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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, February 05, 2005

The worst laid plans

posted by Ron Beasley at 2/05/2005 01:54:00 PM


The best laid plans of mice and men,
go oft awry,
And leave us nought but grief and pain,
for promised joy.

......Robert Burns
Of course when were talking about Iraq we are talking about the worst laid plans or lack of a plan at all so it's not too surprising that it has gone very awry and left us with much pain and grief. Leon Hadar tells us about Risk of 'Blowbacks' in Iraq.
It all started in Afghanistan:
In the spy business, "blowback" is a term used to describe unintended negative consequences of actions taken by intelligence agencies to advance national interests. The phrase was allegedly coined by spooks at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to refer to an agent, an operative or an operation that turned on its creator.

Indeed, given prior US support of the Islamic insurgency in Afghanistan during the Cold War and purportedly also of Osama bin Laden, it could be argued that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack was the most prominent contemporary example of blowback, since some contend that this US backing actually helped build Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda as a geopolitical force.

Officials in the administrations that provided US assistance to the Islamic guerillas fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan justified their policies by arguing that they helped force the Soviets out of that country and played a crucial role in the process that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and eventually to the end of the Cold War.
And now it's Iraq:
....only few analysts had foreseen that the anti-communist jihadists that were allied with the Americans during the Cold War would turn on their promoters and form the most violent anti-American force in the world today. Is it possible that 10 years from now as Americans would recall the US military in Iraq, the ousting of Saddam Hussein from power, and the first multiparty elections in that country in 50 years, they would be once again pondering the negative outcomes of the another US policy that was supposed to rid Iraq of an evil dictator, to establish a democracy in Mesopotamia that would serve as a shining model to the entire Middle East, and in the process advance US national interests and promote its values of liberty and freedom?
Enter the Shiites:
For the Shiites, who were repressed by the ruling Arab Sunni minority since the creation of Iraq by the British, the fall of Saddam and their electoral victory marks their assertion to power as an ethnic and religious group that has been marginalised and despised not only by Saddam and his Baath party, but also by other Arab-Sunni and pro-American regimes in the region.

From that perspective, American policy has helped make Iraq safe, not for liberal democracy and individual rights, but for religious and ethnic identity – strengthening the Shiites and the Kurds while radicalising the Sunnis.

Moreover, even the most moderate elements in the Shiite leadership, reflecting the prevailing views in their community, are bound to adopt policies that would formalise their religion's influence on public and private life, weakening protection for the rights of women and minorities.

Similarly, the empowerment of Iraq's Shiite majority would encourage the spread of Iranian influence in Iraq and the region. It is a development that would energise Shiite groups in the Persian Gulf and the Levant most of whom, not unlike the Hizbollah in Lebanon, espouse a religious and political agenda that is antithetical to US values and interests.
So once again US policy makers have failed to take into account the "realities" of the Islamic movement. This time rather than creating a Democratic haven in the middle east we have created an Islamic theocracy that will be pro Iranian and anti American. The early results of the election in Iraq would seem to be the first indications of this "blowback".

Over at The Left Coaster pessimist has a related post. It's long but worth a read.