Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Occam’s Razor And The Middle East

The Middle East, we are told, is complex.

That is true, but there is little point in making the complex more complex. We in the West should remember that partisanship and corruption grow in the crevices of complexity. If there were little confusion, we would have no need of experts to smooth a path for us through the complexities.

The simplest explanation for an occurrence is usually the best. We should apply Occam’s Razor, which holds that the more assumptions you must make, the more unlikely your explanation, to all complex conundrums.

To someone like Ali Khamenei, the spiritual leader of Iran, who thinks of the West most often when he is in the mood to destroy it, Western ways may be inscrutable or, to put it another way, complex.

Much of the ferment in the Middle East may be explained with reference to a Sunni/Shia map. Once you have the map in hand, you can deduce policies from it. Iran is Shia, Saudi Arabia Sunni. The two are cats and dogs and agree only that the West – most especially Israel – must be destroyed, although Saudi Arabia these days is less insistent on this point.  Iraq represents an explosive mingling of the two and as such will be caught forever between the two great religious grindstones.

The presence of oil in the Middle East, of course, complicates everything. A relative who went to Saudi Arabia in the 60’s in pursuit of the daughter of an American official and who since has been thoroughly acculturated to the Muslim way of life tells me that oil, rather than religious differences, has destroyed the Saudis. Proof of this is everywhere. We should also note that oil and natural gas are much on the mind of Russian President Vladimir Putin as well.

President Ronald Reagan enlisted Saudi Arabia’s aid in pulling down the Soviet Union contraption. Reagan persuaded the Saudis to cut the price of oil at the same time he was baiting the Russians to expend an exorbitant amount of money in a munitions race. The Russian economy -- over-reliant on oil and weapon sales, even today the county’s most important exportable products -- went belly up. Of course, Pope John Paul II, Solzhenitsyn, Lech Wałęsa and, unwittingly, Mikhail Gorbachev, all bent a shoulder to the wheel.

Putin, who never forgot the lesson, wants to be the primary energy producer to the European West and Middle East. For this reason, Putin supports havoc, principally caused by Iran, perpetually at war against Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Great Satan, America. When President Barack Obama sent blankets rather than defensive missiles to Ukraine, Putin engorged himself on Crimea and supplied war material to Iran which, no doubt, is grateful. Why did Putin do it? Applying Occam’s Razor, we might say oil-czarism demanded it.

Qasem Solimani menaced the Middle East for decades on Iran’s behalf because he could, until he couldn’t. An American drone cut short his career on January 3rd.

He was a busy man, assisting the terrorist organization Hezbollah to draw Lebanon into Iran’s widening orbit, helping to firm up the tottering regime of Bashar al-Assad, a key Iranian ally, assisting in the planning and execution of Russia’s military intervention in Syria, and providing the terrorist militia under his command with powerful, updated IEDs that shattered the limbs of hundreds of American soldiers. Nearly half of American deaths in the Middle East were caused by newly designed IEDs. The Explosively Formed Projectile, or EFP, linked by the U.S. Army to Iranian-backed militias, incorporated a copper plate that, on detonation, turned into molten slugs cutting easily through the armor of any military vehicle, even an M1 tank, with devastating impacts on soldiers.

No tears have been shed over the dispatching of Soleimani by the members of Connecticut’s all-Democrat U.S. Congressional delegation, every member of which approves of the impeachment and the removal from office of President Donald Trump. All agree that that Soleimani was a nasty piece of work, but…

The Day reported one day after the strike on the Middle East’s most potent terrorist that Representative Joe Courtney was concerned: "What is concerning about this situation is not the death of someone who was obviously engaged in malign behavior across the region, but the cycle of escalation between the U.S. and Iran that risks sliding us into war without the President first consulting with the American people, or seeking lawful authorization from Congress pursuant to Article One of the Constitution, said Courtney following a vote in the Democrat dominated U.S. House to reassert the War Powers Resolution of 1973.”

The War Powers Resolution requires congressional notification by the president within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining in an active theater of war for more than 60 days without a Congressional approval of the use of military force.

Military forces have been in Iraq on a war footing, with the approval of Congress, since 2014, when President Barack Obama ordered United States forces to be dispatched to the region.

The much feared Trump “war” between Iran and The United States was over in the blink of an eye. It was, without exaggeration, perhaps the shortest “undeclared war” in U.S. history.

The drone hit on Soleimani did not inspire Iran to declare war against the Great Satan, and following the downing of a Ukrainian commercial jet by a Russian made missile, students in Iran took to the streets demanding the resignation of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The cries of protesting students, many of whom had earlier been murdered by Soleimani -- “Death to the dictator,” “Shame on you Khamenei, leave the country,” “Death to the liars,” “Shame on the Revolutionary Guards, let the country go” – have yet to penetrate the halls of Congress.

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