Most of you are like me, you don't understand squat about what's going on in the Middle East. So I did some research because I was tired of not knowing squat. Now I know maybe a little more than squat. Let me explain some problems we have, as I see them.
First of all, assume that the United States knows barely more than you do about foreign policy. We have made some serious mistakes, backed wrong people, and generally made a mess of things over and over. I am not saying we are bad guys, I am saying we tend to swing our big stick and shout a lot without much thought or education beforehand. Half of our foreign relations staff look in shades of absolute based on stereotypes, deliberate misinformation and propaganda by opposing sides, and just in general being stupid. The other half are doing their best to cover up the first half's mistakes. That's why no one in politics can even agree on any one thing.
Next, we have bad agendas. This was worse during the cold war, and we still aren't good at it now. Just a summary of ONE of our big mistakes is Afghanistan. When we hated the Soviets during the Cold War, we backed the anti-Soviet "freedom fighters." We gave money and weapons to anyone who hated the Soviets without much research, which wasn't too smart. One of these groups was the Taliban. When the Soviets lost (or probably just gave up when they couldn't use WW2 tactics on people hiding in desert caves), the Taliban ended up taking power. Of course, they were religious zealots, and went about destroying anything that wasn't from their radical faction of Islam (let me state for the record that Islam itself is like Christianity, if only in the fact that it's a nice religion about being kind to your fellow man and have a good relationship with God, but seems to have the same share of insecure splinter factions who twist fairly good scripture into words of hate and war). Remember those huge Buddhist Statues they destroyed? Well, the Taliban kept control by keeping people stupid (like how slavemasters kept slaves illiterate) and like the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, used religion as a mask for government agenda. So people suffered, because it was all about the people in power, not the citizens that they ruled over. They also needed money, and Osama Bin Laden and his goons of Ultra-radical psuedo-Islamic had plenty of that. So Osama said, "I'll pay you money to set up camp here," and the Taliban went, "Okee dokee!" So then Osama hit us while we weren't looking, and went "Hee hee!" and then we went and attacked the former people we supported, the Taliban.
Think of it this way. You are a big strong guy with a big heart, but who isn't too bright. You see another big guy you hate at a bar, harassing up some ladies you don't know, but you hate this guy, and so you decide to protect this group of women. The guy isn't so tough, backs down, and one of the women turns out to be a real nut case. You decide to ignore her, and suddenly, her boyfriend you never knew hits you on the head with a bottle. You chase this guy out into the street, but he's gone. Your friends tell you "it's not worth it," but your head hurts and you have no idea who this guy was, or when he or one of his friends may attack you again. You are the US. Your friends are NATO, who usually back you up, but this time, they are restraining you. Even the big guy you used to hate turns out not to be such a bad guy after all, and he's the former Soviet Union, now Russia. The group of women were Afghanistan. The girl was the Taliban. The guy who hit you with the bottle is Osama Bin Laden.
Now let's apply this to Iraq. Iraq is this chicken-butt guy who does nothing but try and egg people on. He's sitting in the back of the bar with his buddies at the same table, some who support him because he's part of their group, but are kind of unsure about him. Iraq has some buddies like Syria who will support him no matter what (unless attacked). Then Iraq has some other buddies like Saudi Arabia, who support him, but realize Iraq might be totally crazy and screw up the whole table (Arab world). "He's one of us but... Iraq, just keep it down." Some are not even sure if they would defend him in a fight because he's so arrogant and stupid sometimes, and goes through raging periods of drunken fights where he usually only ends up hurting himself. Saudi Arabia is on a limited term friendship with you, because you two are business partners, but you like that guy "Israel," whom no one at the Arab table can stand one bit. Israel has been your bufu buddy since he came in the bar almost 50 years ago, but that guy Arafat keeps throwing bar nuts at his head. Recently Israel and Arafat claimed they'd stop fighting over bar space, but they can never seem to stop throwing bar nuts at each other and screaming "Quit it!" You think Iraq has a gun, and will shoot people, but when your NATO bar buddies search him, they can't find a gun. You are convinced NATO's not searching hard enough, because why else would Iraq wear a holster?
Guns, by the way, in this bar fight, are nuclear weapons, which are correctly pronounced "new-CLEAR" not "new-cue-ler," by the way, Mr. Bush. Russia, the United States, France, China, Great Britain, Israel, Pakistan, and India all have guns. And possibly Iran.
Iran was a guy we supported until he went religiously mental (when the Ayatollah Khomeni usurped the Shah, whom we had supported) during the Islamic revolution of 1979. Iran hates the United States, and after they took our hostages for over a year from our embassy, the feeling is mutual. Of course, Iran and Iraq also hate each other, and Iraq was at war with them for a long time afterwards in a battle that lasted many years and neither side really got it together enough to defeat each other, so they stopped after eight years of stalemate, and both claimed victory to their people. Saddam is scared silly that an Islamic revolution will happen in his country, so he pretty much killed all the clergy, and then claimed to be religious himself. Did I mention he killed off all the former staff and put in his own family? And even has killed them from time to time? All hail Nero.
So ... we have told our NATO drinking buddies that we're going to beat the snot out of Iraq and rip out Saddam by the roots, something we should have finished ten years ago. NATO thinks Osama hit us a little too hard with the bottle (the 9/11 attack), and we may not be thinking straight. Like we're going, "Ow, he got hit, we can't get the SOB who did it, so ... let's beat up Iraq!" Maybe we are, I don't know. I bet most of the bar thinks so. Of course, if Iraq does have guns, he's going to shoot Israel, ex-buddy Kuwait, and quite possibly at us. I think that's probably proof right there he doesn't have guns, he would have used them by now (there was a plan to detonate a nuclear bomb at the port of Joppa in Israel, but what became of that we're not sure). When he got chemical weapons, he used them on his own people, the Kurds, because they wanted to remain religiously isolated from the Saddam/pseudo-Islamic state. But that's only proof he doesn't have guns ... yet. I am sure the second he has one, he's going to use it. I mean, he wouldn't if he was smart, but I think he's past crazy to override smart. When he took power in 1979, killed most of the former cabinet as "spies and traitors," and then launched an eight-year war with Iran, which back then, we were all "Yay Iraq!"
Now here's where it get complicated on our end. See, the Arabs have all this oil. We have oil, but when you counted in the cost of labor and stuff to drill for it, it was cheaper to buy it from the Arabs. But the Arabs founded OPEC in the 1960s, an oil-buddy group, most of which sit at the Arab table (but meet in private near the jukebox so you can't hear them). They didn't like the fact we were buddies with Israel (among other things), so in 1973, they acted like a cartel and decided to raise oil prices dramatically by cutting back on world supply. This hit the US badly, because we had gas-guzzling cars. So Iraq thought... "Hey ... we're not with OPEC ... let's sell to the US." Money POURED into Iraq, which went from a piss-poor desert nation to one of incredible wealth in just a few years. Money lust for power = Iraq today. In fact, we STILL buy oil from them, even when we had sanctions against them NOT to buy stuff. I mean, even current Vice President Dick Cheney has companies there. Talk about conflict of interest.
So, like Afghanistan, the situation with Iraq is also partly our fault. We gave them money for oil, then supported their war against Iran, and then kept giving them money even though we said we wouldn't. Now Iraq is beating their chest and being Mr. Badass because he got to the liquor again. The other Arab countries are nervously supporting him, but will probably flee his side if he does something too stupid.
Then, someone in the Asian section of the bar, some drunk we beat up in 1953 only to end in a draw (again, NATO eventually said, "Okay fellas, back off ... this isn't WW2," even though they were also fighting) gets up, raises his slobbering bottle of Mad Dog 20/20, and shouts, "I have a gun!" That's North Korea, who has seen better days, and might just be desperate enough to develop weapons and shoot South Korea (his ex-wife) or Japan (who used to hate us in the 1940s, but now we're both in love in some strange homo-erotic worship). South Korea is looking for a quick exit in our direction. China, North Korea's only hope for a pal, is telling him to keep it down before he gets himself killed.
Nice bar. We're all a little messed up, but I hope we don't end up in some regrettable brawl that gets someone shot, you know?
Disclaimer: This essay is based on my personal knowledge which may fall a little short of specific truths based in part on over-generalization of facts, gaps of knowledge, and personal experience of drunks. I encourage my readers to feel free to disagree with any or all parts of this essay, and do their own research.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000045.html