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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Maureen Dowd, "The Pungent Aroma of Paranoia": An "Acceptable Ending" to the War in Iraq?

In her latest New York Times opinion piece, "The Pungent Aroma of Paranoia" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/18/opinion/sunday/dowd-the-pungent-aroma-of-paranoia.html?_r=1&ref=opinion), Maureen Dowd would have us believe that Obama and Biden have brought the war in Iraq to an "acceptable ending":

"You’d never know it, given Republicans’ churlish silence and unseemly sniping, but the president and the vice president have stumbled and bumbled their way to an acceptable ending to the war that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney so recklessly started."

I opposed the Second Gulf War, given the likelihood that it would upset the delicate equilibrium of power between Saddam in Iraq and the mullahs in Iran, but will we now see an "acceptable ending"? I doubt it. I anticipate renewed fighting among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, and that Iraq's 400,000 Christians will soon begin a mass exodus from the country.

The door has also been opened for Iran to expand its sphere of influence, as evidenced by Ahmadinejad's plans to visit Iraq's Kurdistan Region "to discuss the nature of border problems between both sides and to develop bilateral trade relations" (http://www.ekurd.net/mismas/articles/misc2011/11/state5601.htm). This is all the more remarkable given Iran's history of persecuting its own Kurdish minority.

As acknowledged by Dowd:

"The White House knows that, while politics has broken out in Iraq, there are multiple flashpoints in the next year that, if not controlled, could blow up and bring down the precarious house of cards. They can only pray that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki keeps his promises about Iran. And that, before some firefight between rival groups spins out of control, the various Iraqi tribes consider the costs of pulling the plug."

Sorry to be a pessimist, but you can count on that ugly firefight, which is the only way things get "resolved" in this region. Iraq's Sunni elite will not surrender their socioeconomic power to the Shiite majority, as evidenced what is happening on a micro scale in Bahrain, and the Kurds will fight to the end to preserve their autonomy in the north.

An "acceptable ending"? No way, but perhaps there is no "acceptable ending." Given Iran's provocative behavior of late, which has gone unchecked by Obama, who refuses to sanction the Iranian central bank, the timing of American withdrawal could not be worse; however, as the immortal W.C. Fields once said:

"There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation."

Notwithstanding the sign on the door, "you broke it, you bought it," perhaps it's long past time to hightail out of there, before its costs, combined with those from the inane ground war in Afghanistan, swallow the American economy whole.

1 comment:

  1. My reading of the future of Iraq is slightly different.
    The Northern Kurdish section has enormous reserves of oil and has tasted and enjoyed a greater degree of independence than ever in the past fifty years. The Northern Iraqi Kurds have been the biggest winners in the Iraq war. They have seen material improvements to their lives by setting aside their previously fierce local politics (once bordering on tribal civil war) and they and the West will gain thereby. Their increasing oil production, growing autonomy - economic, military and political is an important buffer against Iran. So today Iran's western outreach has suffered a double blow: Iraqi Kurdistan and the imminent fall of their Syrian Alawite ally. So the Northern Shiite pincer is increasingly weak. As Iran's foreign extension weakens so too its domestic control may weaken. And as all large dying beasts tend to kick out towards the end, it may be at its most dangerous.

    One interesting footnote to all this: ten or even five years ago no one would have given a moment's credence to the possibility of Turkey accepting the presence of an increasingly independent Kurdish entity on its south-eastern border. Given the ever-increasing stability provided by the Kurdish Iraqis, they seem to be regarding this as a tolerable reality.

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