Plummeting oil prices and 13 years of official looting leave Iraq on the brink

I’m not defending Bush by no means but situation on ground is very much comparable. Interventions sure didn’t stop atrocities. In fact if anything they exasperated them.

You can call it whatever you like, the point is that no outside power has , in modern history, been able to instill the level of organization required to be a modern first world country in a people who didn’t already have it. Rather than dismissing that simple fact by calling it “patronizing,” you might try to come up with a counterexample before you dismiss it.

In the case of Iraq, they were pretty much screwed to begin with by national borders drawn (poorly) by the British. I suspect that the only “middle level” options available to Iraq are either a sufficiently brutal and ruthless strongman (like the one we deposed) or a partition, which wasn’t a solution we could diplomatically support, but is pretty much what’s happening anyway now. In the event of a successful partition, I expect that, if they can avoid being constantly bombed and invaded by their neighbors, the Kurds will be doing pretty well in a generation or so, the shiites will be a client state of Iran, and the sunnis will wind up like a mini-pakistan.


The Middle East is different than Europe, that isn’t patronizing. The culture there is different, their history is different. Cultures in that region are very different than European ( or even Asian) cultures. Expecting them to magically become European was idiotic, and perhaps downright imperialistic.

First, they might not want to be"us", they might not share the same cultural values that we find so natural that we don’t even realize that they are somewhat arbitrary. Second, they don’t share thousands of years of common culture which lead to our industrialized liberal democracies. Third, religion, Islam might be very different than whatever Christianity and Judaism evolved into. Fourth, Western colonialism and imperialism is a very recent memory in the region, so they have a view that we can’t reconcile since we never experienced it in recent cultural memory (or to the extent they did, we were Europeans living under our own people’s thumb, not under some alien civilisations).

We have been trying to “fix” the middle East for 200 years. Perhaps we should give up? Sure, if they ask for the tools to fix themselves, in their own way… By all means help. But perhaps not everyone wants to be just like us.


I’m not saying the US helped things, but Iraq has been fucked for decades before we got there. Sadly I think this was a missed opportunity once they were free of Sadam.

Interesting article linked in the main article as well:

Well, not like we helped selling arms to Saddam and backing his dirty little war with Iran. To imagine that we bear only marginal responsibility for the situation is really passing the buck for what we’ve done.

Thanks. I’m not sure how I feel about Kurdish independence. How much of this is just related to our own political and geo-strategic needs and how much is based on the needs of the Kurdish people. Maybe instead of us redrawing the boundaries, we let the people who live there actually do that.


I’ve said it before, the US is fine with dictators if:

  1. They play ball.

  2. Their country has something we want.

  3. They keep things relatively stable.


I’m sure I’ve said it before… fuck that noise. We need to start putting human rights first, instead of using it as a tool of imperialism. It’s time for this country to start actually giving it a shit about it’s own citizens and the rest of humanity out there. We’re driving the world toward a major cliff here and we need to maybe stop the care, take stock and maybe drive in a different direction.

Do you think that the enemy of our enemy is our friend has been in anyway a productive strategy, given that it’s given us outcomes like Al-Qaeda and Daesh?


I didn’t say it was a good thing. Just that it has been SOP for a long time.

On the other hand though, pretty much every time we have tried to take down a dictator, other than WWII, it hasn’t gone too well. The optimist in me thought freedom and democracy would spread with Sadam and the Taliban removed from power. But that didn’t work out so well… My thoughts on the matter now is that like a heroin addict, change needs to come from within.


I think we agree that SOP needs to be changed, because it hasn’t helped. We live in the world we forged and its not going to change until we push our government to change.


Saudi’s plan is coming together. Remove someone else the US could turn to as an ally in the region while also pricing a competitor out of the market.


It’s harder to end a war than begin one. Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq -– all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering -– all of it has led to this moment of success. Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.

Barack Obama, 14 December 2011

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As my dad used to say, if you stumble on a rattlesnake, you’ve either got to kill it or leave it alone. If you are not ready to take action to stop atrocities, you’d best not talk tough.


That is essentially what’s happening now. Also, I guarantee you that the Kurds want independence. It’s all the people around them that don’t want that, including some of our allies.

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No. what’s happening there right now is endless proxy wars and political fighting and economic power grabs disguised as religious tensions. To think that’s disconnected from our interventions in the region (or British/French interventions prior to us) is to ignore history.

That’s no secret. They’ve wanted it for a while now, and only recently have we paid any attention to them… just not the ones in Turkey, because reasons.


Pre-war Iraq had a lot of mechanisms that we expect to see in a normal state, it had functional (abusive but operational) executive government, it had an army, a police force, secret service, fire department, network of schools and universities, health care etc. It even had a middle class. It was largely composed of Baatist members, but in a single party state that is the norm. In short it was not all that different from let’s say Romania was in 1991 after the fall of Ceausescu.

I think that main thing that was lacking here was a motivation of occupying power. In case of Germany and Japan, there was a clear need to build up a strong ally to contain communist USSR and China, i.e. an enemy that was seen as actual existential threat and not a minor nuisance.

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You do realise that liberal democracy was a relatively rare concept in Europe as recently as 1970ies? European countries have a tendency of slipping in and out of one or anther form of totalitarianism with disturbing frequency.

True, but the design has been there for a long time, unlike in a lot of other places. Their isn’t really a Middle Eastern Magna Carta, or American Revolution, or French Revolution, or Thomas Paine. Much less Adam Smith, stock exchanges (which arose from imperialism in the east and middle east), or secular law or education.

I wonder how the Japanese feel about MacArthur at this remove.

Turkey has secular government ever since the end of WWI. Ba’ath party that run the show in both Syria and Iraq was very much secular to its core.

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Someone should remind Erdogan of that idea, since he seems to have forgotten.

But true enough… We made it a priority to privilege religiously oriented regimes in the region since the Cold War (except for Iran, because reasons).