joy they felt at being rid of Saddam was negated by their shame/dread at being conquered by a nominally Christian nation. It would have been in the Iraqi’s own best interests to have cooperated with the United States in transitioning to a democracy. However the Iraqi’s own religious prejudices excluded that option.

    Then there was this remarkable reaction by “the Left” in the United States and Europe. One could almost call this reaction insane. The ill conceived requirement to withdraw from Iraq before some sort of stable government was established set the stage for the rise of the Daesh and all the subsequent horrors. In many ways, Barrack Obama has been the anti-[George W. Bush]. With the administration of George W. Bush, there was at least some sort of attempt at strategic rationality even if events did not proceed completely as planned. However with Obama, the reaction has been emotional bordering on random with seemingly little concern for long term consequences.

    Comment by Eggplant — November 24, 2015 @ 5:26 pm

  16. I think we all agree that the core geopolitical interest of the United States in the Middle East (putting Israeli security to one side) is the uninterrupted flow of oil from the region and this is accomplished by US policy which ensures:

    (i) the preservation of relatively friendly regimes on the south-western shore of the Persian Gulf (particularly the regime that controls the Eastern Province) so as to allow the uninterrupted flow of oil from those countries (and the region generally),

    (ii) the containment of the unfriendly powers in the region (e.g. Iraq up to 2003 and Iran after 1979) to ensure (a) they do not coerce or invade the more lightly populated but more bountifully fossil fuel endowed Gulf Arab regimes and (b) they are otherwise (due to their own not inconsiderable fossils fuel reserves) either straightjacketed into the international oil trading system or at the very least not able to materially disrupt it, and

    (iii) since the retreat of Britain from the east of Suez in the late 1960s, no external power (e.g. the Soviet Union) is able to project power into region to upset the status quo referred to in (i) and (ii) above.

    I have always thought that the real reason behind the 2003 Iraq invasion was to remove a regime that had actively and continually tried to upset the above US policy. In other words, US policy makers lost faith in their ability to contain Saddam over the long term. Accordingly, they used the pretext of 9/11 (a once in a decade opportunity) to calibrate the above policy by invading Iraq to overthrow the Saddam regime to ensure the policy could otherwise continue as before. It would seem that they have been successful in this regard. 12 years on the status quo set out above remains securely intact. However, I expect you might reasonably argue about whether the 2003 Iraq invasion was really required (perhaps Saddam could have been indefinitely contained?) and/or was the price of the invasion worth paying particularly now we see the rise of ISIS. Probably “yes” to both questions, but not as clear cut as one might like …

    I largely agree with Tim Newman’s most recent comment although I wonder whether it was really necessary for the United States to maintain ground forces in Saudi Arabia to deter a post-1991 Iraqi invasion and to otherwise contain Iraq. Surely bases in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar and air power would have been sufficient for this purpose? This is a military question, of course, and I concede that I query this point with the benefit of hindsight following the rapid collapse of the Iraqi military in the 2003 invasion (but the collapse of the same military in 1991 was also pretty dramatic). And I also query whether the pressure to retain US ground forces in Saudi Arabia following 1991 was more due to the insistence of the Saudis (never to be acknowledged of course!) than due to any purely military requirement. In any event, I agree that removing the US military from Saudi Arabia was extremely useful to the maintenance of the overall policy outlined above (particularly point (i)).

    Eggplant – I really don’t see that there was any significant pressure (not least from the US public) post 9/11 to invade Saudi Arabia due in particular to the origin of most of the hijackers and in general to the adverse consequences of Saudi originated Wahhabism. So I am not convinced by your contention (I think) that such pressure was relieved by invading Iraq. In terms of satisfying US public opinion vis-a-vis 9/11, I have always had the view that the US-led overthrow of the Taliban regime was more than sufficient to sate this. In any event, 9/11 did not seem to create a national thirst for vengeance in Americans towards a particular country in the way that, say, Pearl Harbour did. (And, as an aside, I don’t see a US invasion of Saudi Arabia as necessarily leading to religious war. The bits of Saudi Arabia that are vital to US interests are no where near Mecca or Medina and no doubt if the US had to invade Saudi Arabia the could round up and sufficiently arm some Arabic faction from abroad (Jordanians would be my candidate – the Hashemites claimed and I think briefly held the guardianship of the holy shrines after WW1) or from within Saudi and direct them to seize the holy cities from any belligerent regime or faction. Yes, it would be extremely messy and would lead no doubt to endless additional Islamic grievance and probably much additional terrorism. But the benefits accruing from maintaining control of the oil flow out of the Persian Gulf significantly outweigh (and I am speaking in orders of magnitude) the costs of Islamic opprobrium and resulting terrorism.)

    Which leads me to my final point – I am often surprised that the core US policy (as I have perhaps inexpertly set out above) is so overlooked by commentators on the ongoing troubles in the region. It was certainly not often mentioned in 2002/3 in the lead up to the Gulf War and this frustrated me at the time. It was like there was a massive elephant in the room that no one saw or otherwise ignored. Indeed, the only people who glimpsed the elephant were, frustratingly, the anti-war demonstrators who claimed that the invasion was simply a matter of oil. Yes, absolutely right but I expect that most of those people only thought of the oil benefit being that of increased earnings for western oil interests (who might regain their long lost power in the region) and companies in related infrastructure sectors (e.g. Halliburton). What no one mentioned was how devastating it would be for the world economy should the US leave the Persian Gulf and allow the countries in the region or any power that replaced the United States to dictate policy to the west on the threat of turning off the taps. Could these people not see that the US invasion of Iraq was just part of a fundamental policy whose aim was to ensure that a terrible economic depression was not caused by an anti-western power dominating that region? Didn’t any of them/us remember what happened in the mid 1970s – and back then most of the relevant players who advocated boycotts or otherwise continuing oil price increases that so damaged the global economy (the Saudis, the UAE and the Shah) were supposedly friendly to the west! I often think, no doubt naively, that if our politicians had more properly educated all of us as to why US dominance in the Persian Gulf is so vital to our national and (crucially) economic security there would be more support for US policy in the region. But such fundamental policy objectives are rarely mentioned and American and British politicians instead unconvincingly referred to the narrower threat of Saddam obtaining WMD without explaining why this really was a bad thing.

    Most pernicious of all were the actions of the French and Germans (particularly the French) in opposing the US in the United Nations just before the 20013 invasion. These were countries who massively benefited from the ongoing maintenance of the core-US policy in the Persian Gulf (i.e. their very energy security) but blatantly took for granted that the United States would, no matter what, maintain that core policy, so allowing the French and Germans to cynically take positions which were politically convenient to them at home with their ill-informed electorates to oppose the Gulf War. Russia, of course, also opposed the Gulf War but given the fact the Russians had less interest in the core US policy this was less surprising and certainly less cynical (at least as far as western expectations of Russia is concerned). Russian policy makers would, it seems, trade the huge benefits to Russia arising from a stable US dominated world order for the foreign policy gains Russia could make vis-à-vis the United States in a more turbulent and less safe world. I guess it was the disgust of the Americans towards the French and less so the Germans which lead Condoleezza Rice to say sometime soon after the war: “Punish France, ignore Germany, forgive Russia.”

    Comment by Anthony Carlisle — November 24, 2015 @ 11:08 pm

  17. I am often surprised that the core US policy (as I have perhaps inexpertly set out above) is so overlooked by commentators on the ongoing troubles in the region. It was certainly not often mentioned in 2002/3 in the lead up to the Gulf War and this frustrated me at the time. It was like there was a massive elephant in the room that no one saw or otherwise ignored. Indeed, the only people who glimpsed the elephant were, frustratingly, the anti-war demonstrators who claimed that the invasion was simply a matter of oil. Yes, absolutely right but I expect that most of those people only thought of the oil benefit being that of increased earnings for western oil interests (who might regain their long lost power in the region) and companies in related infrastructure sectors (e.g. Halliburton). What no one mentioned was how devastating it would be for the world economy should the US leave the Persian Gulf and allow the countries in the region or any power that replaced the United States to dictate policy to the west on the threat of turning off the taps.

    Absolutely. This is what I’ve been banging on about for years.

    Comment by Tim Newman — November 25, 2015 @ 5:26 am

  18. @ Eggplant

    It would have been in the Iraqi’s own best interests to have cooperated with the United States in transitioning to a democracy.

    == or at least to an inclusive government; but Sunnis and Shias getting along in government? In the absence of brutal force, such as that exercised by Saddam Hussein? You are right – Ollie Ollie In Free would never permit that. And of course there are tribes to consider.

    And certainly Ollie Ollie In free would never want democracy – only theocracy.

    Comment by elmer — November 25, 2015 @ 8:50 am

  19. Perhaps 9/11 gave us better reason for invading Iraq, and keeping the oil secure. Of course now if we had a better president we would be able to have a slow simmer in Iraq than the hot mess we have now. But under Saddam Hussein Iraq, already a less than western culture, became radicalized, socially and religiously.

    If Bush senior had taken out Saddam in the first war, then although the country was already socially radicalized, it was, I believe, not yet religiously radicalized. And so yes, because of a Bush we have Isis.
    But it is easy to do monday morning quarterbacking

    Comment by traveler — November 26, 2015 @ 6:19 pm

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