The conventional wisdom is that Iraq will descend into chaos, the chaos will lead to regional conflict, and the regional conflict will hurt our interests in the Middle East.
Do you believe it?
The interesting thing about conventional wisdom is that it is almost always wrong. In fact, it’s an oxymoron. If ideas or opinions are conventional, they represent the status quo or the majority view, which are always a step behind the changing times or latest information. “For chrissake, Columbus, we all know the world is flat!”
So if you’re looking for wisdom, look elsewhere; don’t look to the same so-called authorities (or their proteges) who brought you the Vietnam War, the debacle in Central America, and the disaster in Iraq. That said, let’s examine the fallacy of each premise espoused by today’s leading lunkheads about what will happen if we withdraw our troops from Iraq.
Iraq Will Descend into Chaos
If the deaths of hundreds of thousands of citizens, the creation of over two million Iraqi refugees, and the miserable day-to-day existence of suicide bombings, mass unemployment and a collapsed infrastructure are not evidence of a country in chaos, I’d like to know what is.
But it could get even worse! So say those espousing conventional wisdom. Perhaps. But it could also get a lot better. Bear in mind, most Iraqis want America out of Iraq. So if we withdraw all our troops within a six-month time frame, bring in the United Nations, and organize a summit of all of Iraq’s neighbors, including Iran, to put together a peace strategy, the situation would more than likely get better rather than worse.
As a precedent for this, look at what happened in Central America in the 1980s when El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua were all engaged in civil wars. For years the Reagan administration turned a blind eye to the right-wing death squads in each country, trained and funded the Contras in Nicaragua, and supported armed conflict in the region in general, ostensibly to prevent the “godless communists” from taking over Central America. As a result, hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children were slaughtered, including many priests and nuns.
Finally, after years of bloody conflict, and with no chance of a military solution in sight, Congress passed the Boland Amendment, and the Reagan administration grudgingly withdrew its support of the Contras and other warring factions in Central America. At least they pretended to. (See the Iran-Contra Affair for more details on how the right-wing forerunners of the neocons screwed this one up, and how Daddy Bush pardoned all the culprits, including Elliot Abrams, who still works for Junior.)
In the meantime, Oscar Arias, the president of Costa Rica, promoted a peace plan in the region (Esquipulas Peace Agreement) that eventually ended the conflicts and won Arias the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. The same type of strategy could be used in Iraq.
But let’s say a peace initiative like this didn’t work and the chaos in Iraq got even worse. Let’s say the conventional wisdom is right and–
The Chaos in Iraq Will Lead to Regional Conflict
Following this logic, the conflict spreads. Iran backs up the Shiites with money, arms, and perhaps soldiers. Saudi Arabia follows suit and does the same with the Sunnis. The Turks and the Kurds get nervous and start attacking each other. And Al Qaeda? If the Americans are gone, whom do they attack? Sunnis? Not likely. Shiites? Even less likely. Kurds? No reason to. So what happens to Al Qaeda in an all-out Middle East conflict where one Islamic sect and/or country is attacking another? Do they choose sides or pull up stakes and find a new game?
The truth is, without the U.S. in Iraq, Al Qaeda will lose its raison d’etre in that country. Will they “follow us home”? as the leading lunkhead of conventional wisdom has said. Let’s pretend we have half a brain: If Al Qaeda had the wherewithal to attack us at home, they already would have done so. No, the reason they attack us in Iraq is because we’re there. We’re easy targets. Once we’re gone, they may score a few PR points by saying they chased America out of Iraq, but the truth is, they’re left with nothing but a bleak, war-torn environment occupied by hostile Iraqi soldiers and battle-hardened Sunni and Shiite insurgents, some of whom hate their guts.
But what about the rest of Iraq’s Islamic neighbors, like Syria or Jordan or Lebanon? Won’t they join the fight? Doubtful. Do you really think they want to choose sides with either Iran or Saudi Arabia, broaden the conflict, and destroy their own countries? More than likely, they will do everything they can to promote peace. But even if they are dumb enough to get involved, how does that hurt the United States or Israel? It doesn’t. It only hurts the Islamic countries involved in the war. Which is why they will do everything they can to make peace. After all, do you think all these Islamic countries will continue to slaughter each other while the United States and Israel stand on the sidelines and crack “dumb Muslim jokes!”
But let’s say they don’t care. Let’s say they continue to kill each other and blow up their respective countries. Let’s say the conventional wisdom is right and–
The Regional Conflict Will Hurt Our Interests in the Middle East
Now we come down to the real reason the Bush administration and the espousers of conventional wisdom don’t want the government to withdraw U.S. troops from the Middle East: because it will hurt our interests.
And just who are “our interests”? If you haven’t already figured it out, it’s the same group that buys and sells our politicians, the same group that helped Saddam Hussein seize control of the Iraqi government in a 1963 coup and backed him up with money and weapons until the Persian Gulf War, the same group that helped overthrow the democratically elected president of Iran and replace him with the Shah, the same group that is best friends with the royal Saudi family (and the bin Ladin family), the same group that has been bilking the Middle East (and the American people) out of trillions of dollars for over 100 years, the same group that has polluted our environment and called global warming a hoax, and the same group that has prevented the United States from establishing a sweeping national renewable energy program so that we can become truly independent of foreign oil.
Simply put, “our interests” in the Middle East are the interests of Big Oil– and their allies in Congress and the CIA, who do their dirty work. If the Middle East goes up in flames, so does their business. And if the price of oil gets too high and Americans convert to renewable energy en masse, the oil companies lose their power and control over the U.S. and the world.
Therefore, according to conventional wisdom, the U.S. can’t pull our troops out of Iraq until we make it secure for the oil companies to carry out their business, because their interests are supposed to be the same as the interests of the American people. But they’re not. In fact, they’re antithetical to our interests. But as long as Americans continue to believe this lie, we will continue to keep our troops in the Middle East, U.S. soldiers will continue to die needlessly, and a sweeping national renewable energy program will always be just out reach.