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View Diary: Why I Blogged the War - Why I Stopped (116 comments)

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  •  It's so easy and comforting really (17+ / 0-)

    to see these things in black and white.

    You note earlier that you had not been in the region, yet you were "right about everything". Well, I work in the region, and all I see are shades of grey. Some of my friends in Baghdad are sympathetic to the Assad regime, because they see the rebels as linked to the Sunni insurgency in Iraq which continues to set off bombs in their city. One dear friend is a doctor who fought Saddam as a teenager in the 91 rebellion. He is a devout (Shi'a) Muslim, who has a nuanced view of the US role in Iraq. He doesn't think the US is trying to control Iraq's oil wealth and thinks that the motivations for the war were complex - some good, some bad, but that the actual US policy in Iraq was incompetent. He's not so nuanced on Syria, and shared Glenn Beck on his FB page spouting conspiracy theories about how Obama is a secret Muslim supporting al Qaeda. His perspective on Iraq is different from yours, but on Syria, it's similar: Obama has taken sides and is actually an ally of al Qaeda.

    And then there's a former co-worker of mine in the US, who was born in Syria and strongly protested the US invasion of Iraq. He returned to Syria and joined the opposition. He has turned from an opponent of intervention to someone who is horrified and incredulous that the Obama Administration failed to respond militarily to chemical weapons attacks in the very neighborhood in which he was born. If you ask him whether the US is trying to destabilize Syria as part of a wider effort to maintain control over the Middle East, per your conspiracy theory, he will look at you like you are crazy. He just wishes that the US would give a flying f@ck about Syria. He is closer to the conflict, and he sees the Obama Administration motivated primarily by a desire to avoid another war, and if anything, way too accommodating of the Assad/Iran side of the conflict.

    What we have here is a very complicated conflict resulting not just from US imperialism, but from pre-existing ethnosectarian differences exacerbated by arbitrary borders and a very rough transition from a highly developed but pre-modern Ottoman Empire. Add to that regional competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, along with the end of the Cold War and gradual decay of Arab Nationalist one-party states, and competition over who gets to control or protect oil, and you get a very messy situation instead. Its easier and more comforting to blame the war on neocolonialism, simplify it to proxy forces trained by the US to take control over oil resources, and feel anguish about discerning the pattern but having no power to influence the outcome. I would suggest that you actually spend time in Iraq, Lebanon or Syria, but there are already too many people there already who were "right on everything" and quite convinced that these conflicts are easily explained by one conspiracy theory or another, or easily resolved once the US gets out.

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 10:25:43 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  I think that it is safe to say that it is a very (7+ / 0-)

      long list of competing screwed up factors that contributes to the continued instability in the Middle East and Central Asia.

      One or another aspect of the dynamics at play usually comes to the fore when one or another competing faction is dominating.  

      Bush's invasion of Iraq under false premises and with fantastical prognostications about being greeted with flowers is not a conspiracy theory.  It is history - real and factual history.  Bush-Cheney are not men of conscience who set out to free anyone.  They certainly do not hold any high regard for democracy.  They were motivated by power and greed as they and their band of political and military thieves always were.

      I think that it is safe to say that Cheney, et al had designs on Iraq's oil; that the US has contributed greatly to instability in these regions; but these regions have made themselves vulnerable, too in many, many ways.

      ivorybill, I know that you work hard in the region and I applaud you for that.  I am grateful, actually.  But the only thing I really know is this political and cultural environment and that's where my focus is.  I don't think that we are helping the world.  I think that the US is lost and needs to get itself back together before we have any real credibility to tell anyone else what they need to do.  I think that the overwhelming support of the Iraq War in this country was proof positive that our country lacks empathy.  I am not an isolationist, but I do believe that we should try a lot harder to think about the phrase, "first do no harm" before we go off all half cocked and bang up countries killing millions of people in the name of freedom - something we hardly understand anymore here much less in the context of a completely foreign country and culture.

      I would say that we could debate the relative impact of all of the competing issues, and think that that is a more productive conversation.

    •  Amen. (& rAmen ;-) ) nt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Heart of the Rockies

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