Monday, October 25, 2010

Iranian Hegemony, American Timidity

By Alan Caruba

Remember George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil”? Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. Bush identified these three during a January 29, 2002 State of the Union speech. On March 20, 2003, the U.S. and coalition forces invaded Iraq in “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” We were assured that weapons of mass destruction would be found and, for the most part, few were.

The U.S. had been in Afghanistan since shortly after 9/11 in 2001, but Iraq became the focus and Afghanistan a backwater combat area where, as best as one can determine, nothing much has changed except that, reportedly, the U.S. is providing cover for meetings between the Taliban and President Karzai. The levels of corruption between these two are impossible to parse and, as usual, the only topic on the agenda is who gets to control the heroin industry that passes for Afghanistan’s Gross Domestic Product. Also reported is that Iran has been bribing top Afghan officials.

When I served in the U.S. Army, it was in a minor intelligence function as part of the Second Infantry Division. Its primary duty for a very long time has been the defense of South Korea where approximately 30,000 troops are stationed. They have been there since a truce was signed in 1953! The U.S. tends to stay on forever once we’ve invaded a country with the exception, of course, of Vietnam.

I mentioned my Army service only because the most recent intelligence “dump” by WikiLeaks evokes a visceral response to ever letting our enemies know anything about our conduct of the Iraq war and, in this case, the enemy is still Iran. It has been Iran since they took our diplomats hostage in 1979.

To my mind, WikiLeaks is engaged in an act of war against the United States, but I am sure that a legion of international lawyers would say they are not.

The worst part of all this is an analysis reported by an Israeli news agency, Debka File, over the past weekend. As often as not, one will find reports there that never seem to make it into the mainstream media here in the U.S.A.

For example, I suspect most Americans have no idea that we again have a second carrier group in the area of the Persian Gulf. That’s a lot of fire power and one or two such groups have been parked there for a very long time for a very good reason. Meanwhile, Egypt and Saudi Arabia just conducted “secret” war maneuvers together and it isn’t because either expects to be invaded by Bahrain.

The initial Debka File analysis of the U.S. classified documents “bared a catalogue of extreme abuse by Iraqi forces against fellow Iraqis and Iran’s deep involvement in terrorist operations against Americans and Iraqis alike—to both of which the U.S. turned a blind eye.”

Several very troubling facts emerge from the documents. U.S. troops “were instructed not to investigate any breach of the laws of armed conflict, such as abuses of detainees, unless it directly involves members of the coalition.” That kind of directive comes down the chain of command from the very top.

Iraq became a sovereign nation on June 30, 2004 and the fighting among its elected leaders has not ceased for a day as to how the oil riches will be divvied up between Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites.

The last elections were held on March 9, 2010 and Iraq still does not have a functioning government. In the days when Saddam Hussein ran everything, elections involved a 99% vote for the psychopath, but this year’s election involved 325 seats in the parliament and a coalition government has not been decided upon for the last eight months.

Granting that Saddam was evil incarnate, he was nonetheless a bulwark against Iranian ambitions. He had invaded Iran in the 1980s and spent eight years trying to win a war against it. Failing that, he turned around and invaded Kuwait, drawing the U.S. into the first invasion, but one in which he was allowed to remain in power after Iraqi troops were pushed out of Kuwait.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has had the backing of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. In the past he has had ties to Iran because both are Shiites and, according to Debka File he “headed Iran-backed Shiite terror networks responsible for political assassinations on his orders.”

The new intelligence data reveals even more about the extensive involvement of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Al Qods Brigades in attacks on American forces in Iraq. Over the course of the conflict there since 2003, American troops suffered 4,287 dead and 30,000 wounded in combat.

Out of all this expenditure of American treasure and lives, Iran has emerged with a strong network of puppet militias in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. It has forged strong ties with Syria. It has a network of allies inside Iraq. And it has pursued its quest for nuclear weapons and the development of the missiles to deliver them as far away as parts of Europe.

All of this suggests that America’s expressed policy of establishing a democratic Iraq and the total lack of confrontation with Iran adds up to failure at this point. The problem with that assertion, however, is that Saddam was an unpredictable, disruptive figure who had to be neutralized.

It looks like George W. Bush’s Axis of Evil is still very much intact and an understandably war-weary United States is leaving a battlefield whose nations were created in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles way back when Woodrow Wilson was the president.

As the French say, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


LarryOldtimer said...

It would seem that you are concerned with the heroin trade, Alan. It is not the trading in heroin that is the problem, but rather what it was that caused such a demand for heroin and other like drugs. The plain fact is, that our "drug policies" made this huge expansion happen.

Mainly, it increased substantially the "street price", making it extremely profitable for illegal drug dealers and smugglers.

As I said on another post, trying to eliminate the poppy fields by bombing them was very stupid.

The way it works is, poppy plants flower. Before they flower, the plants have buds, like rose buds. The growers slice the buds, and sap rich in opium leaks out. When it dries a bit, it is scraped off, and is then sold to those who smuggle it out and make heroin from it.

If we really wanted to end this source, it would be relatively inexpensive.

Just take very large shredders with automatic counters for unsliced poppy buds, and pay the growers in cash for the unsliced poppy buds shredded.

Say there were a billion poppy buds each year. At 10 cents a bud, the cost would be only 100 million dollars per year, far, far less than what we are pay now, and only the smugglers, refiners and dealers would be unhappy. The tribesmen would be protecting this operation, instead of cooperating with the Taliban to rid them of us.

The people, that is, the common people, would totally love this, as the growers would make far more selling their "product" to us, with far less labor, and it would greatly benefit the economy of Afghanistan, with no need of American taxpayer dollars to attempt to "build their economy".

There are ways other than military force to meet our objectives, that would be far less costly to the taxpayers of America, in both lives and dollars.

Alan Caruba said...

Well, Larry, if you are going to apply common sense to the problem, there's not much left to say about it.

Actually, I tend not to concern myself much with the drug trade as I have concluded that where there is a demand, someone will find a lucrative way to satisfy it.

mawm said...

I have always questioned why the USA has not attacked Iran. They are the source of so much anti-Western and anti-American bile and they sponsor the killing of so many Americans. A couple of tactical nukes.........

Alan Caruba said...

@mawm: You read my mind.

LarryOldtimer said...

I would certainly be in favor of a couple of tactical nukes. Would make a good impression on the rest of the world.

I personally feel the same as you do about the "illegal" drugs, Alan. Where there is a demand, there will be those who will satisfy the demand. With little or no profit, there would be no dealers.