Sunday, May 07, 2006

History Books (Part 2)

(This is a follow up to Part 1)

This is where I really wish we had some of the competent diplomats that usually come along with a Republican administration in Washington. I think the egg head neocons have walked us straight into a Chinese trap, and we're going to have to work like hell to get out of it. Was Sun Tzu's The Art of War not on the reading list for the University of Chicago? For years, we have put a lot of stake in the idea that making China a partner would take some of the bite out of their teeth. I think they have been playing us.

Because of the ineptitude or downright neocon fantasy-land that dominates the political leadership of the American international relations community and diplomatic corps, we have ignored a great deal of what has allowed us to prosper: the fact that the rest of the world can't stand the rest of the world. There were two things that kept them from teaming up against us: 1) they had no leading nation to organize resistance and 2) we were very careful not to make so many violent enemies at once without bringin' the whole posse with us.

But, today we ignore that.

The best example is our current flash point: Iran. For some reason, the West has failed to get Iran on our side when numerous opportunities have presented themselves. There was, of course, Operation Ajax, which poisoned the waters. The next pro-democracy revolution was also hijacked, this time by Khomeinists.

So began the time of calling Americans ifidels and of driving Israel into the sea. Even then, we could have overcome that rhetoric with a little diplomatc shrewdness.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a majority Shi'a Muslim nation. The rest of the Muslim world is heavily Sunni Muslim. Their relationship is somewhat...strained. Like the Protestants and Catholics of the not-too-long-ago-West, Sunni - especially Wahhabi Sunnis - seek to destroy the Shi'a. Iran, surrounded by a sea of religious enemies (not unlike Israel, as a matter of fact), decided (rationally) to do something that would keep other Muslim nations from teaming up and destroying them: attack the percieved enemies of all Muslims - Israel, both rhetorically and militarily. How could Saudi Arabia, Afganistan & Pakistan team up against an ally against a common enemy?

Our nation has a long history of keeping the peace by playing powerful enemies off one another and the longstanding enmity and distrust that existed between the Soviet Union and Red China is testament to that skill. It would seem rational for us to exploit the rift in the Muslim world and keep a more palpable tension between Shi'a and Sunni factions (that sure could have saved a lot of Israeli lives). Instead of exploiting this rift to our own advantage - and that rift is still very much alive today, neocons arrived on the scene in the '80's. With their coming of age, we cast our entire lot in with the Wahhabist Saudis and the brutal secular dictator in Saddam Hussein. We cast all of our dice against Iran, and we cast it against all Iranians, ignoring the deep internal divisions within Iranian society.

Iran is an island, and the only rational ways they can defend themselves is to keep up the rhetoric against Israel and the United States until they develop a nuclear bomb. If I was an Iranian leader, I'd be racing towards a nuclear bomb and I'd be racing to ally myself with China and Russia. They are a nation acting rationally to defend themselves in a sea of enemies.

Besides, what happens when Iran tells the rest of the world that they "will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of [their] country?"

I guess we'll have to find out. Let us hope calmer heads prevail so we don't have to find out the hard way.


S.A.W.B. said...

paT, you seem to think that the troubles with Iran started in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected in a landslide against one Jimmy Carter. Reagan didn't just turn on the faucet of hate against Iran, the American public had long since broken the knob off of that spigot.

Or, perhaps, you choose to forget that after the 'student uprising' in '79, when the 'students' seized the American embassy, and held 52 American Citizens for 444 days?

Don't forget Carter's disastrous attempts at a rescue of the hostages, which might be considered laughable at best, and tragic at worst.

But hey, then you couldn't just heap the blame on dumb, egg-headed, neocons, whose diplomatic skills rival that of pond scum.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Well, I don't think our troubles with Iran started in the '80s, (or even the 20th Century for that matter) but I think our behavior since the 80's has exacerbated the problems with Iran, and through them the Middle East.

I also know that the 'student uprising' occured months after the departure of the Shah, and marked the actual hijacking of the Revolution by the Khomeinists.

I do not forget Carter's foregin policies, and you better than anyone know that my critique of Democratic foreign policy is just as deep as my critique of Republican foregin policy.

But in this instance, specifically the case with Iran and more generally with the Middle East, my critique runs heavily against the neocons - since they are the ones who have had the heaviest hand on US Middle Eastern foreign policy.

patsbrother said...

Pat, why don't you try and back that thing up, yo? The US of A had problems with Iran prior to the 20th Century? Really?

Name them.

Please address the pesky facts that we were isolationists back in the day and that "Iran" didn't exist until 1935.

VDOPM said...

Perhaps there's a semantics issue here.

Either Pat means that our troubles are rooted in issues that reach beyond the 20th century, and are manifesting themselves through Iran at this time; or,

Pat slipped up and made a mistake.

I would agree with Pat if he were saying that our issues with most Muslim states go much deeper than the 1970s.

patsbrother said...

vdopm, its absolutely lovely that you would extend the benefit of the doubt, but there are limits.

If Pat was merely saying problems between our two states go back further than the 1970s, he needs a refresher on how we in the West demarcate centuries.

If Pat's referring to problems with colonization, that was never a problem WE had with Iran. That was a problem between the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and Persia. And Persia wasn't the problem. Thus, I call shenanigans.

You will not rob me of this explanation. It promises to be slap-dash amazing.

VDOPM said...

Semantics, even still.

Funny enough, I know exactly where both of you are coming from, and agree with both - but that's probably because I'm not interested in slap-dash amazing responses nor am I interested in stealing your lovely thunder here.

Patrick Armstrong said...

I wish we could have a constructive conversation once in a while....

"If Pat was merely saying problems between our two states go back further than the 1970s, he needs a refresher on how we in the West demarcate centuries."

I am exactly saying that the problems between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran (as well as any governments previously in governance of the aforementioned states) were occuring before the 1970's. That is why I refrenced Operation Ajax (events occuring in the 1950's) in my original post.

Sounds like you need a refresher course in how we here in the West demarcate decades, boy-wonder.

To additionally defend my semantics, my statement was: "I don't think our troubles with Iran started in the '80s." Pesky fact: our troubles with Iran (Persia etc, etc) did not start in the 80's. They started before the '80's.

As an aside, commonly indicated in the English language (at least by me) by putting statements in parentheses "()", I also indicated that "[I don't think our troubles with Iran started in] the 20th Century, for that matter."
Pesky fact: Patrick doesn't think that America's problems with Iran (Persia etc, etc) started in the 20th Century. He thinks the problems started before that for verious and sundry reasons that have very little to do with the topic of the thread.

Patrick Armstrong said...

VDOPM. How do you feel about the current situation with Iran?

SAWB. What do you think the neocons have gotten right in regards to Iran specifically, or the Middle East in general?

patsbrother said...

My problem with people randomly using hyperbole as fact regarding the Middle East: ignorance ain't going to help create a solution, and when those that should know better play fast and loose with what sounds like facts, our problems get bigger.

After 9/11, one thing that really got my blood boiling was a Wolf Blitzer site on called "Middle East 101: Centuries of Conflict". It's focus was on Arab-Israeli relations. Which started with the Arab Revolt in 1929, when Palestinians got pissed off the British consistently enforced laws against them in favor of Zionists, and failed to enforce laws against Zionists in favor of them. Before that, oh, you have to skip to wars fought by the Ottoman Empire some 300 years before (which, dear readers, I hope you realize has nothing to do with Isreal).

If you're rolling you eyes, saying come on, I will point out that the implication - THESE people have been fighting for thousands of years, that's all they know, they're just troublemakers - is false, unhelpful, and prevalent. I refer you to my father.

That's why (call it semantics if you want) I get annoyed when someone who purports to have an encyclopedic knowledge of world history makes an unsubstantiated statement that plays up stereotypes that it would be in all our best interests to dispell.

So Pat, I have made this the topic of this thread. Now, inform us what problems Iran/Persia caused the United States before the past century.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Done. Hopefully we can move on now.