So I was asked...
posted 1/24/2015 2:06:42 PM
...what I think about the crises in the Middle East.
I hope the guy who asked me doesn't mind if I use the 6000 characters here instead of PMs, and if everyone who wants to comment can.
I want to begin by declaring my biases. I am an American and must view things from the perspective of American interests. We live in a global economy and what happens in the Middle East affects the entire globe, and the US will inevitably be helped or harmed disproportionately due to the extreme integration of the US with the globe. It is possible that American interests are not in line with your own, but this should not be taken as a challenge: the drone on station above your house is the challenge.
Ok. Iraq and Syria.
The US made two big mistakes in Iraq. I don't think invading them was a mistake. Rogue states sitting astride one of the centers of oil extraction should not be tolerated by the great powers of the world. The first big mistake was in training the Iraqi Army. Rather than employ proper training practices, the US engaged infantrymen, artillerymen, random combat support personnel and whathaveyou as trainers. This is a huge mistake in all contexts. A rifleman is very good at his job, and training is not his job. Training indigenous forces is the job of the Special Forces, and TRADOC. And then we compounded the error by what we trained the IA for. Rather than prepare them for fighting a conventional war, we focused on internal security. Even without hindsight, this should have been recognized as a mistake. When met with a conventional opponent in battle, they broke and ran. And as a result, they've had to have their asses saved by the Kurds, whom the Iraqis have been trying to kill for 50 years.
Second mistake, our war in Iraq was coincided by a diplomatic offensive against the second most powerful state in the region: Iran. Not that Iran was terribly interested in supporting US actions, by making them an enemy we opened the door for vast amounts of money to make its way to opposition forces. This opened the door for 3rd parties to benefit.
These forces had long used Syria as a home base. Assad turned a blind eye. But when the opportunity arose, many of these forces expanded their operations from Iraq to Syria. And so we come to Daesh.
I won't proclaim a judgement on the revolts of Arab Spring. Syria wasn't an opportunity for a principled stand for Daesh, but a fundraising opportunity. While the civil war isn't a result of the US in Iraq, Daesh is. As long as Daesh can keep war going, more money comes in. And so they changed sides whenever they needed to. Let's be plain: if it wasn't for Daesh the Syrian Civil War would be over, one way or the other. When Daseh and the FSA broke in January of last year, Daseh got another year of fundraising.
So how to we fix the situation?
Under other circumstances, I would not consider an independent Kurdistan to be a solution to anything. My biggest concern is that they'd go ahead and try and get Kurdish territory in Iran and Turkey. But...two things: this is not an ordinary circumstance, and Kurdistan is going to have its hands full for quite some time. So, Kurdistan is the way out of this.
I think Syria and Iraq can be saved. Yes, they're "artificial" states, but all states begin that way. The only real difference between France and Iraq is that France is 1000 years old and Iraq is 83. It takes time for a nation to form.
Obama's objective to "degrade and destroy" Daesh is stupidity. Has Israel been able to "destroy" Hamas? Has the US been able to "destroy" the Taiban? Has Russia been able to "destroy" their indigenous Islamist groups? No. You can't destroy a political movement in war.
So, what do we do. Contain Daesh and make it irrelevant. Give the Kurds our blessing to make their own state out of northern Iraq. I know people are going to be upset with this: but Assad isn't going anywhere and he's still going to control Syria after the Civil War is over. The US needs to bring him in on the campaign against Daesh.
We embrace the friendship between Iran and Iraq, and stop this crap with Iran's nuclear power program. Iran is going to get nukes, one way or the other. And, frankly, people aren't going to like this, but Israel needs a check. For fifty years, Israel was alone versus the Arab world. But even with some shakiness between Israel and Egypt as of late, they're still friendly with everyone except Assad and Iran. The "Israel versus the world" mentality is now one of the greatest destabilizing forces. Nothing assures peace like nuclear arms. The world since 1945 has been the most peaceful in all of human history. Between the rise of the West as global powers in the 17th century and 1945, the world had seen dozens of global conflicts. And none since. Small wars are better than large wars. Peace in the Middle East must be premised on a balance of power, not by the dominance of a single power. Or else any peace would not last.
With an independent Kurdistan, a unified Syria, and a rump Iraq backed by Iran, Daesh can be contained.
And with stability can come prosperity and that erodes support for insurgents, until it is irrelevant, and then it will eventually go away.
It can go away a number of ways. It can moderate and join a government, like the Philippine Insurrection or Muslim Brotherhood parties. It can be ignored until it disbands because no one cares, like the Basques. Or it can be ignored until it becomes irrelevant in its anger, like the Red Brigades in Italy.
I am almost out of characters, continued below.