Iraq: mother of refugee crises. Part 1.

Blog No. 56.

In this blog I intend to continue with the series on the current refugee crisis. The first dealing directly with the origins of the problem looked at the question of Libya (population 6 million.) Click: Libya

This blog will deal with the question of Iraq (population 33 million). Others in the series will be Afghanistan (population 30 million), Syria (population 22 million) and Somalia (population 10 million.) Though the refugees have not yet started to arrive, Yemen (population 24 million) thanks to Saudi Arabia’s American supported efforts, will almost certainly follow.  In light of the recent UN announcement that Gaza, with its 1.5 million residents (already refugees from Israel’s earlier ethnic cleansings) will be uninhabitable by 2020, Click: Gaza  a fresh flux of Palestinians may well follow or coincide with the Yemeni wave.

In the now, thanks to Russian intervention,  less likely event of an ISIS triumph in Syria, the approx. half of the population that have supported the Syrian government, will also be put to flight. We can only be thankful that Israel’s determined and prolonged attempt to break up the Iranian state (population 78 million) finally appears to have failed.

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September 2015: Russian combat aircraft on Syrian tarmac.

As so much is happening and I only burden my readers with one approx. 3000 word blog every other week, it’ll be sometime before I complete my full exposition on the subject. In the meantime, I have an exceptionally well-informed friend, Bob Rigg of Wellington, who recently sent me an up-to-date summary and backgrounding of the current refugee situation. This, I include below and which, as you will see, is written in a far clearer prose than my own.

“ [I was corresponding with a friend yesterday, and produced the following brief and concentrated take on the origins of the refugee crisis. In it I emphasise that I had “no time and space for complex differentiation and lots of relative clauses.” But I hope that you will at least find it interesting…] I will struggle to restrict myself to not too many lines.

Towards the end of 2014 the EU adopted a Tony Abbott solution to the problem, then mainly affecting Italy, with refugees mainly arriving in droves via Nth Africa: restrict the budget for rescue operations. That is, as the Germans would say, im Klartext, let the buggers drown and hope that they will stop coming. Well, they kept on coming, they drowned in ever larger numbers, and the EU was simply forced to abandon its policy.

I have to simplify here, no time and space for complex differentiation and lots of relative clauses. The west is primarily responsible for the utter destruction, not just of societies from Afghanistan to Iraq, Syria, and is now living with the consequences of its own misbegotten policies in Central Asia and the Middle East. If you look at images of ruined Afghan, Syrian and Iraqi cities, not to speak of Libya, you are reminded of Dresden and Tokyo after US firebombing. Utter devastation, whose human consequences have been there for all to see for many years.

When I was little I was told that this region was the cradle of civilisation. We have now bombed it back into the stone age and have forced its populations to live lives of abject misery, all in the name of freedom, democracy, and oil. Not just refugees but internally displaced persons – refugees in their own countries. Dehumanising and dehumanised living conditions for countless millions. One in four Lebanese is a refugee. Jordan is also sinking beneath the waves of refugees. The economies of these two small, politically vulnerable countries have been under enormous stress. The west has failed to support them. Although Turkey is far more powerful than these two countries it has also been struggling with a major refugee problem for years. Europe and the US have known all about this, but have provided very miserly support, while continuing to generously fund their malfunctioning war games in the ME. For example, the most recent US attempt, at a cost of $500 million, to train and arm 50 “moderate” insurgents, almost all of whom were captured and killed as soon as they went into battle! That amount would have been very gratefully received by refugee agencies in the region.

About one month ago the UN refugee agencies in Syria had to tell refugees in their refugee camps that they had run out of funds, and would be unable to continue to provide food. If I had been one of those refugees, I would have joined the flight to Europe.

Yes, if the US and the west had not persistently superimposed their own grand colonial misconceptions on the ME, if they had acted generously over the years to support the massive numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, and if they had sought peace, not war, what is now happening might well not have happened.

But it has happened. And all that the Europeans could do is what they are mostly doing, welcome the refugees. If they welcome the refugees and actively support their integration, not permitting them to form an alienated angry underclass, it could actually work out to their advantage. Germany’s demography in particular means that it urgently needs immigration. The core EU countries such as Germany and France have ageing populations, with far too few young folk in 20 years’ time to sustain economic development. These migrants could serve the national self-interest in the medium term, if they are welcomed and integrated.

I am a great admirer of Angela Merkel. Germany is now the moral leader in the community of nations, something which most Germans are loving. It’s a nice change! She is very canny, and is undoubtedly aware of how this grand gesture could go wrong, but is determined to make resolution of the refugee issue a major national priority and to take the German people with her, while she persistently refuses to allocate 2% of the national budget to defence, as the US is demanding.”

Iraq, the Cradle both of western Civilisation and ISIS, is such an enormous, western manufactured disaster that I will require several blogs to cover it. Having spent my schooldays sharing a study with the son of the last King of Iraq’s foreign minister, and having ever since, remained in friendly and frequent contact with him, I have maintained a well-informed and lively interest in the fate of Iraq.

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Waving farewell to Iraq

It was the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which made me abandon my business and become involved in the search for global governance solutions other than the U.S. government’s view that might gives right. I reasoned that if the world continued to be governed in such an anarchic fashion, there would be no long term future for our species. Nothing has happened since the Western assault on Iraq, to give me hope that there has been a significant change in American attitudes to how the world’s affairs should be conducted. The only change visible is that America is starting to lose its unipolar position. The consequent destabilisation of the status quo has its dangers, but it also holds promise of some better system emerging from the current chaos.

In 2004, shortly after the Coalition of the willing invaded Iraq I wrote a three-part article on what I then saw as the driving forces behind the invasion. No one would publish it at the time and so it has remained in a file until now. I must have read a thousand articles on the subject since this was written, but nothing in them has given me cause to think that what I wrote so close to the event, has dated in any significant way.

Though America’s relationship with Israel might have matured in the meantime, what I wrote concerning that obeisance was absolutely valid at the time of writing. The same goes for my comments regarding global oil supplies – that was the situation at the time, which would have been factored into the decision-makers calculations. To lighten the mix, I have now embellished my original text with the odd hyperlink and photo. To ease the reader’s digestion, this Iraq series will consist of up to five separate courses. The three parts written in 2004 will be followed by a prequel, dealing with the First Gulf War (Desert Shield 1990-91) events leading up to it and the subsequent UN sanctions regime and WMD search charade. Finally, there will be a sequel dealing with the post 2004 period in which American policies, advertently or inadvertently, have given birth to ISIS.

The first part of my 2004 article was titled:

Israel’s Benefit from the Coalition’s War on Iraq. Part I. Target Acquisition.

The conventional wisdom among students of international relations is that nations endeavour to conduct their foreign policy in pursuit of their own interests. However, in democracies, the purity of the national interest motive can take second place to the pursuit of re-election by one political clique or another. This effect has been particularly apparent in “the greatest” of all democracies, the USA.

Since World War II and the Truman election campaign, where the partition of Palestine and the creation of a Zionist state abroad was directly traded for Jewish votes and Jewish-controlled media sympathy at home, the borderline in American foreign policy decisions between Israeli national interest and American national interest has remained blurred. In regards to American Middle Eastern policy during the Bush Jnr. Administration this blurring of interests has lessened. Events since the Bush Jnr. administration took office might indicate that American Middle Eastern policy is being conducted more for Israeli than American advantage.

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The American Israel Public Affairs Committee: Aiding Israel’s Political Allies into Congress

Those following the case, will be familiar with Ariel Sharon’s remarks on October 3rd, 2001 when, during a Cabinet row with Simon Peres, and which were reported (only once) on Israeli radio, “Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that… I want to tell you something very clear: Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it.” Actions speak louder than words and events subsequent to Mr Sharon’s indiscretion, point towards the accuracy of his claim.

Given the well-known adage of Middle Eastern political life that “My enemy’s enemy is my friend,” it was obvious that something did not ring true, when Mr Bush delivered his State of the Union address just four months after the destruction of the Twin Towers. This was the notorious “Axis of Evil” speech in which he declared that both Iraq and Iran (together with North Korea) were simultaneously top of America’s hit list. At that time, Iran was making tentative movements towards democracy and away from the fundamental Shia theocracy that had earlier caused the USA so much grief. Furthermore, Iran, as a Shia society was not a natural ally of the Wahhabi al Qaeda. Most importantly, Iran was utterly hostile to Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.

If, for whatever reason, the USA was set on an assault on Iraq, why make a gratuitous announcement to cut off the possibility of cooperation with Saddam’s enemy? The only thing, which could see both Iran and Iraq lumped into the same category, was their mutual hostility to Israel. Iraq was Israel’s enemy No 1 and Iran its enemy No 2.

From the objective of American foreign policy interests, there was no reason to place them in the same order. Had America’s target been Al Qaeda, it would have made more sense to target Iran than Iraq. If one of the two had to be assaulted, Iran at least had a common frontier with Al Qaeda’s military stronghold and a regime that didn’t lack for religious fanatics, albeit of a different sect, some of whom might be induced to find common ground with bin Laden’s mindset. After the event, the claim has emerged from the recent Congressional enquiry, that the Twin Towers hijackers received a free right of transit through Iran on the way to fulfil their mission (with or without the regime’s involvement.) In contrast, the secular regime in Iraq had been exceptionally thoroughly purged of Islamic fundamentalist fanatics and its leader was clearly not of a religious temperament. On the face of it, Saddam, who had in the past been used by the Americans as a champion against resurgent Islam, would be quite amenable to being so used again.

In the event, the Americans chose to attack Israel’s (and Al Qaeda’s) Middle Eastern enemy No 1, and at the same time take steps to ensure that Israel’s enemy No 2 also remained an enemy of America.

Given the preponderance of military or militaristic thought in White House councils in the immediate post Twin Towers era, (to the extent that Vice-President Cheney’s wife is even reputed to have bought camouflage rompers for her baby grandson,) it is hard to believe that no one considered the first and most important of Clauswitz’s Principles of War: the Selection and the Maintenance of the Aim. The military goal selected immediately after 9/11 was the complete de-Talibanisation and de-Qaedaisation of Afghanistan and the resurrection of Afghanistan as a successful, democratic and economically viable state. Such an achievement would have provided a model of how predominantly Christian nations could help predominantly Moslem nations and a refutation of Al Qaeda’s main thesis.

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One of the many problems with de-Talibanisation

Instead of maintaining the aim and seeing the job through, the Americans dropped Afghanistan in as much or in more of a mess as when they found it and went off to fight another war, which, in terms of America’s perceived national interest of waging war against Islamic fundamental terrorism, should have been about the lowest priority target.

The decision begs the question, given that the decision to invade Iraq at that time was not in America’s best interest, in whose interest was it made? There were only two possible beneficiaries, Israel and Al Qaeda. Readers can take their pick as to which of these two America was most interested in pleasing.

The next two blogs on this subject will be titled:

Israel’s Benefit from the Coalition’s War on Iraq. Part II. The Inherited Plan.

Israel’s Contribution to the Coalition’s War on Iraq. Part III. The New Iraqi Regime.

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