Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Muddle East

By Alan Caruba

For a long time the world’s attention to an increasing degree was on Vietnam. A war was fought there from 1954 until 1975, but the U.S. didn’t get seriously involved until August 7, 1964 with the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the arrival of the first combat troops in March 1965. It would take ten years to extricate ourselves from that mess.

The U.S. would remain shy of such conflicts until the 1990s.

In the August 23 Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens provided a short history of the U.S. involvement in Iraq in an article titled “The Twenty Year’s War.” He traced Saddam Hussein’s malevolent trail of death inflicted on Iraqis, Kurds, and, in 1990, the Kuwaitis when he invaded.

Stephens believes Bush41 could have avoided the necessity of Bush43 having to invade a second time to find Saddam and let his people hang him.

I agree with Stephens’ view and recall how appalled Bush41 and Colin Powell were at the efficient and brutal destruction of the Iraqi army in 1990. At the time Powell was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The result was a hasty Iraqi surrender agreement that nullified what had been a victory for U.S. forces.

Later, as Secretary of State to Bush43, Powell tried to talk him out of the second invasion. War is hell, but history teaches that it is frequently necessary. Powell was a very reluctant warrior. The result, said Stephens, was a war that lasted nineteen years longer than it should have.

That got me thinking about the way Israel, from the day it was founded in May 1948 to the present, has never ceased to be in a state of war with its “neighbors” although both Jordan and Egypt concluded peace, the absence of active war, was a good idea. Both got severely mauled in earlier attempts to destroy Israel and peace had included the return of the Sinai to Egypt.

So, here we are, over sixty years later, still concerned for Israel’s fate and especially so now that Iran will have the nuclear plant to which the U.S. and Europe objected and Russia built. At a billion bucks each, Russia understandably thinks this is a good idea.

Back in the 1930s when it was the Soviet Union, Stalin thought it was a good idea to sign a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany in order to divide Poland between them. Twenty million dead Russians later, Stalin no doubt regretted dealing with Hitler. I’m guessing that Putin will have cause to regret the deal with Iran.

Iran’s Brushehr nuclear plant is built on a fault line, one of several that cover some ninety percent of the nation’s land mass. Moreover, it has a long history of earthquakes that since 1900 have killed an estimated 126,000 Iranians. The most recent was on September 10, 2008 and prior to that there were earthquakes every year from 2003 to 2006.

There’s another kind of earthquake that is also developing in Iran and it is a human one because the vast bulk of the population, born since the 1979 revolution, really hates the Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. They shout “Death to the dictator” at public gatherings. Mamoud Ahmadinejad is just as unpopular. Events, both natural and social, are likely to overtake the current regime.

The Iranians are Persians. They have funded Hezbollah and Hamas, two Arab groups bent on Israel’s annihilation. The threat to Israel is very real, but it is a diversion, a way to keep Iranian and Arab masses focused on that little nation instead of their own oppressive regimes.

The nations and groups currently trying to spread terror worldwide are Arab. Nobody likes or trusts the Arabs and that includes the Arabs. Thanks to its nuclear capabilities, the Arabs distrust Iran’s Persians, too.

The seemingly endless suicide bombings, usually of mosques, are beginning to make Arab Muslims as well as Muslims in non-Arab nations regard this expression of fanaticism as counter-productive.

In Europe where large Arab Muslim populations exist, there are signs that the Europeans have grown tired of their demands and wary of their ghettos, tiny nations within nations, where they live and threaten the social fabric of France, Germany, the Netherlands, and elsewhere on the continent.

It’s not that the Middle East won’t remain a tinderbox of conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. It will, but even in Muslim nations there are forces at work to strike back against al Qaeda and the Taliban as was the case when Pakistan sent troops to the Swat Valley before the recent floods inflicted an even greater threat to its population.

Decades of Islamic oppression within Arab nations is slowly creating a blowback.

If Allah is so great, the world is demonstrating time and again that jihad usually means getting attacked at great cost whether it is Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, or Somalia. Even Turkey, the one nation that had thrived by imposing a secular government after World War One, is feeling the heat for having drifted into the Arab orbit.

In America, where freedom of religion is part of our DNA, the threat of an Arab-inspired Islamic jihad has worn thin our traditional tolerance. The current debate over the audacity of building a mosque within sight of Ground Zero is evidence that enough is enough.

Al Qaeda will worsen life for American Muslims as it continues to recruit them. As reported in Israpundit.com, “It’s under new American management. No fewer than four U.S. citizens and a permanent U.S. resident have risen to senior leadership posts”, warning that “By remaking itself into an American enterprise, al Qaeda is now more lethal than ever.”

How ironic is it that Americans, in a burst of enthusiasm for “cultural diversity”, elected a president who was raised in a Muslim nation, Indonesia, and returned to the U.S. to be raised by grandparents enthralled with communism.

The conflict that some in the Middle East want to export will take its toll on that region of the world until it is exorcised and it will threaten Americans until they root it out from within their society. Being politically correct only gets people killed.

A twenty year’s war? No, much longer than that.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


LarryOldtimer said...

I have to disagree with you on the Russia-Iran connection part, Alan.

Russia has immense known and extractable petroleum reserves, and Putin greatly desires that those reserves be exploited and exported, which would benefit the Russian economy in great fashion.

A large war, yes, even a nuclear war, in the Mideast would prevent competition from Mideast petroleum producers. The Strait of Hormuz is very vulnerable to disruption, if not closure entirely. There are vast above ground crude oil tank farms and crude oil loading facilities on the west side of the Gulf of Oman which would most certainly be destroyed as a result of a large war started by Iran.

Russia would then be in the catbird's seat as far as providing crude oil and natural gas to the rest of the world, and the money of other nations would pour into Russia.

The US in particular has been a bountiful nation compared to other countries worldwide. As a result, we have grown soft since WWII. Russia is and always has been a harsh mistress, and the Russians are a tough people as a result.

Putin is a Russian by birth, and a fanatic patriot to Russia. He is a hard and intelligent man, looking after only what is of benefit to Russia. Russia either supples or can quickly shut down 80% of the natural gas which Europeans can't survive winter without.

During WWII, the Allies had to "play for keeps", and a huge number of civilians in Europe and the USSR lost their lives to the war as a result.

Putin is "The power behind the throne" in Russia and a determined man. He seems to me to be willing to "play for keeps", and we misjudge that determination at our peril.

Our government has, since WWII, spent huge amounts of American taxpayer money in an attempt to prevent another world war from happening, and we really have no more money left to spend. Europe has no money to spend either. It is costing Russia little money, and at little risk to Russia, to set the stage for large war in the Mideast, to be started by the religious fanatics of Islam in Iran, which would greatly benefit Russia.

Alan Caruba said...

Good point! I should have spotted that one myself, but I am glad you did.