The Bill for the Bugout…

100000dollarsbillreverse…in Iraq may be coming due. The US and Iraq were glad to go their separate ways back in 2011: the Administration had promised a bugout, and Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki, heading a narrowly sectarian Shiite government, figured without the hated Yankees he could get his ethnic cleanse on. But the Sunnis (including a persistent strain of ex-Ba’athists who honed their insurgency skills at American expense, and a separate strain of al-Qaeda Islamists) and Shiites (the most barbaric of whom form two groups: Iranian-inspired and Iranian-controlled) are neither one strong enough to exterminate the other.

Hognose’s Law of Wars of Identity is this: In a War of Identity, where you’re not fighting for some objective like a border or a beachhead, but because of who the other guy fundamentally is,  there are only three possible outcomes:

  1. One side defeats and exterminates the other. (Have you met a Carthaginian lately? The Punic Wars were Wars of Identity, and this is how they ended).
  2. One side defeats and assimilates the other. This was the fate of many Native American nations, for example.
  3. The war reaches an Equilibrium of Violence at a level of conflict that is acceptable to both sides. Examples of this are too many to count.

A war of identity does not end with a negotiated settlement, usually. That is just a period in which the parties agree to set the Equilibrium of Violence bar a little bit lower.

The identity need not be of very long standing, as long as it is believed with heart and soul. “Hutus” and “Tutsis” are largely artificial creations of 19th Century Belgian colonial administrators, for example. That offers hope that Wars of Identity can be resolved then, because they can be stirred up at relatively short notice.

Iraq is the latest battleground in the War of Identity between Shia and Sunni strains of Islamic militancy, a war that’s persisted since the 7th Century, even as both strains occasionally make common cause against kufr (infidels) and practitioners of shirk (polytheism, which to a moslem includes Christians). And the Shia that the US put on top — not deliberately so much as through our blind adherence to Wilsonian 14-points academic ideas of good government — have discovered they can’t stay there without US dollars, equipment, aviation, and special operations forces. In the Washington Post:

[V]iolence began creeping up in the capital and across the country as Sunni Muslim insurgents lashed out at Shiites, angered by a widespread belief that Sunnis have been sidelined by the Shiite-led government, and with no U.S. troops to keep them in check.

You have to love the Washington Post / Associated (with terrorists) Press. “Violence” itself is the actor here, the subject, the malevolent force. You certainly can’t blame the people. Heck, it was probably somebody’s “assault rifle” in his gun safe in Wyoming. Don’t verbs have subjects any more in the land of “layers and layers of editors?”

More than 5,000 Iraqis have been killed in attacks since April, and suicide bombers launched 38 strikes in the last month alone.

Again note the bizarre subjects in that sentence. The passive voice mows down unspecified “Iraqis” in windrows, and suicide bombers apparently train, equip, and motivate — as well as “launch” — themselves. Who’s killing whom is apparently not of interest to the writers and editors of the Post. They’re all just being whacked by He Who Shall Not be Named: “Violence.”

In our world, and we have been students and instructors, and yes, deliverers of violence red in fang and claw, the violence itself is never driving the train. It is applied by human beings, for human ends, and treating all violence as alike and eliding its sources and motivations pretty much guarantees you will never understand the conflict.

Al-Maliki is expected to ask Obama for new assistance to bolster its military and fight al-Qaida. [Iraqi Ambassador to the USA Lukman] Faily said that could include everything from speeding up the delivery of U.S. aircraft, missiles, interceptors and other weapons, to improving national intelligence systems. And when asked, he did not rule out the possibility of asking the U.S. to send military special forces or additional CIA advisers to Iraq to help train and assist counterterror troops.

Well, would you volunteer for that mission? For this government, that has been reluctantly giving up the facts of what happened to the last bunch it sent in harm’s way, in Libya, but that apparently wrote them off at the time, then lied about it, and then compounded the lie by openly expressing contempt for the dead? (As the then-Secretary of State spat, “What difference does it make?” that a few expendable security contractors and low-level functionaries are dead). Sure, sign us riiiiight up. Not.

If the U.S. does not commit to providing the weapons or other aid quickly, “we will go elsewhere,” Faily said. That means Iraq will step up diplomacy with nations like China or Russia that would be more than happy to increase their influence in Baghdad at U.S. expense.

Oh, there’s the stick. The carrot is, what, exactly? They’ll pay us for the guns and planes with their oil wealth. Well, fine and good, but we better not sell them anything we’re not ready to face ourselves, because one day we will.

One recalls the answer to the conundrum of the Vietnam War: Identify the friendlies, and put them on ships out to sea. Then nuke the whole place.

Then sink the ships.

It would apply better to Iraq and even better still to Afghanistan.

Our only national interest in either place is that it does not become a nest of terrorists that threaten our interests, or in Iraq’s case, that threatens the world oil supply. (Although the latter is a much larger problem for the Europeans than for us, and it wouldn’t be a problem for us if the same Administration now puzzled by Iraq wasn’t even more bemused by domestic oil and natural gas production.

6 thoughts on “The Bill for the Bugout…

  1. "Greg"

    Well, at least there isn’t any direct math in this article to discuss… (not yet anyway!) And now for a few dissimilar opinions… I dislike the solution of “nuke the whole place” because that is essentially what Syria did in the “Hama massacre” of 1982, * EXCEPT * that the Syrians did not have nukes (and it looks like they did a fairly admirable job with conventional munitions) So… “nuke the whole place” well, yes, I agree it certainly is * ONE * solution although on the other hand, I like to think the USA is better than that… And so, the option of picking the side we like and helping them win (with material support and counter-insurgency training, etc) takes some appearance as a better option (at least, in my opinion) Although most certainly, another Benghazi scandal is a definite occupational hazard for the employee to consider! I want to think that the ruling/elite political hacks are slowly learning that leaving your employees to hang in the breeze is becoming a larger issue that is more likely to blow up in their faces… I speculate that ONE reason air support was not sent to Benghazi was some kind of international fallout (like the Osama Bin Laden strike in Pakistan/risking difficulties with the host country? but again, this is SPECULATION on my part!) and thinking that they could easily sweep any evidence of the “stand down” orders and leaving Americans to die…

  2. Aesop

    A fanatic is someone who can’t change his mind, and won’t change the subject. We have faced religious fanatics who were more than willing to kill themselves for the chance at killing more of us. We explained the consequences to them of making us enemies, by introducing them to what happens when you combine a country that gave the world the talents of Dale Carnegie, Orville Wright, Robert Oppenheimer, and Curtis LeMay.

    They thereafter not only lost their religious fanaticism, they took the lesson conveyed to heart, changed both their minds and the subject, and put their formidable talents to work perfecting automobiles and color televisions.

    Applying the same lesson 70 years later would hardly merit calling a nation bloodthirsty reactionaries, and our current religious fanatic enemies might afterwards find pause to focus their penchant for single-minded determination and their talents at drilling for oil, and apply both hereabouts, which, much like our prior exemplar, could become the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

  3. Y.

    >> practitioners of shirk (polytheism, which to a moslem includes Christians). <<)
    Which moslems?

    IIRC, people of the book is the term they use for followers of the earlier abrahamic religions and they seem them as less of an unbeliever than say atheists, animists and so on.

    Note that I consider 'Faith' something very, very wrong.

    Of the supernatural kind – I have faith in the reliability of idiocy, and also that most people are fundamentally nice if you can get them to think a little and empathize with your situation.

    1. Aesop

      I have faith… that most people are fundamentally nice if you can get them to think a little and empathize with your situation.

      And except for the whole of recorded human history and all available prehistoric evidence, which goes the other way, everyone would probably want to agree with that.

      1. Y.

        Yeah. For example it took bombing and mass rape to convince Germans that war is too costly, power corrupts etc. Look how well behaved they have been since WWII.

        1. Hognose Post author

          In a Tom Lehrer song, he sings, “we taught them a lesson in 1918, and they’ve scarcely been a bother since then.” (The song was a topical response to a then-controversial idea, to give NATO allies access to US-stockpiled tactical nukes in what was called a “Multi National Force,” MNF. It never went through but the idea of Germans with nukes scared the living Jesus out of the Russians — and the American Left).

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