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So let me see if I’ve got this whole Iraq, middle east, foreign policy thing straight.

Islam is split into two main branches, Sunni and Shiite. Saudi Arabia is Sunni and Iran is Shiite. Iraq is split between the two. All three have lots of oil.

Under the Shah Iran was a US ally but the Iranian revolution ended that. Iran has been one of our top enemies ever since the revolution and the hostage crisis. The US appears to have never gotten over that particular national embarrassment.  The Saudi Arabians meanwhile have remained allied business partners. Emphasis on business partners.

Iraq under Saddam Hussein was an ally against Iran but an enemy when they invaded little Kuwait which has lots of oil. Then Iraq became a major enemy and we invaded, defeated, but didn’t conquer.

Meanwhile, bin Laden, a Yemeni whose family lived and became rich in Saudi Arabia, was an ally when he went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet invasion. Bin Laden and the Taliban became radical Islamists under the influence of the extremist Wahhabi Islam supported and exported by our allies in Saudi Arabia to other Muslim countries.  The US became an enemy of bin Laden when we placed troops in Saudi Arabia to defend the Saudi’s and defeat Iraq.

Meanwhile, Iran was a secret, and illegal, ally with Reagan and his people during the whole Iran-Contra affair.

Fast forward to bin Laden and his radicals, mostly from our ally Saudi Arabia, attack on the US so the US attacks their allies the Taliban in Afghanistan. Except we only partially do so in order not to put too many troops on the ground. We support local warlords who prove not to be up to the task and let the Taliban get away and let bin Laden get away and only partially take back control of Afghanistan.

But hey! Our military strength is preserved so we can attack Iraq which had nothing to do with it but has lots of oil. So the US attacks and defeats Iraq with no plan to manage the peace or rebuild the country. The Bush II administration decides to dismantle and kick out the entire Sunni leadership structure including the military and start from scratch with our new Shiite allies in Iraq. The same Shiites the Iranians support. The results in Iraq look a lot like the results in Afghanistan. An enemy mostly but not completely defeated and a rebuilding process that barely puts a fresh coat of paint on a crushed infrastructure, both physical infrastructure and political infrastructure.

Fast forward a little more. The US has withdrawn military troops from Iraq. The Shiite government of Iraq has proven to not understand how to rebuild and reknit the country politically. They appear to be corrupt and they have done everything they can to keep the Sunni’s from power including bringing charges against the highest ranking Sunni’s in their “unity” government. The result has been predictable... a Sunni military resurgence that threatens to take over the country. These Sunni’s appear to be fairly radical, bad news people. They also appear to have the support of Sunni Saudi Arabia. Coming to the defense of the Shiite government is Shiite Iran. The US opposes the Sunni insurgency and supports their Shiite allies in the Iraq government.

So let me get this straight… the US wants to support the Shiite government of Iraq which is allied with our enemy Iran against the Sunni insurgency and their allies, our ally Saudi Arabia.

I really can’t think of a better description of a situation we should stay out of.

The fact of the matter is that there really is no reason for us to be enemies with Iran. Yes, their theocratic government is anti-democratic but that has never stopped us from being friends with other countries… like, say, Saudi Arabia. And Iran has shown several times in the past they are perfectly willing to work with “the Great Satan” when we are willing to work with them… for instance in combating the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. There is nothing inherently threatening or bad about Iran other than the fact they embarrassed us back in the late 1970’s. And… they have a lot of oil.

The fact of the matter is that there really is no reason for us to be allies with Saudi Arabia. Yes, their government has been a steady business partner of ours since they came into existence at the end of World War I but they are run by a single family with the support of a particularly ugly brand of theocratic Wahhabism that is completely anti-democratic and anti-freedom… exactly the kind of stuff we like to accuse other “enemy” countries of being. And Saudi Arabia has shown that they are perfectly happy to work against our interests regardless of how much money we send their way or how many American lives have been spent defending them. There is nothing inherently good or friendly about Saudi Arabia. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudi’s. The only real reason Iran is an enemy is that they are Saudi Arabia’s greatest rival. The only reason we’ve spent so much cash and lives in Iraq is to defend Saudi Arabia and their dominance of the oil market from Iran. Oh yeah... and they have lots of oil.

All three countries have lots of oil and little of anything else. All three countries want to sell their oil and make gobsmacking profits. Meanwhile back at home the fossil fuel giants are doing everything in their power to keep the US dependent on oil and coal to keep their gobsmacking profits rolling in. The US under Obama has made some progress in alternative, renewable energy sources but is far from making a commitment to a break from reliance on them. With the breakdown of democratic, representative political processes here in the US the large portion of the US government owned by the oil, gas and coal industry keeps us locked into reliance on fossil fuels.

And here we are in a situation of defending Iran allied Shiite Iraq against Saudi Arabia allied Sunni Iraq. Remind me again why we should give a shit who wins or loses?

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Comment Preferences

  •  You forgot the Iran/Iraq War where the US propped (7+ / 0-)

    up Saddam after he attacked a country with 4x the population he had.  Also there seems to have been an airliner shot down by a US war ship.  Also, I seem to remember Shia and Kurds being encouraged during Desert Storm to rise up against Saddam and the US would assist them.  Instead, they were gassed by Saddam and died for believing an American promise.

    Then there were the Iranians who gave us an entre to the Northern Alliance whom Iran continued to supply after the US lost interest and wandered off after the Soviets bugged out.  The Northern Alliance was a bit askance at the US coming to them wanting favors.

    Also, there were the al Qaeda operatives captured by Iranian security at the border and turned over to the US while American MSM was trumpeting that al Qaeda was hiding out in Iran.

    Problem for any diary on this subject is that US behavior at times has been so egregious that it would take a series of diaries to cover the topic completely.

    However, excellent diary; I just quibble at times  

    •  Very true... this is a short hand diary (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      River Rover, ColoTim, Albanius

      leaving out a few thousand years of history and only touching a few of the major pieces of current history.

      "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

      by Andrew C White on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 12:00:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The history of imperialism in Iraq (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Andrew C White

        goes back to the conquest of the Sumerians by Sargon of Akkad in the 24th C BCE.  Iraq has no natural defenses, has been invaded too many times to enumerate.

        Outstanding diary, tipped and rec'd.

        One more irony: Obama has been pursuing an "all of the above" (and below) energy strategy in the name of energy independence.  IIRC the US is no longer a net importer of oil and gas, and is now in a position to read the Riot Act to the Saudis re arming ISIS and the Taliban (on both sides of the border between Afghanistan and our other frienemy). IMHO that should be the main focus of US policy to deal with the Iraq crisis.

        Unfortunately, fracking for domestic oil and gas contributes to catastrophic global overheating, a far greater national security  threat than all the jihadists and non-Muslim terrorists in the world put together, even including bin Laden's expressed intention of nuking a US city.

        There's no such thing as a free market!

        by Albanius on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 05:35:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  FTR, about 15% of Saudi Arabia is Shi'a and... (6+ / 0-)

    ...about 10% of Iran is Sunni.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 11:17:40 AM PDT

  •  You're thinking in terms of countries (10+ / 0-)

    acting in their 'national interest'.  Particularly with regards the USA, this is not what happens.  The USA acts to profit the segments of USA society that happen to control the levers of power.  'National Interest' is a joke, when it comes to USA foreign policy.

    In the case of Iraq, the war more than doubled the price of crude Oil.  At the same time, domestic USA producers pretty much doubled their own production of Oil.  Profit!  Especially because these domestic producers 1) did not pay for the war; 2) used the war, and ongoing conflict with Iran, to slow Oil production by competitors; 3) being connected to the right people, seized control of Iraq's Oil infrastructure and sold their Oil on the black market for cash, for the entire duration of the war - profit! (well, theft, but it paid well); 4) being massive players in the infrastructure market, they also got the contracts to operate and modernize Iraq's Oil infrastructure once the 'war' was over (though they failed to get their Bush II giveaway 'PSA' agreements) - profit!

    These same people are now using their minions to avoid paying even the smallest amount of taxes on their profits to cover any share whatsoever of the war that made all of this Profit! possible.  Screw the veterans, let them pick up their beds and walk.

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 11:19:59 AM PDT

  •  The question shouldn't be (7+ / 0-)
    Remind me again why we should give a shit who wins or loses?
    I think it should be
    When are we going to come to terms with the fact that we caused most of this shit to happen and then stop doing it?

    The world is bad enough as it is, you have no right to make it any worse.
    Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

    by InAntalya on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 11:25:00 AM PDT

    •  I disagree that we caused it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Albanius

      we just got in the middle of shit that was always going to happen anyhow and made it worse by being better at killing and destroying then the people who actually live there.

      "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

      by Andrew C White on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 12:00:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yea, right. (3+ / 0-)

        Governments were overthrown but we just innocently found ourselves in the middle of it,

        Corrupt despotic governments were imposed but we just innocently found ourselves in the middle of it,

        Resources were stolen but we just innocently found ourselves in the middle of it,

        Sectarian groups were armed and supported to start civil wars but we just innocently found ourselves in the middle of it,

        and on, and on, and on but we always just innocently found ourselves in the middle of it.

        The world is bad enough as it is, you have no right to make it any worse.
        Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

        by InAntalya on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 12:22:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You misunderstand (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Albanius

          I didn't say anything about being "innocently in the middle" of anything. Please don't put words in my mouth. The US blundered in as it always does and paid the price for it... and Iraqi's and Iranians and Afghanis paid the price for it too.

          What I am saying is that the divisions that exist there have nothing to do with us or our blunders. All we did was rip the cover off of problems that have been going on in their societies without our help (or harm) for or a thousand years or so. All we did was stir an existing pot.

          "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

          by Andrew C White on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 12:51:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So do you retract (0+ / 0-)
            I disagree that we caused it we just got in the middle of shit that was always going to happen anyhow ...
            ?

            The world is bad enough as it is, you have no right to make it any worse.
            Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

            by InAntalya on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 01:01:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, not in the least (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Albanius

              The problems of these nations are their own. They were made vastly worse by the horrid set-up of colonial and post-colonial Europe and then kept that way by the US overthrowing governments from time to time and picking to support other horrid governments and then most recently blowing shit up and killing lots of people. The US is far from innocent in these matters and at no point in here have I said so. But I stand by my statement that we put ourselves in the middle of problems we have no business being in the middle of and no ability to solve for people that need to solve them for themselves. All we do and have ever done over there is make matters worse.

              "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

              by Andrew C White on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 01:10:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  We caused it. Here's pictures of Afghanistan in (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        InAntalya, schumann

        1950/1960's when it was allied with the Soviet Union.

        http://www.retronaut.com/...

        In 1979 Carter started Operation Cyclone which funded and armed the mujaheddin to sucker the Soviets into turning Afghanistan into their Vietnam. With the help of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, religious fanatics were trained in madrases to become jihadists - to fight holy war.

        The end result has been the destruction of Afghanistan, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, 9/11 and two bloody wars costing the US a tremendous amount in blood and treasure that we are still dealing with to this very day.

        Then there was Operation Ajax in Iran 1953.

        Followed by Saddam Hussein:
           

        •  We caused it? Really? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Albanius

          So Afghanis and Iraqis and Iranians aren't responsible for their own lives or history? That's an incredibly arrogant point of view.

          I am in no way defending US policy in these nations any more than that of southeast Asia or central and South America but the problems in the Arab nations go back farther than the United States does and if you want to blame an external force for them you need to talk about colonial Europe not the US.

          But all that is besides the point. They need to work out their own problems and we need to stay the fuck out of it. Partially because it's not our battle to begin with and partially because our track record shows clearly (and here I refer to your links as well as my own comments in the diary) that all we do is make matters worse and kill a lot of people in the process.

          "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

          by Andrew C White on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 12:54:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Those nations were responsible for there own lives (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Andrew C White

            and history. At least until the US and other western powers stepped and intervened for geo-strategic and economic reasons.

            The US is just as responsible as Colonial Europe for fucking with foreign nations. In fact, the first foreign nations they fucked with were the indigenous people of North America followed closely by blacks from Africa.

            It's all a rather sordid history if you look too closely at the facts.

  •  And there is that in-convenient fact, (5+ / 0-)

    That since the discovery of Oil and Gas in the Middle East, no matter which "side", (East/West, Arab Nationalists, Rogue Nations, Sponsors of Terrorism) the supplier nations were on, the US has always been able to buy all the oil and gas it needs, at fair market prices,

    Except for that one short lived time, created by the US's BFF, Saudi Arabia, back in '75.

    •  Exactly! So what does it really matter (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brown Thrasher

      who wins or loses? Whoever wins is going to want to sell their oil at market prices and the US will be willing to buy the oil at market prices and none of the governments involved are paragons of virtue so what difference does it really make?

      (except of course to those companies and executives we get the contracts depending on whose side wins or loses)

      "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

      by Andrew C White on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 12:04:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And the poor suffering bastards who live there (0+ / 0-)

        Iran and Iraq and Saudi are nations with large populations who want to be able to live their lives and bring up their children in peace.

        Iran and Iraq (Saudi not so much) have been the vanguard of civilisation for 6000 years. They were democratic nations till the CIA decided they didn't like that. I haven't seen the slightest evidence that the USA has any interest in restoring real democracy there or anywhere.

    •  Yes, but as we both know, it isn't about supply, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brown Thrasher, Andrew C White

      it's all about theft. Just another factor in the endless class war.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

      by Greyhound on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 12:35:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's actually about control (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Andrew C White

        The ancient game theory, was that if you had control of a resource, you could deny it's use by an opponent in war.

        While disputably true during WWII, despite the actions of the Bush's, Standard Oil, etc, both Germany and Japan's war efforts withered in part, by running out of fuel.

        Disputably, because the blockades mattered more than access. Japan for example had seized control of more fuel resources than they could use, they just couldn't, for a lot of reasons, ship enough back to keep their war machine running. Germany had done the same, and had similar problems, ( lack of rolling stock, infrastructure) and by 1943, not only was the air war causing problems with the transportation system, but the Red Army gains were taking back the oil resources.

        During the Cold War, it became pretty clear to everybody but some sectors of the US MIC, that oil was no longer a "strategic resource". The Soviets and their Allies sold oil to the West, with nary a hiccup, cash on the barrel and functioning economies trumped Ideology and Politics.

        Modelled  full scale shooting wars, where in theory Control of the Oil would have in the long term mattered, never lasted longer the 6 days with out going full bore nuke, and after that, nothing really mattered much except watching you skin fall off and betting who would be the last person on earth to die, and how long. (CW said girl, South African or Tierra del Fuegoian, 9 months tops).

        OPEC and the Saudi's tried to use Oil as a Weapon, but pretty much did as much damage to themselves, as the West, as pretty much proved that oil as a weapon, or "control of oil" as a weapon, was useless.

        But in the US MIC, old, disproven ideas, like Strategic Bombing, Useable Nukes, Oil as a Weapon, die hard, because there is so much money to be made from just the idea.

    •  It's about the "security" of oil supplies. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ColoTim

      Prior to about 2005, the domestic sourced oil in the US was on a rapid downward slope due to rapidly decreasing oil production. The price increase and new fracking technology has increased production dramatically. You now can't swing a cat in the US without hitting a barrel of oil.

      Such was not the case in the later part of the 20th century and first decade of the 21st. There were very real fears of not having a secure source of oil. This is one of the reasons the extremely expensive Alberta Tar Sands was started up.

      Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, Syria and Iran were the nexus of global oil production. The Soviet Union was poised on one side and the US on the other.

      By 2010, oil was no longer crucial to the US economy and military. Now it's rare earths in Central Asia and Africa.

  •  Not the Whole Thing. You Missed Why Iran Had a (4+ / 0-)

    Shah to be overthrown.

    See "Perennial Fuckups" and look under "CIA."

    For why the overthrow came as a surprise, see "Perennial Fuckups" and look under CIA.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 11:45:31 AM PDT

  •  BTW, according to the NYT (4+ / 0-)

    The US Ambassador is already in negotiations with the Sunni Opposition, to topple the elected Maliki and replace him with an unelected Sunni.

    •  Democracy! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, Claudius Bombarnac

      They'll love us for the freedom and democracy we spread!

      "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

      by Andrew C White on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 12:05:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But ISIS won't be satisfied with a moderate Sunni (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      limpidglass, ColoTim

      leader of Iraq or Syria. The best the negotiations might do is reduce the number of Sunnis willing to assist or join ISIS.

      Frankly, I think there is too much blood under the bridge for a peaceful solution. ISIS has tasted victory and are more than willing to give up their lives to continue the jihad. Never in modern times has a non-state group taken such a large amount of territory. We have to go back hundreds of years to find a parallel.

      These Wahhabi takfiri jihadists are a whole new breed that makes Al Qaeda look like the boy scouts. They have taken terror to an entirely new level. They also have a tremendous amount of funding, said to be in the millions of $/day, that is not dependent on outside sources. Al Qaeda has always been controllable by Saudi and other Gulf interests by selective funding of their activities.

      This all makes me wonder why Bandar Bush took a leave of absence in Aprile. He was a key figure in controlling the Al Qaeda franchise to a certain extent. Maybe the Kingdom is pissed he lost control?

      Blow-back rears it's nasty head again. When you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind.

      •  I don't see this settling down to a steady state (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Claudius Bombarnac, ColoTim

        anytime soon, either.

        There is no way ISIS will settle for anything other than becoming the government of Iraq. Or at least toppling the government and carving out as much of Iraq as they can to build their Caliphate.

        If this is all just a Saudi ploy to give Maliki the boot and install a moderate Sunni government, it seems they could have found an easier way.

        If this is a Saudi ploy to sucker the Iranians into an endless war near their borders, I don't see how they can stop that from morphing into the first scenario I described. You turn these guys loose, they'll run wild. In order to bleed the Iranians, you'd have to support ISIS long-term, allow them to take tons of Iraqi territory. They would end up in charge of huge chunks of Iraq, and it's not clear they would stop at the Iranian border, either.

        Nothing else computes. ISIS is going for the whole enchilada, and it's hard to see what could stop them. Unless the US is willing to openly break with the Gulf monarchies by using force against ISIS--which would lead to a third Iraq war which would make the others look like a church bingo night by comparison. And it might well precipitate the fall of the House of Saud.

        "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

        by limpidglass on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 12:36:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  30k+ US troops in Iraq region already.... (2+ / 0-)
    President Obama said the US would build up its military assets in the region.

    Yesterday we published an AP-compiled list of those assets, mentioning six warships in the Persian Gulf and about 5,000 U.S. soldiers across the border in Kuwait.

    That list did not capture the number of troops as just described by an unnamed US official to the New York Times:
    More than 30,000 US troops in the Iraq region at sea and ashore, US official says.

    http://www.theguardian.com/...

    _______________The DOD/ War Department, which consumes 22% of the national budget, is the world's largest employer with 3.2 million employees.

    by allenjo on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 12:03:05 PM PDT

  •  supposedly, wind and solar aren't "economical" (3+ / 0-)

    how much does the US military cost? Add that to the price of your gasoline and heating oil.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 12:35:27 PM PDT

  •  Let's just go back to the Sykes–Picot Agreement (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Claudius Bombarnac

    and start over.

    In addition both Sykes and Picot should be fired and forced give back any bonuses they were paid.

    Rivers are horses and kayaks are their saddles

    by River Rover on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 12:45:42 PM PDT

  •  Today's relevant problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    schumann

    is that Obama and friends must decide whether to protect our embassy or again send "advisers" in the glorious footsteps of Vietnam in the 60s through our most recent middle Eastern forays. Whenever I hear advisers now my skin gets a familiar crawling sensation and the rest of the world gets a sudden burning sensation.

    Republican Alternative - The Ultimate Oxymoron

    by pholkiephred on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 01:50:43 PM PDT

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