Rss

Archives for : Iraq

WDDIJ Reflection

Bet you thought I was gone for good?

Happy 2 year anniversary to Words Don’t Do it Justice. I came back for this special occasion just to share with you all some thoughts. It was a wild ride writing for WDDIJ, even if I wasn’t around the longest or anything – it gave me an outlet to express my ideas and opinions to an audience, something I had never really had before. It proved to me that I could actually go out there and put my thoughts into writing and that people would actually give a damn as to what I had to say.

Sure, everyone else around here had way more interesting content to bring to the table but I thought I did the best I could. Ruthless always manages to attract interesting talent to himself, even in the days before WDDIJ it was like that. I enjoyed my entire time there, and I hope you enjoyed me as well. It was fun trying to find something to talk about, something to hopefully shed light on for those unaware. I talked a lot about the Middle East during my time there but that is because it was something that was always kind of personal to me. A lot of people have the entirely wrong idea about Islam, and as a historian it makes me cringe when people act like the Middle East was this savage land that we should just carpet bomb. Islam is so much more than what the Media wants you to believe, and while I am not a Muslim myself, I hold their religion in deep regard and some of the nicest and most selfless individuals I have met have been Muslims.

They have their bad apples, but you should not let the radical extremists color your judgment of them. My father would tell me of his time in Iraq and Afghanistan and how the average Muslims would tell them about how Bin Laden and the terrorists had gotten everything wrong, and that what they did was not Islam and was not in line with Islam.

“It’s all wrong,” my Dad quoted one of his workers as saying. The time my father spent over there is part of the reason that I decided to dig into it, I wanted to know more about the time he spent over there. So, I hope I didn’t bore you all too much with my ramblings. As for me? Well, I might come back to WDDIJ in the future if my life ever winds down. Right now I’m grinding full-speed ahead in an accelerated college program. Eight week term after eight week term with only short breaks in between. Besides that, I am also a self-published author and am currently working on my own Historical Fantasy novel, all of which wouldn’t have been possible without WDDIJ. WDDIJ gave me the confidence I needed to get out there and put my thoughts into writing, to make them open to the public instead of just keeping them to myself. I have a mouth now, thanks to  THE Ruthless Wonder and Words Don’t Do It Justice.

A Fond Farewell

A Fond Farewell

Well, this is the last you will hear from me. It might be for good, it might just be temporary, I don’t know yet. It’s been a privilege to be able to express the things that rattled around in my head. I’m grateful to Ruthless for giving me an audience and a medium where I could express my thoughts. Unfortunately, with my schedule soon to be packed with writing I’ll be pretty busy.  So, without further ado, I present to you my final ramblings. This place will get on just fine without me,k so, farewell all you crazy readers.

Cuba

So, let’s talk about Cuba for a minute. The Cold War has been over for awhile now and it seems that the United States is finally willing to get around to normalizing relations with Cuba — good, it’s about time. I don’t understand why the Republican’s are up in a furor over the fact that we traded 3 Cuban “:spies” to get one American back, but these are the some geniuses that  if we didn’t get the American released would have cried that the President didn’t care about American’s. It’s a bit of a hilarious Catch 22 situation if you’re the President; you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Sure, Casto wasn’t the nicest of guys but we still have normalized relations with plenty of other autocratic despots, the only difference is that Cuba sided with the Soviet Union during the Cold War and for whatever reason America has this super aversion to communism — I’ve never quite fully understood why we as American’s hate communists just for being communists, it seemed pretty pointless to me, and the restrictions America has imposed on Cuba are just absurd at this point in time.

It is definitely time to let bygones be bygones and just let things get away from the toxicity that has been America’s foreign relations. We need more friends in the world, not less. We need to stop hanging onto grudges and stop acting like we’re so star spangled awesome that we’re above the rest of the international community. No, giving 3 Cubans up for 1 American is not a bad deal. English Law has been heavily weighed by Blackstone’s Foundation, which states:

It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer

The same concept generally applies in this situation. Sure, the 3 Cubans might have legitimately been spies, and Alan Gross had legitimately not been one, than there is no argument in my mind that we should have done whatever possible to let him go — even if that means letting 3 enemy spies go. It isn’t the first time we’ve swapped spies, anyways.

North Korea

So, North Korea dictates Hollywood now. It’s a little sad, because I was looking forward to seeing The Interview because it looked funny but I suppose I can say farewell to that as well. Is that the situation we have come to? That every anonymous threat of terror is capable of bringing our country to its knees? That we bend the knee to the lunacy of North Korea and its childishly deluded dictator?

Incase you missed it, in light of the cyber attack on Sony Pictures and threats received, Movie Theater chains have backed out on showing The Interview so Sony has cancelled the planned release of the movie. Likewise, a move called Pyongyang that was in production by FOX has essentially died on the vine in lieu of these situations. At what point in time do we consider a cyberattack like this an act of war? That is where policy is steadily heading, and I believe the United States of America has already reserved the right to respond to a cyberattack with real military force.

I don’t really have much more to say on this other than that it is utterly absurd that we are so paralyzed in fear that we now allow North Korea to dictate what we can and cannot see. Is anyone seriously expecting North Korea to make good on whatever threats these theaters have received? I doubt it would happen, but oh well.

Ukraine

I was thankfully wrong in the Ukraine — don’t get me wrong, the Republican’s made good on my prediction of trying to shoehorn military aid to the Ukrainian military but I was wrong in the sense that it doesn’t seem like we’ll actually be getting involved in a war there. Sending the Ukrainian Government  Military Weapons would only throw us into another Cold War esque proxy war with Russia — hey guys, do you remember how fun those were?

Thankfully, however, the Russian economy is steadily buckling beneath the weight of crippling economic sanctions, proving once and for all that you actually can accomplish something without bombs. Russia has few choices open to it at this moment — the only way for the sanctions to be lifted is for Russia to withdraw its support from the Eastern Ukraine, and that really seems to be the only way that Russia will survive due to the fact that oil prices are toppling down. Sure, Putin might have gotten a nice public opinion boost but I’m pretty sure he can say farewell to that once Russians start asking why they’re in breadlines again over the Eastern Ukraine.

If Putin had half a brain, he would abandon his dreams of rebuilding the Russian Empire and leave Ukraine alone. This isn’t the 1800s, there is no way Russia is economically viable in a global economy. The only way the USSR survived as an economic entity was because of the intricate closed-market economy developed between Russia and all of its USSR satellites — without that network, the Russian Federation has no chance of surviving economic isolation as noted by the fact that their economy is already nose diving.

Iraq

I don’t have much to say about Iraq except “I told you so”. We’re already beginning to see the involvement of Untied States troops in ground combat. Just recently ISIS attempted to overrun a base in Iraq which played host to 100 US Military advisers. Those 100 US Military Advisers thoroughly wrecked the ISIS forces and forced them into a retreat.

Unfortunately, attacking a base with US Servicemen on it is like walking up to a bear and poking it with a stick. You can bet your shiny stars that American’s are already getting their shitkicking boots ready for Iraq War 3: ISIS Boogaloo. I doubt we’ll allow the fact that they actively tried to kill American’s go unpunished, because we do so love to be vengeful.

We might not see it in the coming weeks or months, but you have a story of how 100 US Servicemen broke the back of an ISIS Attack — it’ll be hard to argue those results and it’ll get even tougher to argue why aren’t we actively fighting ISIS on the ground as time drags on and more lives are lost.

 

So, that’s it for me. See you later, space cowboy. I bid thee adieu.

Sometimes being right sucks.

Sometimes being right sucks.

That isn’t something you’ll hear many people say, but it’s true. Sometimes you look at things and you know how it’s going to play out, so you make a prediction. Sometimes it’s good to be right, other times it sucks. This is one of the times when being right sucks. See, nobody wins over me being right on this issue and it has done nothing but proven just how utterly screwed we all must be. I know what you must be saying “But Revanchist, what were you right about?”.

Well, to be simple, everything I talked about last week. You see, not only is the war in the Ukraine revving up once more with reports that Russia is moving heavy weapons and troops into Eastern Ukraine again but a report from the Pentagon came out that says the U.S Mission to combat Iraq would most likely require boots on the ground in Iraq again.

Sure, Obama said he wouldn’t put troops on the ground but I’m sure we all knew that was going to fly out the window sooner or later. We pushed ISIS but no matter how hard we pushed them with the air campaign, it wasn’t enough to stem the rising tide. Can we ever stem this tide? I don’t think so, I think we made a mistake in 2003 when we first invaded Iraq. I was right in that regard, as well. Without the Tyranny of Saddam holding the country together the only thing our foray into Iraq has given us is a new breed of jihadists. How did it happen? Well, alot of the people that joined ISIS were just children when the United States invaded Iraq. Right or wrong, those Children grew up in the worst possible of environments and they had a clear name to point fingers at for why their world sucked so bad.

Was eliminating Saddam necessary? Probably,  but I do not think it was the right course of action to take. We eliminated the lesser of two evils, it seems. Sometimes the devil you know is better than the one you don’t, I’m not sure how we thought this would somehow be different, that after we toppled Saddam the entire country would forget about centuries old grudges and ethnic ties. You cannot impose a western mentality on a country like Iraq, where loyalty lies more to ones tribe than it does to a unified concept of a country. How could we expect them to see that we were the right ones when all those young children saw was the devastation brought by American bombs and American soldiers?

So, while I was right, I take no joy in it. American citizens are once again going to spill their blood in a foreign country. In retrospect, it is kind of absurd. Today, people who were just children when the Iraq war began are getting ready to pick up the fight. Over ten years have passed since we invaded Iraq in what was a conflict that was supposed to end in just a month — a fact that seems almost like a joke eleven years down the line, when an entirely new generation of Americans are going to be dying for a war that was started by their fathers.

When Herbert Hoover said “Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.” I don’t think he ever predicted that it would come to a situation like this. On one side, we have the disillusioned youth of Iraq and Syria who watched their country torn to shreds by foreign interests who picked up the flag of rebellion and religious extremism versus the children of the conquerors. Much as the conflict in Palestine continues to breed new generations of religious zealots, I have no doubt that the continued conflict in Iraq will continue to create new generations of Jihadists.

As of this moment, the war against ISIS costs $300,000 an hour to fight and that is before we actually deploy any sort of real manpower. We all knew from the beginning that this war was going to be one we could not win with air power alone, and anyone else who thought otherwise I would call hopelessly optimistic. There is still hope, though. Write your congressmen, tell them you are opposed to another ground war in Iraq. It might work, but I doubt it — America has already made their vote when they elected warhawks, I only hope that they made the right one.

Speaking of voting, it isn’t even like a majority of American’s voted the Republicans in on principal. The truth of the matter is that the country only had a 36% voter turnout, the worst this country has had in nearly 72 years. That is the problem with our country, it isn’t that we cannot make the right decisions just that we no longer care enough to try. To those of you who believe your political apathy does not hurt the country, I can only shake my head at you and sigh. You do yourself and your country a great disservice when you do not vote — it is by majority that these people are supposed to be elected, not by 36%. So, maybe we won’t actually end up with another war in Iraq, because at this point I’m hoping that I’m wrong.

– The Revanchist

War

War

Si vis pacem, para bellum. An ancient saying which, for those of you unaware, translates to “If you want peace, prepare for war” and unfortunately, it seems that war is once again starting to rear its ugly head. To be frank, we’ve never really gotten a break from war. With the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq finally drawing to a close after so many years and so many deaths it seems that American’s are willing to once more send our troops unto the breach.

How so? Well, conflict in Iraq is revving up with the addition of a Syrian problem that President Obama had desired to end before it began (only to be shut down by popular opinion, Russia, and the Republicans) and now it is his fault that ISIS spawned out of it. To be fair, there wasn’t alot he could do though he did seem like he was ready and willing to pull the trigger at one point. Of course, Russia has proven to be a most hilarious and belligerent member of the world community with their recent foray into Ukrainian politics in a most uninvited manner.

So what changed? Well, you can probably start preparing for the inevitability of boots on the ground because the War Hawks are in power and their mouths are salivating with glee. I find it most humorous that when the POTUS was willing to act on Syria, the American public was almost entirely against it but now that ISIS has appeared as a direct result of the Syrian conflict and American’s have died because of it the public finds themselves upset that the POTUS did not do more to stop it. What did you want him to do? He wanted to intervene in Syria and you all sent him a clear message that you didn’t want it — he acted upon the will of the people at the time and because of that we now have the fustercluck of the century brewing on our hands. So, what is he to do now? Send troops in? Probably.

While I remain a firm moderate, something more happened this election day than just the republicans winning. No, American Exceptionalists saw a greater victory this election than anyone else. What are American Exceptionalists? Well, they are known by many names but primarily they are the War Hawk Neocons of the Republican Party such as good old John McCain. These are the same people with so much campaign money tied up in defense industry lobbyists that they can want nothing more than war. They will achieve their goals, hell, it’s almost inevitable at this point. John McCain who is expected to become the next chairman of the senate armed forces committee has already expressed his desire to send weapons to the embattled Ukrainian government as well as to look into broadening the war against ISIS.

In the short time I have been actively studying the politics in America I find an almost amusing trend in how people vote, assuming they even vote. They often yell and scream about how they want change before ultimately reverting to the same style of government they had before they fought so hard to change it, but beyond that, when America wants to go to war it seems that we always elect Republican. For instance, October saw a rise in the willingness of American’s to send troops on the ground in Iraq in Syria, up to 45% vs the 38% of September. Likewise, 71% of American’s polled believe that we should send ground troops in if ISIS attacks any America facilities in Baghdad.

As we see the public consciousness drift more toward accepting of a future war, we also saw them vote in surprising numbers for Republican candidates who had war hawk tendencies. I am no psychic, so I cannot predict what the future holds but the incoming Hawks have already pledged to ramp up that good ol’ Nationalism we all used to know and love from the days of yore. Indeed, McCain has not only spoken about sending American weapons to the Ukrainian Government and broadening the efforts to combat ISIS but there has also been talk about China and its incursions into the South China Sea. While I am a moderate, I am deeply worried that the effort we expended over the past six years to repair the image of our country is going to be flushed down the drain. The sending of weapons to Ukraine will escalate tension between the United States and Russia, and sending ground forces into Iraq and Syria once more will only reignite a war we had finally closed the books on. Infact, I can go so far as to wager that sending American troops into Iraq and Syria would only bolster the ranks of ISIS because Iraqi tribal leaders have, for the most part, made it clear that they do not want American’s to be fighting in Iraq again.

I am not sure what it is with the American fascination of returning to the same things we fought so hard to change, like a battered spouse that returns to their abuser we seem willing to repeat the same mistakes in the hope that the outcome will somehow be different. Call me a sensationalist, but the ramp-up of propaganda lately has been quite noticeable. No longer do the United States Marines encourage you to ‘run to the sounds of chaos’, but rather to essentially run to help those who cannot help themselves, a clear change in tone given the ongoing conflict against ISIS as well a justification that any combat we do is precipitated by the need to defend innocent lives. I wasn’t kidding when I said you could expect American soldiers to be deployed back into Iraq in the next 10 years. I have already heard reports from individuals within the military that I am friends with who have stated essentially that their units are being prepared to possibly deploy to Iraq.

So, that is my rambling for the day. I cannot predict the future, but I know the signs of a country revving up to go to war and with the public’s opinion gradually shifting more toward accepting it you can pretty much bet your bright stars that the war hawks we’ve recently elected to power will be more than happy to capitalize on it.

So yeah, I am the Revanchist. Same bat place, different bat time. Sorry if you’ve missed me, I had a bunch of bullshit going on in life that we’re just not even going to talk about. Until next week.

Sic luceat lux.

The Letter Series: Dear Propagandists

To those of you who create the narrative that encourages and promotes war and crimes against humanity; the likes of which we should never condone in so-called civilized society, I implore you to quiet your rantings. Usurpers

The propaganda machine is running hot; every day there’s a new report or seeminglyWar is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. ~ The Ministry of Propaganda ~ random newly discovered factoid that just has to be discussed right away. There are terrorist cells hiding in every Mosque and no Westernized nation is safe. All of the freedoms and liberties that we have sacrificed in favor of a false sense of security is precariously hanging off the proverbial shoulders of our war-weary nation… a waste? The evil doers are laying in wait to kidnap and behead our citizens, and apparently, even after they have gone to hell, we’re supposed to follow them there… I guess to make sure they stay dead this time… which (news flash) they never do.

Tonight, on the eve of what has become one of the most important days in American, if not international history, our President addressed the nation, and basically said that we will be going to war with ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq also known as ISIL), that we won’t be committing our men and women in uniform to ground-based combat, and that we’ll be helping to save the lives of thousands of people and potential people. Do you feel safer Propaganda-pushers? How about you Citizens of the World; do you feel safer? Do you feel like freedom and democracy for all is being protected?

Here’s the thing, we can seek out and destroy every terrorist, foreign and domestic, and there will always only be more terrorists to seek out and destroy. Claiming that we can somehow use war to quell the voices of extremists, again, foreign and domestic, is a dangerous lie to tell. The whole reason there is an ISIS to worry about is because of the war we just walked away from not even 3 years ago. The reason we ended up fighting that and the war in Afghanistan is because of the time before that that we engaged Saddam Hussein. War doesn’t solve anything.

Now, I’m no fool. I’m not all kittens and cuddles with rose-colored glasses expecting us to hug it out with the crazies singing kumbaya. They don’t make a peace pipe big enough to quell that many centuries of cultural rage. All I’m saying is that suggesting that somehow rallying the troops and getting the populace all angry and scared isn’t going to solve the problem either. This is one of this situations where we really are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t; if for no other reason than because of the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns. So…

Dear propagandists,
Shut up. You aren’t helping. Things are hard enough to figure out without you trying to push your agenda on us every minute of every day. Get yourselves a different life. Require yourselves to be better, because let’s face it, right now you suck hairy, sweaty, sandy, terrorist balls, and they’re supposedly not into that sort of thing.

Say less. Do more. Require better.

Ministry of Propaganda plaque

Iraq Part II

 

 Iraq Revisited

As you may or may not be presently aware, America has taken a sudden policy change in the past day regarding the situation in Iraq. Our original plan was one of simply allowing the local militias and the Iraqi Army to do what they could to organize and push ISIS back, while giving the Iraqi Government the chance to, well, form a functioning government as they have been long overdue in doing. It seemed like a good plan, it wasn’t America’s fight anymore after Iraq had specifically asked the United States to essentially depart the country.

This policy changed yesterday — even while the Christians in Iraq were being persecuted, their holy places being destroyed; while the Shiites and others who did not conform to ISIS will suffered, America remained staunchly divested in getting involved in the conflict. There wasn’t enough popular support to warrant Obama dedicating any real military force to Iraq, especially not after leaving Iraq was one of the hallmarks of his presidency. So what changed? Well, ISIS began to encroach upon Kurdistan and the Peshmerga, for the first time, tasted defeat at the hands of ISIS.

The Peshmerga, for the record, is the defense force of Kurdistan who are nominally considered of higher quality than the forces of the Iraqi Army due to the fact that the Peshmerga have essentially existed as a standing army since the early nineties and never went through the dramatic upheaval that Iraq’s military did in the wake of the United States invasion — infact, the Peshmerga helped us invade Iraq by pushing down from the North.

Now, defeated, the Peshmerga retreated and left some odd 200,000 people fleeing…50,000 of which are the ethnically Kurdish members of the Yazidi religion, who are considered apostates by ISIS. Now, The Yazidi faith is something sort of original to Iraq, as it is neither an off-shoot of Christianity or Islam, but essentially a religion all of its own.  The Yazidi religion is marginally linked to Zoroastrianism and is essentially pretty unique considering its position in Iraq, and it is a faith practiced mainly by the Kurds.  These 50,000 Kurds retreated into the Mountains where they were encircled by the Islamic militants and left without food or water, which resulted in this stirring little number:
15997_10152412444474442_7515641352644815642_n

 

Evidently the people of Gaza are the wrong shade of brown for the American government, who suddenly cannot turn a blind eye to the imminent massacre facing the Kurdish people — but at relatively the same time, have no problem with supplying the means with which Israel waged its devastating war upon Gaza. A little fact about Gaza, it is one of the most densely populated regions in the world and it is nearly impossible to avoid civilian casualties with the types of military exercises that Israel conducts against the Palestinians, while similarly the rockets which Hamas launches at Israel are typically ineffectual due to the various means of defense that Israel maintains. It is a disproportionate response, really,  and there is no way to truly justify the extent at which Israel chooses to wage its war.

The Importance of Kurdistan in Iraq

So why the difference? Well, mainly because of political ties. President Obama has authorized U.S Airstrikes on targets that begin to approach Erbil, and there is a very simple reason for that. I hate to sound like a broken record with this all, but when it comes to Iraq Kurdistan is essentially America’s step-child. They were stabilized before the rest of Iraq was and have recently begun means to increase their oil output greatly. President Obama’s choice of words, however, were bound to be lampooned when he has thus far ignored every other massacre taking place in Iraq and even basically helped support the prolonged violence in Gaza by funding the Israeli’s and not taking a strong stance against them.

Why would he do all of this? Well, if I were him, I would honestly do the same thing. Kurdistan, for what it is worth, generally loves America. We enforced a no-fly zone in order to protect them from Saddam and we have given them the means to lift themselves up as well. But, in the long run, American policy makers likely see Kurdistan as the last bastion of stability in Iraq. There isn’t much that can be done for the rest of the country, as American’s are leery about helping al-Maliki after he accepted help from Iran, whom America has essentially engaged in a massive vendetta with over certain issues include taking hostages in the seventies.

It makes sense, then, that when the militants were threatening to encroach upon Baghdad that the Americans hardly shrugged, but when the prospect that the Peshmerga might not be able to hold ISIS off became a reality that America would suddenly become more actively involved. You would do well to notice that these authorized airstrikes basically say nothing about the rest of Iraq, only the Kurdish capital of Erbil.  So what is the big deal? Well, the rest of Iraq can essentially go to hell in a handbasket for all America cares. If the region remains destabilized, the Islamic extremists will be too busy fighting over there to bother come fight us on our own territory. We’d rather fight them abroad than deal with another attack on American civilians.

Kurdistan, however, is something America cannot afford to lose. We will defend about with the same zeal we would likely defend Israel, but for different reasons. If Iraq does indeed continue down the path of sectarian divide that it is heading, it is important for America to align itself with probably the best situated regional power. Kurdistan is already stabilized, and any state established by the Islamic State would never be recognized by the United States, and we don’t seem keen to deal with a Shiite dominated Iranian Puppet government — but Kurdistan is, and has always been, our steadfast friends. They have oil which is shipped through a pipeline through Turkey, also America’s friends.

You can see where this is leading, right? We protect Kurdistan because Kurdistan is our best bet in the region. The imminent massacre was just a convenient rallying cry to give them the excuse necessary to move in and begin to protect Kurdistan. After all, Kurdistan is already stable, we have good ties with them, and they produce Oil. There’s no point in trying to cozy up with whoever makes it out ontop of the Civil War in Iraq when we’re already cozy with Kurdistan…Except we can’t remain cozy with them if ISIS overruns Erbil and absorbs Kurdistan into their ‘caliphate’.

Life is all about business.

Where does that leave Gaza? Still up shit-creek without a paddle, really. America doesn’t have any real interest in protecting innocent lives, its just a colourful lie that our politicians sell the people of the country in order to get their approval rates up. It’s all about business, and America’s biggest business is with Israel. There are so many lucrative arms deals happening between America and Israel that it is an entirely different can of worms all together.

Where does this leave Iraq? In an interesting position — the only reason ISIS moved toward Kurdistan is because the Iraqi military had succeeded nominally in finally rebuffing their advances toward Baghdad due in part to the help of the Mahdi Army, the Iranian advisers, and Sunni tribal leaders who got sick of ISIS. If America blocks ISIS’s advance toward Kurdistan via sustained aerial bombardment, their only avenue of approach is to go for the rest of Iraq again…Which generally doesn’t spell good things for the future of the rest of Iraq.

Sorry it’s shorter than usual, but I’m tired. I’ve had a long week personally getting ready for class and helping my sibling move into a new place.

Until next time.

 

Lets Talk Iraq

You might notice I dropped my usual header, well, I have a category now so it isn’t really necessary for me to throw it up there anymore. I’ve talked about Palestine in my last post because it is an issue somewhat close to me, considering one of my best friends who helped me through the hard times happens to be a Palestinian-American, and I have listened to him countless times talk of the problems and the struggles the Palestinian people face. Hamas is definitely not a good group of guys, but Palestinian’s themselves shouldn’t have to suffer unjustly because of terrorists. But, we’re not going to talk about Palestine today on I Have No Mouth, But I Must Scream; no no, today we are going to be talking about another hotbed of extremism in recent years, Iraq.

Some think it is hard to pinpoint where exactly everything went wrong with Iraq — honestly, I’m not entirely sure myself how to explain it all, but I’ll do my best to give you the abridged version of modern Iraq. Iraq is a complicated beast and is another country that is similar in nature to Palestine in that it shares its origin as a British Mandate. Originally, the British had installed a Sunni King and shit was relatively alright under his rule for a time until a bunch of revolts later and Iraq would find itself in the hands of one Saddam Hussein.

The Abridged History of Iraq

As you may already be aware, Saddam Hussein was a dictator, a crazy dictator who ruled Iraq with an iron grip. He was genocidal toward the Kurds and oppressive to the Shiite  who had both tried to side against him at the behest of the newly formed Islamic Republic of Iran. This lead to a war between Iraq and Iran, in which America publicly supported Iraq by supplying Saddam with money and weapons while also covertly supporting Iran via the CIA. This eventually blew up in the governments face and came to life as the Iran-Contra Affair. Likewise, recently declassified documents reveal that America sold Iraq a whole bunch of “dual purpose” items, which is to say we sold them chemicals that could be used for chemical warfare and insecticide; viruses and bacteria that could be used for medicine, but could also be used for biological warfare. Yeah, we knew what Saddam was going to use them for but we still did it, because we hated revolutionary Iran about as much as we did Iraq.

The American’s would turn against Saddam after some shady business involving Kuwait and the fact that America basically liked Kuwait better. To clarify, America never really liked Iraq we just didn’t want Iran’s counter-attack to lead to a complete surrender from Iraq, it was preferable for America that the war between the two drag on as long as possible. Anyways, we made a big fuss about Iraq using chemical weapons (that we gave them) on the Kurds and a few trumped up media reports (that later came out to be lies) about the treatment of Kuwait’s citizens and we had ourselves a country  fully justified in going to war. We went to war, we kicked Saddam’s ass, but George Bush Sr. stopped just short of actually seizing Baghdad and dethroning Saddam.

The frequent oppression of the Kurds by the Iraqi’s during both of these periods of time lead to Iraqi Kurdistan becoming a major partner to the United States and an enemy of Saddam. The entire northern most half of Iraq was essentially sealed off and declared Kurdistan with an American enforced No Fly Zone. This allowed Kurdistan to flourish. Likewise, America had earned itself a permanent military base in the Middle East conveniently located on the border of Iraq by helping Kuwait.

You can see the building blocks falling into place, right? The Sunni leaders of Iraq oppressed the Shiite majority. Now, a majority of the population of Iraq adheres to the Shiite faith and thus tried to revolt against Saddam’s rule shortly after the First Gulf War. Iraq responded with crushing repression and more of that lovely chemical gas we sold them. Anyways, so things were never really all that great for Iraq, even under the rule of the Sunni King the Shiite majority were oppressed.

Fast-forward several years and we’ve got another Bush in office who leads America into a valiant War on Iraq in order to disarm Iraq of WMDs. We know now that the British intelligence on the issue was bunk, and that the only real credible evidence we had that Iraq had any WMDs anymore was simply because America knew we had sold Iraq the stuff for chemical and biological weapons back in the good ole days when we were hoping that Iran and Iraq would kill each other off for us. The war is a joke as Saddam’s military was hardly capable of mounting any sort of real defense against America, who has become awfully fond of Blitzkrieg since World War II.

Where it Leads Us

There. I have hopefully given you an adequate enough abridged history of Iraq to hopefully explain to you with some clarity how the current situation in Iraq developed. After we had occupied the country and the military had surrendered, there was the ever prominent question as to what were we going to do with them? See, despite being a tyrant of hilarious proportions, the Iraqi Military had actually managed to wiggle itself out from complete Ba’ath party rule due to the numerous fuck ups caused by Saddam meddling in the military during the Iraq-Iran War.

While Saddam was a dictator, it is easy to argue that he was the dictator that Iraq needed, not necessarily the leader it deserved. No one is trying to excuse the crimes he committed against his own people, but a State of Iraq did not exist before the British Mandate, and every attempt at governing it prior to Saddam was short and rife with oppression and sectarian strife anyways. The only thing that held Iraq together for as long as it did before Saddam was the interference of outside countries. There was sectarian violence when Saddam was in-charge, yes. There is no denying that Saddam was oppressive to the Shiites, but there is also no arguing that the country has not been worse off since his departure.

America made every misstep and miscalculation that could be made in regards to Iraq. The country was mostly pacified after the initial occupation because despite what people like to believe, the Ba’ath party was actually a secular organization. Yes, Saddam brutally repressed the Shiite Majority but it was incited by the Islamic Revolution in Iran stoking the flames for a similar revolution in Iraq. Likewise, the Iraqi military of Saddam was a mostly secular organization. America’s biggest mistake in the post-war period was the dissolution of the Army in 2003, which suddenly saw several high level generals and thousands of soldiers disgruntled and unemployed.

Honestly, it wasn’t until after the First Gulf War that Shariah Law saw a return to Iraq as Saddam sought to portray himself as a devote Muslim in order to gain regional allies for future issues. The dissolution of the Iraq army would lead to the insurgency that America would be embattled fighting for the next several years. The memory of Sunni rule still fresh in the minds and scars of the Shiites would eventually spark a full-blown civil war following the bombing of one of the Shiite’s holy sites.

Meanwhile, Kurdistan continued to grow and flourish in the North free of Iraqi rule. The Kurdish Self-Defense Force, known as the Peshmerga, even helped the United States during their initial invasion. Kurdistan was able to pull itself together faster than the rest of Iraq had, and security of Iraqi Kurdistan was handed over to the Peshmerga long before it was returned to the rest of Iraq. The sectarian civil war would eventually come to an end, as would America’s occupation of Iraq.

When America had left Iraq, they left behind a fairly competent and secular military force. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister of Iraq  still bore the memories of Ba’athist oppression and of the recently civil war. Fueled by paranoia, the Shiite majority quickly became the oppressors of the Sunni minority as competent military officers were replaced by Shiite cronies, loyal to the Prime Minister, who took on powers that made it so the special forces of Iraq reported directly to him. The United States Troop Withdrawal was mainly prompted by pressure from the Shia ran country of Iran, who basically informed the Prime Minister that the United States would eventually leave Iraq but that Iran would always be its neighbor.

The civil war in Syria saw the perfect brewing ground for the organization once known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq to blossom as the newly fermented ISIS. They would launch an offensive into Iraq and the Iraqi Military, which had been gutted by al-Maliki’s own paranoia of being ousted in a coup. This paranoia and his anti-Sunni policies fueled the success that ISIS was able to gain from this event. Likewise, seeing the country falling about, Kurdistan has talked even more adamantly about total independence from Iraq.

This situation does not seem fixable. There is no strong leadership of Iraq and the Sunni’s, Shiites, and Kurds all share disdain for one another. Will there ever be a stable Iraq? It is doubtful. It seemed more likely that Iraq would become a satellite of Shiite ran Iran, but new reports seem to indicate that al-Maliki has resisted Iranian suggestions that he step down. So…Will the country survive the civil war? Who knows, really.

The better question to ask is should it? Not every country in the world can be a melting pot and with cultures that have as much disdain for each other as these, maybe Iraq would be better represented if it were broken down into a confederation, where a central government provided international security for the whole and allowed the internal sects to govern themselves. I doubt it would work out, but Iraq doesn’t seem like it can manage staying stable without the brutal grip of a dictator.

People often wonder why I describe myself as an Imperialist, or why I seem surprisingly tolerant toward more authoritarian governments. Why? Because some of the most successful, longest lasting governments were dictatorships and Empires. It is hard to see the light of democracy when it disintegrates so quickly into chaos and corruption. Saddam may have violated the civil rights of his people and done terrible things to them, but he also held the country together for twenty four years. Iraqi Citizen’s in Baghdad recalled that they used to not worry so much traveling through the city when it was run by the Ba’ath party, but now that they have been freed from the tyrant, they worry about being shot for simply entering the wrong neighborhood.

There is such a thing as the lesser of two evils, and we were foolish to believe that just giving a country democracy and freedom would unify it and put an end to the plight of the people. If anything, the State of Iraq has suffered more under its independence than it did beneath the dictator. Saddam was an evil man, there is no arguing that, but should be so quick to pass judgment and blame when we were the ones who gave him the means to his tyranny? Could he have gassed the kurds had we not supplied him the chemicals to use on Iranians?  That’s a question we’ll probably never know.

In parting, I will leave you with some words of another slain dictator.

Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy—
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue—
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men.

Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy.
Blood and destruction shall be so in use,
And dreadful objects so familiar,
That mothers shall but smile when they behold Their infants quartered with the hands of war

I am not saying that Saddam stands on the same level of the man for which this text speaks, but I will point out that by modern standards Gaius Julius Caesar would be held to the same contempt which Saddam was. Both were oppressive tyrants, and both were killed for their sins. Likewise, civil war followed immediately in the wake of their death. You see, that is the problem with history. It tends to pay homage to itself and those in charge seldom believe the same tragedies could befall them. Just as Hitler believed he could invade Russia where others had failed previously, so too did America believe we could topple a dictatorship and that democracy would simply flourish.

The problem is that life doesn’t work that way, neither does the world. The death of Saddam and the fall of the Ba’ath party led to those that wished to re-establish the Ba’ath party, likewise, the people which had been wronged by Saddam sought revenge for the crimes enacted upon their people by the people of Saddam. The problem? If Saddam had been left in power, Iraq would have never crumbled to the state it has. At what point do we hold the scale in measure of the lives lost under Saddam to the lives lost without the tyrant?

Only time will tell how Iraq fares in the future, but so far the prospects of an in-tact Iraq surviving seem bleak at best. If nothing else, I deeply hope that we learn our lesson that we cannot just take sections of land an arbitrarily carve borders into them and then proclaim who shall govern it. How different would Iraq be today if the British Mandate had installed a Shiite leader? What if the British Mandate had installed a democracy that had allowed the people to vote for self-determination, rather than installing a king? The world may never know, but Iraq might have had a chance to flourish as Babylon of old had.