Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why we are in Iraq and why we need to stay

One of my dad's many expressive figures of speech was describing someone as a person who "woke up in a new world every day." This, surprisingly, was not a compliment. It was a way of indicating that a person did not have any wisdom, mature judgment, ability to remember what came before and act accordingly. In short, the person in question was a simpleton - unable to grasp the complexities of life.

On 9/11/07, I wrote: "In my next post, I will explain in the simplest terms exactly why we are in Iraq and why we need to stay." I address this to those who believe they are thoughtful about geo-politics and US foreign policy, but in fact, seem to wake up in a new world every day.

1. The war between Islamic fundamentalism and the US did not begin with the invasion if Iraq in 2003. It began in 1979 when the Iranian revolution took place and the US hostages were taken. For those who forget, the Ayatollah Khomeini was a bad guy of the first order in our view, and his assumption of power in Iran can be compared now to Hitler's "beer hall putsch" - the rise to prominence of an individual who would have far-reaching impact.

2. For more than twenty years, we tried to ignore all the signs. The Islamic fundamentalists were at war with us but we didn't acknowledge it. In retrospect it's hard to understand how we could have just walked away after the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983. A court ruled in 2003 that Iran was responsible for that bombing.

3. The first Gulf War didn't have anything to do with our war against Islamic fundamentalists. As we all know, Saddam Hussein was not a fundamentalist - he was secular, western-looking Sunni - and all he did was over-estimate how far the US would let him go. It was in our interest to make sure Iraq was strong back then, but not too strong. Iraq was our ally as a counter to Iran.

Through the 1980s and 1990s, we looked the other way, or retaliated in small, politically-safe ways, when Muslim fundamentalists took over governments and Americans were attacked in other parts of the world. It was only in 2001, after the 9-11 attacks, that we committed to the inevitable war against the Islamic fundamentalists.

So why invade Iraq if Iran is really the problem? If it takes more than a brief look at this map to get the answer, you're just not trying.

The fact is this: the Administration wanted to attack the larger problem; Iran is a powerful fundamentalist state that funds and inspires people who create the problem; there was no justifiable reason to attack Iran directly, but it was easy to trump up a case against Saddam; we needed strategic positions to isolate Iran; strong presence in Iraq on the west and Afghanistan on the east created that strategic position. I wish our national leaders had possessed the huevos back in 2002-2003 to come out and tell the American people the truth - this is what we need to do, and this is why we need to do it. We'd all be better off today to face up to the facts: we are an empire, and if we want to remain so we have to protect our interests.

Is it about oil? Yes. It's not only about oil, but oil matters a lot. The world economy needs oil, and the US economy needs the world economy, and your job and my job need the US economy, and what's for dinner tonight needs your job and my job.

If you step back and look at the map, and think about the way things work, it's all really simple - even if you wake up in a new world every day.

3 comments:

Scott said...

Facts only cloud our emotions.

Remember how you felt on 9/11 when Sadaam and his weapons of mass destruction attacked us?

Remember how defiant Saddam was to UN inspectors.

We had discovered yellow-caked uranium with ties to Iraq.

Oil you say? Please. I miss Colin Powell.

Barry Martin said...

Scott, my friend, I detect a note of disagreement. Just remember, you are entitled to your opinion no matter how wrong it may be. XXOO.

Madison said...

Barry, I completely agree with your comment about how the government should have told us the true reasons for being over in the Middle East. Yet, why is it our job to isolate Iran? We are not the world police, and we are not a 'world' empire. If Iraq is such a big problem, Iran is posing such a big threat, and if the economy has such a big need for oil why is the U.S. the only nation over there? We have the largest forces in Iraq,and we seem to be the only nation trying to come up with some type of excuse to attack Iran. Why shouldn't we step out and let some other nation come in? We are not the world police, and we have no right to invade a country that poses no immediate threat to us.