Saturday, August 09, 2014

Is There An Iraq?

The headline on the story was: “Blumenthal, Murphy Issue Statements On Iraq.”

But in fact, there is no more Iraq. The country, etched out by British colonialists in 1920 after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, has been partitioned, somewhat like Ukraine, by principalities and powers that never were and never will be friendly to the United States.

President Barack Obama some time ago, leaning into then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s air space, clasped him him robustly on the arm, and advised, unaware that his mike was hot, that following the election, he would have much more “flexibility” to decide, among other things, whether or not to place defensive  missiles in Eastern Europe.  It was a schmooze moment, and Mr. Medvedev promised to carry the message to Vladmir Putin, Czar of all the Russians.

What has all the schmoozing amounted to? Following Mr. Obama’s disinclination to place defense weapons in Poland and one of the Baltic States, Mr. Putin, playing host to American super spy Edward Snowden, five months ago annexed the Crimea, considered a part of Ukraine. Mr. Putin has now positioned  17 battalions — totaling 19,000 to 21,000 troops – of Russian troops along Ukraine’s eastern border, ready at a moment's notice to rush in and protect Russian nationals in Ukraine from the presumed depredations of the Ukrainian government.

The West, including the United States, has responded to the partition of Ukraine by wringing its hands and making pointless appeals both to the Un-United Nations and a Putin whose upper lip is very stiff indeed. Much of Europe’s energy is supplied by Russia through pipe lines that traverse Ukraine. The United States might have prepared itself to offset losses in European energy by harvesting energy supplies under its feet and in Canada. But any attempt to relieve Europe’s anxieties – and, at the same  time, to make lots of money with which the United States might begin to pay down its obscene national debt – inevitably will crash against the rocky resistance of the environmental lobby.

So then -- no oil for Europe and no defensive weapons in Poland or the Baltic states.  This posture is not an inducement to keep the Russian Bear from wandering across its borders and clawing its neighbors.  Oh Yes, not to forget, a few months ago, a flexible Mr. Obama turned over his Syrian portfolio to Mr. Putin, who no doubt was grateful for the show of friendship.

Mr. Obama has withdrawn from both Afghanistan – not a bad idea; the country is not known for nothing as the “graveyard of empires” – and Iraq, which is not a good idea, because devils have rushed in where American angels fear to tread.

The devil is ISIS, bent upon destroying the Kurds, always friendly to the United States, and establishing a caliphate in a dismembered Iraq. ISIS has expressed its distaste for all things Western and Christian by crucifying Christians.

This is the background against which the press releases of Connecticut’s two U.S. Senators, Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, should assessed.

 Here is Mr. Blumenthal’s full statement:

“I oppose open-ended military commitments, which the President’s actions in Iraq could become. Humanitarian relief is necessary to prevent genocide and provide food and water to meet an urgent emergency, but the President owes the American people a better, fuller explanation of the scope and strategy of military actions. I am deeply concerned that these actions could lead to prolonged direct military involvement, which I would strongly oppose.

“As a condition for any military aid in Iraq, I have said that there must be a new government that is inclusive and unifying. I continue to believe that the current situation in Iraq is a failure of Iraq’s leaders, who have used the security forces – with training and equipment we provided – for their own sectarian ends, rather than uniting their country. It is also a consequence of the failure of the international community to contain the ongoing civil war in Syria. I support the President’s diplomatic effort to work with Iraqi leaders and the countries in the region to support stability in Iraq.”

Mr. Murphy issued his statement as a letter to his constituency

“Americans will not support a new open ended military campaign in Iraq.

“The president has stated that his goals for immediate humanitarian and military action in Iraq are extremely limited – to prevent a genocide of the Yezidi community and protect American personnel from imminent harm.

“These are legitimate reasons for action, but the president needs to better explain how this intervention is strictly time and scope limited.

“The risk is that this intervention draws us into the broader fight between Sunni and Shia forces in Iraq. This is a fight the United States must stay out of, and I will oppose any efforts to continue this military campaign in order to provide tactical advantage or disadvantage to either side of this conflict.

“I’d love to hear what you think, and the best way to sound off and ensure I’ll see it is on social media.

“Like President Obama, I was elected to end America’s recent history of military hubris in the Middle East.

“Many of my colleagues have called on the president to endorse a broader strategy aimed at tipping the military balance inside Iraq.

“They are wrong, and such action would march our nation down a familiar and disastrous course.

“Americans will support taking action abroad to protect against genocide and to keep Americans safe, but our war weary nation draws a firm line on the other side of those limited ends.

“Thanks for reading.”
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