Sunday, June 29, 2014

Iraq

Mostly I have avoided writing about Iraq's ongoing catastrophe. Naturally there is plenty of blame to go around for it's disintegration, most recently for it's idiot president, who ran a corrupt, sectarian government and rejected every attempt to compromise with the Sunnis.

Obama's dilatory behavior regarding Syria deserves a share of blame as well. By cheering on the Syrian revolt, implicitly promising aid, but never delivering, he helped fashion the conditions under which the fanatical fundamentalists of ISIS wound up in the driver's seat. If nothing else, Libya should have been a clue. Rebels were getting destroyed until NATO blasted Gaddafi's military columns, and the country has since disintegrated. Of course all the idiots in Congress, and especially G. W. Bush, for destabilizing an already unstable Iraq.

So what can, or should, the US do?

The Middle East has the longest history of the world, and it's been a fractious one, with peace happening only when one empire or another kept it. Its long economic and cultural decline was abruptly disturbed at the dawn of the Twentieth Century with the discovery of oil, enormous amounts of it, in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Sudden wealth has a well deserved reputation for damaging the lives of the recipients, especially when it is in some sense unearned, and that was the case with oil. Europeans and Americans found the oil, developed it, and figured out to use and market it. The disruption to the largely tribal local societies was catastrophic. Greed and corruption flourished.

If Iraq and its neighbors had lacked oil, they would probably be largely beneath the notice of the World powers of this century or the last. Of course they would also be primitive subsistence societies, living much the way they did 1000 years ago.