Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Third Gulf War and the Poison Gift that Keeps on Giving

As His Fraudulency thumps himself on the back for not completely goatscrewing relief efforts to Puerto Rico and farkles about tweeting about football players the poison tree that his GOP buddies and his fellow-idiot Dubya planted in Iraq back in 2003 continues to bear bitter, poison fruit.

The latest in sectarian strife there is ripening this week after the Kurdish minority voted overwhelmingly to secede and now the Shiite majority legislature in Baghdad is striking back with a measure to shut off air traffic to the landlocked Kurdish provinces.

The problem for Orange Foolius is that, due to the rank idiocy of Dubya's crew in knocking the secular Baath stopper off the Iraqi bottle, the sectarian genie is out, uncontrollable, and uncontainable. One of the favorite Republican "kwitcherbitchin'!" talking points back in the Oughts was to insist that Saddam is Evil and if you're against war in Iraq you are For Saddam and therefore For Evil.

The argument was transparently moronic then and looks even stupider now that the deposition of Saddam and the destruction of secular government has empowered every religious nut with an AK-47 to tear up what little bridgework allowed construction of the 20th Century over this already-bottomless post-Ottoman sinkhole. Evil?


An administration headed by FDR and a military overseen by George Marshall would have a nearly impossible task trying to put this Iraqi Humpty Dumpty together again. The current passel of mouthbreathers, grifters, morons, reality-show carnies, egomaniac adolescents, and Trump (but I repeat myself) couldn't manage to do anything constructive with this mess if they had ten centuries, a magic 8-Ball, and a license to print money.

Oh, wait. They have the latter. They'd just sooner use it to fund Amway scamsters and give away cash to plutocrats.

I don't know if there's a point here, other than "Don't elect morons" and "WASF".


  1. "...shut off air traffic..."

    Lufthansa has said they will continue operating passenger flights in and out of Erbil airport despite Iraq's request. And Canada is delivering arms to the Peshmerga - thru Erbil I believe.

    The various national Air Forces of the Coalition use Erbil also. But if pressed they could use other airfields in Iraq.

    1. ...thus driving home the point that Barzani tries to make; the Baghdad's writ runs no further than a Shiite militia unit is willing to kill to enforce it. Well played, Mr. Barzani. You have taken that first official step towards the end of Iraq.

      Frankly if the Western nations are all in on this they have no real beef if and when the Sunni west declares it's independence under some ex-Baathist. How can what's good for Iraqi Kurds not be okay for Sunni muj..?

      That this Mess-o-potamia was doomed from the start is frustrating when you think of how many people warned the Bushies about it. That none of the sonsofbitches has so much as missed a meal for it is even more infuriating.

  2. "You have taken that first official step towards the end of Iraq."

    Ooch, me thinks "official end of Iraq" was when Obama Kinda/sorta waffled on Iraq, i.e. all in or get the hell out...I personally think the get the hell out, but done was done...then we waffled on the Syrian civil war...should we hug the Syrian Tar Baby, or walk away from it...

    The problem stems to the decision of Dubya...invade Iraq...and from there the dominoes keep topling over, and there is not putting the D'jinn back in the bottle.

    I still think we should ally ourselves with the Kurds...they seem to be the only stable, level headed crew in the region...of course, I may just be blind, and not seeing everything, but the middle east, from the Med to the Indus river all seems to be one seething pot of "fuck all y'all!"

    And I'm pretty sure it's gonna detonate in one big fiery ball of "Oh it's on bitches!" and the US is gonna be left holding the bag, ala the Serbian War.

    I suspect with limited proof that the delicate nature of navigating the fraternal disagreements in Asia Minor would prove challenging to a competent and fully staff State is a long way of me saying Trump and his three ring circus of grab-ass-clowns are in over their heads and I'm laying odds out that WWIII is just around the corner...or...someone is gonna use a nuke, and it ain't gonna be pretty.


    1. Right, found what I was looking for...oy...timing sheer, it's all about timing.

      Key graf: "Yet Derek Chollet — who helped formulate Iraq policy in the Obama State Department, White House, and Defense Department — concedes in his book The Long Game on Obama’s global strategy that even a “small residual force” would have given the administration more insight into the glaring failures of Iraq’s security forces — and perhaps also prevented officials from dismissing the Islamic State as al Qaeda’s “JV team,” as Obama memorably put it."


    2. Problem, sheerah, was that the Iraqi government wouldn't sign a SOFA. That left U.S. nationals in the armed forces subject to Iraqi criminal and civil law without restriction. The Bushies wouldn't stand for that and neither did Obama's people.

      And the notion that somehow a couple of hundred joes would have provided "more insight into the glaring failures" of the IA, WTF, man? We had something like 50,000 people there for damn near a decade working with and "training" these mooks. We knew perfectly well what the "glaring failures" were; piss-poor motivation, shitty first-line leadership, and massive corruption all the way up the line to Baghdad.

    3. I like the Kurds, too. But I'm just "me". The problem with "allying ourselves with the Kurds" is that it puts us in Dutch with both the Iraqi government that we're trying to keep at least a hand in with, Turkey, a supposed NATO ally and de-facto military partner, as well as most of the other neighboring "states" who see the deconstruction of Iraq as a danger to their own post-colonial borders. If "Iraq" is a fiction what the hell is Lebanon? Syria? Morocco? Most of the Middle East is a congeries of "tribes with flags" and many of the tribes - as we're seeing in Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Yemen, Libya... - dislike having to rub along with each other.

      So the problem with the Kurds is the same as it's always been; typically they're amongst the most "admirable" of the groups in the Middle East, and at the same time the least fortunate. They're sort of the Orangemen of the Fertile Crescent only much more likeable...

    4. And Obama's guy was right; the IS was and is nothing more than a bunch of raggedy-assed muj, no different from a gajillion other Saladin wannabes in SW Asia. They had the benefit of good luck in finding the sweet spot between the Syrian breakup and Iraqi Shia incompetence to grab some territory. To make them into the Islamic Great Power was a stupid mistake and played to their strength, propaganda bullshit. The West has expended far too much time, money, and effort on them that should have gone into problems that are going to continue to make the Middle East a turbulent place, such as a truly equitable resolution of the Occupied Territories, or the Saudi-Iran feud.

  3. There's a similar issue with Catalonia in Spain now.

    It's way overdue that we / the UN find ways to deal with this satisfactorily.
    I have some ideas, but they are rational and don't do anything about the greed for power or the instinctive desire that makes one with for the own hunter-gatherer clan should to be big and powerful.

    I can point at quality of life in Luxembourg as much as I want; the rational level is not going to satisfy people.

    1. I think the problem is that if an international body COULD deal with these sovereignty conflicts it'd be brilliant. Instead, as you note, they usually devolve into caveman chest-beating and club-waving.

      There's no real "reason" why Kurds "should" be Iraqis or Turks or Iranians, any more than why Catalans should be Spaniards if they'd rather not. Or, hell, Californians should be Americans if they choose not to be.

      But most nation-states don't see it that way. And for the US - whose political position in the world is perilous enough - to be seen as encouraging or facilitating the breakup of postcolonial borders on ethnic lines seems to open a Pandora's Box of troubles I doubt anyone left at State with two brain cells (which leaves the current SecState out, of course...) wants to happen...

  4. Like Sheerakhan, I'm also a fan of the Kurds. Same for the Catalans. Why is it good for South Sudan, Timor-Leste, Montenegro and the other five(?) new countries from Tito's former Utopia, but not for Southern Kurdistan? Or 'Bashur' in their parlance.

    May they establish their nation and remain at peace with their neighbors.

    Today is the 2348th (or 2349th?) anniversary of the Battle of Gaugamela, which was fought near Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan. Or maybe it was nearer Erbil as the battle was also called the Battle of Arbela? Let's hope no such bloodshed again occurs there.

    1. I think the problem, Mike, is geographic. Kurdistan is landlocked within a circle of hostile or, at best, grumpily-indifferent neighbors. The chance they'd remain at peace seems desperately slim.

    2. And thererin lies the rub...indifference...which often leads to one party thinking, "alrighty, then, if they don't care, then woohooo...we got this...hey, what gives?!?" as the Kurd's stretch out again, apparently their finding out the limits of their neighbor's indifference.

      I think, and this is just me wandering around inside the brain-pan here, that a Kurdish Country kinda/sorta solves Turkey's problem with the PKK by ceding a bit of border territory, and Iraq's problem of managing the Oil wells and protecting them from ISIS, and Al Qaeda's interference (realpolitik here).

      And I know, the counter argument being, "but sheer, the oil! What about the oil!"

      And therein lies the answer to both Iraq AND Turkey...Kurds have no water access...Turkey and Iraq do.

      Deep Water Port service should not be expected to be free, and Turkey would be able to profit from a pipeline through their territory that...1) they don't have to pay for, 2) they get paid for access, and 3) all that is required of Turkey is to make sure the Kurdish state gets a receipt for the pipeline rental space.

      And Iraq...because sectarian shenanigans happens to have an itch to target the pocket book, having the Kurd's watch the Oil wells, and Iraq gets a taste (read: kickback) of profits allows Iraq to 1) not worry about functionality and protection of said oil fields, 2) Kurd's pay a access fee for use of mineral rights to the Iraqi government, and 3) All that is required of the Iraqi Government is collect the monies, and send the Kurd's a receipt.


      Kurds get 1) their own country, 2) money influx, and 3) a lesson in diplomacy for deep water access, air-corridors for inc. air traffic, and tariff's for overland trade...all around for Turkey and Iraq, their neighbors get paid instead of getting bombed by an irate PKK who want, win, and win.

      Not a great set up as it requires an initial land and resource sacrifice, but in the long run it's a lot cheaper than spending a crap ton of money, and time that inhibits national growth...and in the long run, all parties benefit.

      Geography doesn't have to be a detriment, it can be a method of forcing creative solutions that were beforehand hidden due to...uh...nationalism.

  5. FDChief -

    Actively hostile!

    Iran and Turkey have been lifelong enemies. Even the al-Baghdadi/Daesh/ISIS/alQuaeda crisis could not get Rouhani and Erdogan in a face-to-face meeting.

    But whisper the word 'Kurd' in their ear and they run to each other and embrace in fear. They must have heard that these two evil Kurdish thugs were coming their way.



  7. Note that the Iraqi Kurds often refer to their statelet as "South Kurdistan". Which, by implication, means that North Kurdistan comes out of Turkey, East Kurdistan from Iran and West Kurdistan from Syria. Thus, 4 provinces forming "Greater Kurdistan".

    I can not think of a better way to drive Iraqi, Turkish, Syrian and Iranian officials crazy.

  8. Ael -

    The PKK in North Kurdistan has said they will not standby on the sidelines if Turkey attacks South Kurdistan. They will step up their attacks within Turkey.

    And Iran will surely be faced with a rebellion in East Kurdistan (Rojhelat) if they invade.

    West Kurdistan is busy fighting Daesh. But during the Battle of Kobane, when they were almost wiped out, they got military aid from Iraqi Kurdistan. Plus they have been shelled by the Turkish Army. And the Daesh they have been fighting got aid and free passage from Turkey. So they may well respond also if Iraqi Kurds are attacked.

    Let's hope it does not come to that. The Iraqi Kurds seem to think that Iran and Turkey are bluffing and posturing politically, and will not attack directly. Perhaps Iran will sic their Iraqi Shia militias on the Iraqi Kurds and the Turks would do the same with their Iraqi Turkoman kinsmen?

    I myself think that the Iraqi Kurds believe that the oil and gas investments by Rosneft (Russian) and ExxonMobil (US) will forestall outright war. They may be right. I understand Putin has a healthy percentage of Rosneft and is looking to export Kurdish gas and oil to Turkey and Europe.

    On the other hand it is not only the West that has screwed and blued the Kurds. The Soviets used them and then abused or deserted them in both Red Kurdistan and the Mahabad Republic. The Kurds need to watch their back when dealing with either Trump or Putin.

  9. mike -

    The Kurds only friends are the mountains.

  10. Interesting cartoon circulating:

  11. Since this is quite calm now, I'll offer some related targets and say "Feuererlaubnis erteilt - open fire"! :-)

  12. Sven -

    The KRG referendum was only for Iraqi Kurdistan. It did not include areas of Syria, Turkey and Iran. They did allow the Kurdish diaspora in Europe and the US to vote, but again supposedly this was only for those with Iraqi papers. Not sure how they checked that. The "areas outside the region’s administration" were in reference to those areas in Iraq not currently in the Duhok, Hawler, Silemani and Halabja governates. In other words specific predominately Kurdish districts in Kirkuk, Nineveh, Salahuddin and Diyala governates. That seems to be Iraqi PM Abadi's main objection. Especially oil rich Kirkuk which used to be predominately Kurdish before Sadaam did his ethnic cleansing.

    I like your shared sovereignty proposal. Although I do not see it happening anytime in this century. Even though I like your proposal I do agree that the comment by Domo on your blog needs to be addressed. Your claim that "There's nowhere such a stark contrast in culture between neighbours' may be true for Europe, but not everywhere. Neighbors are not so culturally attuned elsewhere.

    1. Examples?
      There are areas where one religious group differs from another on topics things like genital mutilation, but know of no differences between neighbours as great as in his hypothetical case.

  13. Sven -

    You are right about Domo's hypothetical stoning of rape victims in country B while sharing a border with country A that hangs the rapist. That example was inconceivable IMHO.

    But I wonder about Turkey's controversial bill forcing child sexual assault victims being forced to marry their rapists. That bill was finally withdrawn amid much grumbling by the mullahs who had proposed it. Will they try again? How would Armenia, Georgia, Greece and Bulgaria view such legislation?

    And how do the Buddhists and Muslim in Myanmar and Sri Lanka resolve their differences in civil and criminal law? Impossible!

    1. Keep in mind they can have their own rules among themselves. It would only be in a-b deals and conflicts in the mixed area that the consensus rules would apply.

      Sure sounds more promising than perpetual conflict of ethnic cleansing.

      BTW, I blocked a comment that advocated ethnic cleansing as the ideal solution. The older you get the more asswipes you have met.

  14. Sheerakhan -

    I agree that KRG Independence would be a win-win situation for all. Unfortunately the Gang of Four are afflicted with Kurdophobic paranoia. They cannot understand the benefits. They only think OMG the untermensch dare to put themselves on our level. How dare they. This kind of virus will infect the aboriginals in our country.

    And they may be right. But repression is not the answer. As JFK, or his speechwriter, said - "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.?

  15. One thing that I thought would make these sorts of ethnic-enclave-states more difficult in places like Africa and much of the Middle East is that the borders of the "nation-states" were usually drawn by European colonial powers and have little, if any, relation to who actually lives where and how well they get along.

    But the Catalan independence bid has me wondering. If Spain, which has been a Westphalian state for over 500 years can splinter along ethnic lines, well...

  16. It may be that Catalans and the North Italian Lega Nord simply think that their richer region would be better off alone.

    Lega Nord may actually have the better case, though. North Italy is less corrupt than South Italy and South Italy desperately needs a separate, weaker currency for its industrial growth anyway.