Mr. Gates, who then flew to Afghanistan on a trip that will take him to the Gulf region and Iraq in coming days, wants to make sure that U.S. allies in the region understand the consequences of sitting on the sidelines if they are concerned about Iran," said a senior defense official. The Sunni-dominated monarchies are increasingly concerned that Shia-dominated Iran will try to dominate the region by appealing to Shiites in such places as Bahrain, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.Saudi Arabia has probably already snuck in from the sidelines. Saudi Arabian official Nawaf Obaid has indicated as much. Because of the kingdom's internal instability and its signifcant Shia contingent in the oil-rich east, an official military prescence is highly improbable. But the Royal Family will (or will continue to?) funnel money to Sunni fighters, many of them former members of the Republican Guard. Egypt has simultaneously made it known that it will provide a pummeled Sunni resistance with vehicles and weaponry.
Mubarak and Abdullah must be incredibly irked by Gates' demands. Iran is the sole victor of the Iraq invasion, and expanding Iranian influence is directly attributable to the Bush Administration's disastrous blunder. It's like a chronic drunk-driver admonishing you for not doing enough to quell the effects of drunk driving, while he is continues to recklessly drive drunk.
Says Senator John McCain, an unrepentant supporter of the invite-the-world, invade-the-world strategem:
"I'd like to see the Saudis, for example, fund a major jobs creation program in Iraq."The Sunni center and westernmost province of Iraq are not resource rich. It wouldn't take much to truly spur these local economies. In the late eighties, as a collapsing Soviet Union saw Gorbachev contracting his forces in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia poured more than a billion dollars to fund mujahideen fighters.
With a budget surplus approaching nearly $100 billion, one percent of that transferred directly to Sunnis would represent in the neighborhood of a $250 boost in Sunni per capita purchasing power, an increase of some 13%! Even at the 'national' level (an abstraction that is almost meaningless in understanding contemporary Iraq), a Saudi cash infusion might do just what McCain pines for, but the consequences would not be an attenuation of the raging ethnic warfare, but an accentuation of it.
Meanwhile, a 'national' Iraqi force sent in to quell sectarian violence in Baghdad is reluctant to take part in the its mission, to say the least. NPR's Ivan Watson reports that Kurds are considerably less committed to a centralized Iraq than the New Orleans' police force was to its job following Katrina:
"The public is adamantly against it up here," said Lt. Col. Dennis Chapman, who commands a small team of American military advisers attached to the Kurdish battalion. ...The pesh merga (Kurdish militia) has been battling with al-Sadr's Mahdi Army fighters in Kirkuk for over a year. While the Kurd's are Sunni Muslim, they are on relatively good terms with Shia Iran. They are non-Arab and friends of neither side in Iraq's sectarian fighting. Given that they cannot even communicate with Sunni or Shia Arabs, it's hardly surprising:
Chapman says there have been desertions. He expects only several hundred soldiers to show up in Baghdad, out of a battalion of 1,600.
Sunni Muslim in religion, the Kurds consider themselves ethnically distinct from Arabs, a group that includes most Shiite and Sunni Iraqis. While many of their officers speak some Arabic, most of the troops [90%] do not. Their government flies the Kurdish, not Iraqi, flag and desires independence.Do you believe that Aztlan members from the American Southwest would take up arms to stop fighting between Irish- and English-Americans in Boston? Only affluent nations of Western European ancestry are consistently capable of that level of self-immolating magnanimity. The Kurds aren't going to sustain casualties in Baghdad over an extended period of time just to undermine their own power and sovereignty.
This is all a result of a quixotic belief in the transforming power of representative democracy, of guaranteeing self-determination. Nevermind that a consanguinety rate of over 50%, an estimated IQ of 87, tribalistic divisions going back centuries, an intolerant religion in Islam, a PPP of $1,900, and an all-or-none cultural ethos utterly prevents the outcome the Bush neocons initially desired (or claimed they did). Nevermind that our putative great antagonist in the region is the sole beneficiary of over 3,000 dead Americans and tens of thousands of more injured, plus some $300 billion and growing down the drain.
What the hell are we sacrificing promising, patriotic blood and treasure for? Ignoring the restraints of reality, what is the optimal outcome at this point anyway? I don't even know what it is, let alone how it can possibly be achieved. It's time to cut our losses and disconnect from the Islamic world altogether.