…. well, fuck …

[politics filter]

News story here.

I am seriously approaching a loss for words. I’m increasingly of the opinion that the Bush administration has lost their collective marbles completely, is engrossed in some pseudo-messianic or pseudo-cold-war scheme to try to conquer the Middle East, and is actually being run by people stupid or delusional enough to believe that the fact that we have entirely failed to establish any sort of stable beachhead, much less stable local regime or civil society, in either Iraq or Afghanistan, might not merit a little bit more attention before we rush off on the latest half-baked scheme.

Has it seriously failed to occur to anyone that the situations in both of those countries are teetering continuously on the brink of explosive chaos, of the sort most damaging to us, and that without an immediate and large-scale deployment of resources towards nation-building — that hated word that suggests long-term investment that doesn’t return instant profitability — we’re risking dumping all of Central Asia into anarchy, leaving behind wastelands to be partitioned between fundamentalist tribesmen (Pashtuns, Kurds, Arabs both Shi’ite and Sunni, Turkmen, Chechen, etc etc – all the core of the support of the Taliban, al Qaeda, and all the rest of our primary enemies) and possibly China, India, Pakistan, and all the other local countries who are just together enough to be able to make a control grab in a power vacuum? Has it seriously failed to occur to our government that this might be a really bad thing?

I’m just losing all faith in them. I would have thought that cynical self-interest would be enough to keep this administration from the most obviously stupid moves, but apparently there is some sort of scheme of grandiose ambition at play here which outdoes even the survival instinct.

I really, really hope these latest news reports are wrong.

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Published in: on May 24, 2003 at 23:15  Comments (3)  
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3 Comments

  1. There is a large enough moderate population in Iran to realistically destablilize the government from within.
    – Iran supports extremist elements in Northern Iraq, to include the Ansar al-Islam. Biological weapons were recently captured from the Ansar al-Islam.
    – Iran has supported the extremist Shiite elements in Souther Iraq, and has bolstered the extremist forces by exporting fighters.
    – Recent attacks and attempts in Saudi Arabia point to al Qaeda cells operating out of Iran.
    – Recent attacks and attempts in Afghanistan point to al Qaeda and Taliban cells operating out of Iran.
    Cutting relations and initiating low-intensity destabilization efforts are well warranted.
    What else should the US do? Do nothing while the extremists in Iran undermine the fragile peace in both Iraq and Afghanistan?

  2. Well, I agree that they’re not our friends, and that they’re pulling games to fsck with us in the Middle East and beyond. But I’m concerned that they’re too big to destabilize safely – given their population, resources and technology, Iran going down could lead to long-term chaos in the region which would be significantly worse than the status quo.
    What I’d really like to see is prolonged, low-intensity efforts to strengthen the reformers’ hand against the conservatives, to try to encourage their internal democratic process to really take hold. I think that if Iran were to create a genuinely home-brewed Islamic democracy, without the PR taint of visible American influence, that idea would have the potential to spread throughout the Islamic world to generally good effect. I think that, given time, the current conservative regime is likely to end on its own; the question is whether it will do so “gently,” through a political process, or whether the country is going to plunge into civil war and anarchy.
    So I’m getting the creeps about this whole story mostly because I’m concerned that a precipitate destabilization effort could push things into anarchy; for instance, it could easily lead to hard-liners getting enough support inside the country to crack down on the moderates brutally, ending the nascent democratic experiment, and then requiring much more forceful destabilization efforts on our part; this could get bad really quickly.

  3. Concur.
    Destabilization is such a general term. I assumed it meant strengthening the political position of the reformers. I see that you assumed it meant a more militant solution. We may well have to wait to see what, exactly, is meant by destabilization of the regime.
    I concur on your points, however. As I see US resources and strength stretched thin, I would prefer our efforts focused upon bringing about political change from within, through the political mechanisms already in place – minimal disruption of the nation by maintaining the various infrastructures rather than compromising and/or destroying the infrastructures. If these efforts are discovered to be ineffective over time, then I would wholly expect gradual escalation of efforts until extremist (Iranian) influence in areas of particular US interest has been diminished to acceptable levels.
    However, the Iranians must understand that we will not tolerate continued destabilization of those democratic governments that have replaced the oppressive regimes. Continued direct actions and operations against these governments by the Iranians may well provoke a more direct US response in order to protect the stability of the newly formed governments. If the situation warrants it, I would fully support direct and decisive action.


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