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 The US has withdrawn military troops from Iraq.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?