I recusitate a post from the pre-Iraq II war, to highlight similitudes with Iraq III.
Polybius famously differentiated between the CAUSE, PRETEXT and BEGINNING of a war. Often times these three concepts are purposefully or accidentally confused, to the point that Iraq II was justified (caused) by such disparate concepts as 9/11, WMD’s, Axis of Evil, “he gassed his own people” and a plethora of other excuses. Reading between the lines and consulting historical experience, it was clear that Iraq II was a war of aggression, partly caused by a desire to control oil/economic interests and partly to maintain or increase the west’s “sphere of influence”.
For many of us, before Iraq II, these elements were pretty clear because we didn’t fall for the rather over-the-top propaganda sold to us. Some didn’t beleive that WMD’s existed, others (like myself) felt that they didn’t matter in a nuked world. In any case, the “case” put forward was unpotable.
Fast forward a number of years and suddenly we are confronted with a supposedly anti-war, Nobel Peace Prize winning potus, calling for a “sterile war” against a group that’s been around for years. A group, FTR, that largely arose from our invasion of Iraq in those halcyon years of the Duba presidency (when black and white seemed so clear to many).The justifications for Iraq III are, for me, almost as preposterous as those for Iraq II, and have been spewed by the usual suspects.
By the usual suspects I mean the WH, the subservient press, and a willing “opposition” that desires Iraq III even more so than the WH does.
My POV has been quite clear:
1. War is the LAST recourse, and only justifiable in self-defense.
2. Wars, even undertaken under the “purest” and most “honest” pretexts, rarely turn out as desired. More often than not, the results end up being far worse than the status quo ante bellum, for either or both sides.
3. The timing of the “declaration” of “sterile war” seems to follow public opinion rather than actual policy. If the journalists hadn’t been so egregiously murdered, how many Americans would have even HEARD of ISIS/ISIL?
4. The “enemy” is also the “enemy of an enemy”, and our purported “friends” cannot be greatly differentiated from our purported enemies. Assad is an enemy, Iran is an enemy, Saudi Arabia probably should be an enemy, many Gulf States are hardly friendly allies, and Israel is a friend that isn’t friendly at all.
5. In the middle we have millions of people who, rightfully or not, feel injured by the West in general and the US in particular.
6. ISIS/ISIL is a Sunni organization, the enemy of Assad, of the pro-Shiite Iraquí regime, of the House of Saud, of Iran, and of the false borders negotiated a century ago. They have learned, from OBL and Dubya, how to play the PR game, and, like OBL (and unlike Dubya), are gaining a respect from regional and international Sunnis. Much of their support and perhaps 10% of their fighters, come from internation Sunni communities, including Western ones.
7. ISIS/ISIL is HUGELY outnumbered and outarmed by its enemies. By hugely, I mean 1.000-1 odds or worse, probably worse. They only survive because of cross-border Suni support, and because even such NATO allies such as Turkey buy oil from them and thus help to finance their cause.
8. ISIS/ISIL has been rightfully accused of perpetrating a number of atrocities. Most of these have been “pr stunts”, and thus the videos. Yet their enemies (especially Syria and the pro-Shiite Iraqui government) have perpetrated similar ones, with nary a mention in the mainstream press. There seems to be a double standard with regards to atrocities in the region, and one telling factor with regards to their effects is that ISIS/ISIL has widespread support amongst the Sunnies, to the point of the Iraqui army and Iraqui “militia” retreating without landing a blow in response.
9. All this, to me, screams loudly of another case of framing, propaganda, or whatever you want to call it.
10. The US “reaction” to ISIS/ISIL is to create another coalition of the willing and to drop bombs. The coalition is small, reluctant, and luke-warm (at best).
11. Air power (something which ISIS/ISIL has none of) has never won a war on its own. EVER.
12. Fighting against an enemy with local support (guerrilla warfare) has never won.
13. Going against popular support never wins (and it’s abundantly clear, unless one is limited to following mainstream press), and ISIS/ISIL has popular support in the region (outside non-Sunnis, of course).
13+1 (an aside) Yes, these people are animals, yet most of our “allies” are animals as well.
13 + 2 (another one) If anyone followed my posts on Tunisia, fear of fundamentalists should be tempered. Both in Tunisia and in Egypt, once the fundamentalists were in power, they lost almost all support through their combined incompetence and corrpution.
14. There’s a tremendous lack of consitency in fighting an enemy of our enemies (Assad, Iran) who is an enemy of our allies (Iraq) and a friend of the majority of the world’s largest religion (Sunni Islam). Is there ANY conceivable scenario where we can win this battle?
So – to the Polybian analysis.
What’s the CAUSE of the war? The PRETEXT? The BEGINNING?
Of the three points, the 2 latter ones are clear:
– ISIS/ISIL killed some Americans who should have known better than to have gone there.
– ISIS/ISIL are horrible people, albeit as horrible as their enemies and our friends. They want to erase the borders imposed by Sykes-Picot, they want a fundamentalist state, they want to impose Sharia law, and other such things which are prevailing ideas in the region. IOW, a pretty weak pretext.
-ISIS/ISIL, far weaker than their opponents, want to impose Islam on the world (which is akin to Pat Robertson wanting to become Pope of the world).
– In all, a pretty weak pretext, even weaker than WMD’s if one thinks about it.
When Obama, probably under presure from the MIC and the effects of triangulation, decided to react to beheadings by leading us to yet another war (Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and a few others).
And the CAUSE?
This is where I think there’s a real debate. The rest, IMO, is just Soars Board garbage, supporting preconceived ideas or following the colours. And for the like of me, only a few ideas come about, which, unsurprisingly, coincide with the causes of Iraq II:
Oil, Israel and the MIC.
So let the debate begin. Or not.
I can predict what Uzi will say, but I have some hope that Timbuk will open his mind somewhat and think outside the box.