08 September 2006
The October Surprise is Coming!
The Bush Iraqi strategy for a pre-November 2006 time period continues to support a politically-timed notion that Bush will declare “We have met our goals” and so he will announce the US’s military objective is the reinstatement of the Iraqi Army as the “primary source of responsibility” for its national security. Bush then can declare that the Coalition’s continuing role will be to support the elected federal government in Baghdad if asked. “This is how democracy works, see. The government decides the military’s priorities and the people elect the government.”
Because I've always believed the invasion of Iraq was and remains all about securing Iraq's oil and US oil companies’ access to the Caucasus oil reserves. The key to Bush's Iraq plans has been to salvage what the US and UK oil companies (plus the oil service and supply/pipeline companies) want. Of the list of construction projects in Iraq since 2003, most are "infrastructure" reconstruction and new construction. Petroleum production requires sufficient water and electricity for initial refining of crude oil pumped from the wells. The contractors in place, including security personnel, are under contract to the Iraqi government. The pipelines have to be rebuilt because of war damage and continuing sabotage by Iraqi insurgents. US Foreign Aid grants and loans will have limited funds to pay the contractors; the Iraqis will have to pay them. [Any resulting defaults or contractor abandonment will be "spun" as the fault of “this fledgling, war-tried, democratic, Iraqi government.”]
Last February I wrote a prognosis for Bush’s War and sent it to my local public broadcast station, YourCallRadio.org at KALW.org in San Francisco. Here is what my email said:
“As the US and Britain withdraw their combat forces to less than half the number currently in Iraq (to about 50,000 total), Bush's strategy is to replace the troops guarding these infrastructure facilities with KBR personnel under contract to the Iraqi government. This approach will enable the Iraqi government to declare that Iraq is no longer under occupation. Then, the Iraqi army/police forces will have popular support for defeating the "foreign" Arab militias that might want to remain in Iraq. The infrastructure security and operations personnel would be provided by KBR's personal services division in Britain. At this point, Bush and the Republicans will be able to boast about finishing the job in Iraq. Ironically, the timing will be within two months of the mid-term elections.
“The American electorate loves winners, so GOP reelection campaigns will receive much more support and votes than if the voters were to choose Democrats who might offer new hope and new approaches. Bush and the GOP candidates would have to overcome our military's failure to find Osama or unable to suppress the Iraqi Resistance groups with combat and occupation-related dead and injured numbers continuing.
“An ancillary goal of Bush's Iraqi plans [perhaps the President's primary objective] has to be a jury conclusion and guilty verdict for Saddam Hussein. Because the trial is on its face being conducted under Iraqi law by an Iraqi judiciary, the government of Iraq could not afford to leave Saddam Hussein alive and in prison. If Saddam Hussein is acquitted, watch for the US to smuggle him out of Iraq for ultimate rendering in a country not to be identified. Cynical, yes; absurd, hardly; always subject to incompetency; and only if the US military leaders are allowed by the Bush/Cheney gang to ensure that Hussein will not escape execution. The best arguments against this actually happening are the incompetent decision-makers in Washington who got the US into Iraq in the first place.
“Finally, Bush will sign an agreement with the Iraqi Kurds to provide them with cash and other resources to remain independent (viz. autonymous) from Baghdad and Ankara. This agreement will be the quid pro quo for the past 10-15 years that the US has enabled the Kurds to build their own state in opposition to the Ba’athists.”
This “Bush Declaration” regarding Kurdish autonomy will cause a diplomatic explosion in Turkey, Iran, Syria and Russia who have ruled the Kurds for centuries. Ultimately, such an agreement should prevail at the UN because it would represent self-determination by a people. The “Bush Declaration” would have the equivalent effect on this region of Southwest Asia that the Balfour Declaration did in 1914 wherein the British established the principle that Jews of the Diaspora were entitled to a homeland in Palestine.
A thousand years of ethnic memories continue to fuel innate dislike and distrust among the Turks, Kurds and Arabs. Salah-ed-Deen (Saladin) established his rule over most of the peoples from the Black Sea to Cordoba. Saladin defeated the European, Christian kings of the Holy Land and captured Jerusalem in the mid-14th Century. Saladin was a Kurd. Throughout Saladin’s reign, his military forces spent as much effort controlling the Shi’ite and Sunni Arabs from killing each other as his forces did conquering the Holy Land and North Africa.
In many aspects, the Shia-Sunni schism within Islam is quite similar to the Roman Catholic-Protestant Schism that began in the 16th Century. If instead of saying “Shia” one substitutes “Protestant” and for “Sunni” use “Roman Catholic”, much of the Middle East’s political alliances become more understandable to people living in the Western Hemisphere. It took five centuries of war and changing allegiances for 21st century Europe - from Ireland to Romania - to attain a semblance of political stability along religious and ethnic lines. The fall of totalitarian governments from 1970 to 2000 allowed self-determination within ethnic regions and governments directly accountable to the people through the ballot box. The USSR in Eastern Europe and the dictatorships of Gen. Franco in Spain and Marshall Tito in Yugoslavia stifled many aspirations for self-governance within their respective, forced borders.
Thus, I conclude that the best outcome for the US in the Middle East is a quiet, swift extraction of our military forces from the entire region. Just as Christians, estranged from Judaism in 74 AD, have not reconciled into a sectarian Judaism today, until the Sunnis and Shi’tes bury their theological and political differences within Islam, the people in the Middle East will continue to bury their dead. Since the 1st Century, nothing has changed for peoples of the Book except “who’s on top today.” For Jews, personal reconciliations with Islam must occur before peaceful, political co-existence is possible. All claims to primacy of place among the primary combattants (Arab, Jew or Christian) in today’s Middle East come from national boundaries established by their military conquests centuries if not millenia ago.
Lest one deludes oneself that we will see the Middle East become a peaceful region of the world within our lifetimes, consider that none of the signed treaties or cease-fires since 1947 contain any statement of agreement on the governance of Jerusalem. On this I rest my cynical, pessimistic case and look forward with hope to learning the contrary.