Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Mass assault of bullshit

You knew it would happen. The headline on the CBS News web site this morning: "Is the violence in Iraq Obama's fault? The worsening fallout from the Iraq war Obama ended is casting a long shadow over his foreign policy." NPR this morning featured Vali Nasr of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies arguing that the partition of Iraq would be a disastrous failure for U.S. foreign policy and that "we" have to take responsibility for maintaining the Shiite government's control over all of Iraq. (NPR didn't bother to mention that Nasr grew up in Iran. Relevant?) And similar dreck is all over the place, coming from Republican politicians of course but also as the unexamined assumption of the corporate media. The Iraqi government that the U.S. installed, and the Iraqi army that the U.S. armed and trained, are a fortiori U.S. allies and assets and we have to continue to back them and defend them.

Funny thing -- Iran is already sending Revolutionary Guards to Iraq. Wait a minute, I thought Iran was the bad guys? Now we're supposed to fight alongside them? What's going on here?

Here's the truth. The United States has absolutely no national interest in preserving the arbitrary map of the Middle East that was drawn by departing European colonial powers. Iraq is an artificial creation, and its territorial integrity is already fictitious. Iraqi Kurdistan was de facto independent before the U.S. invasion. The Kurds have taken advantage of the current chaos to expand their own territory. If there ends up being a Sunni Arab state in part of what is now Iraq and Syria, why would it matter to the United States in the slightest? It wouldn't. This has nothing to do with us, there is no national interest at stake, and there is no conceivable reason why it should be a goal of U.S. foreign policy to prevent it or a failure of U.S. foreign policy if it happens.

ISIS is bad guys who we don't like. True. But the population of Anbar and Nineveh provinces also feels the same way about the Iraqi government, and they won't defend it. We don't know how the political situation within the breakaway Sunni region will evolve -- it may well be that ISIS, having spearheaded the secession fight, will ultimately be unable to maintain political control. Or it may be that Iraqi and Iranian forces will be able to re-exert some degree of control over the territory. But whatever happens, it is not our problem, and there is nothing constructive we can do about it except stay the hell away.

Obama was right to get out of Iraq. The Iraqi people didn't want the U.S. military there, and the government would not allow it. So they left. What happens next is just something for us to watch.

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