Stockman: No, Donald, It’s Not a ‘World War’

In 1991 the earth moved…

The cold war ended, and the nuclear sword of Damocles no longer hung over mankind. The totalitarian menace of the Soviet Union disappeared and its vast military establishment was demobilized and mainly sold for scrap.

It was the moment for Washington to do the same. That is, to disband NATO — whose only justification had ever been containment of an exaggerated Soviet threat on the central European front — to demobilize and radically shrink Washington’s globe-spanning war machine.

But what General Eisenhower had warned about exactly 30 years earlier — the deeply entrenched and unchecked military-industrial-congressional complex — was not about to let world peace breakout. Instead, it launched two maneuvers in 1991 to perpetuate itself and renew its raison d’etre.

A secret national security directive drafted by Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and his neocon minions declared Iran the new global enemy. That indictment was wholly unwarranted even then, and over the next 25 years it metastasized into a massive tissue of lies about Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons and terrorist ambitions.

More importantly, Washington declared its hostility towards the only force in the region opposed to Sunni extremism — the so-called Shiite Crescent. That ran from Iran through southern Iraq to the Alawite (Shiite) regime of the Assads in Syria to the Hezbollah controlled provinces of Lebanon. It was the natural, blood enemy of Sunni extremism.

Indeed, the neocons that seized power in Washington under Bush the Elder cut the knees out from under that 13 century-old counterforce to any religiously driven outbreak of Sunni expansionism.

At the same time, Bush was bamboozled into a military intervention between two local potentates over oil drilling rights that was gussied-up into a false doctrine about oil security.

If it wasn’t for those two profoundly wrong-headed and destructive maneuvers, there would be no al-Qaeda and Islamic State today. And jihadi terrorism would have been but a shadow of its current extent.

Needless to say, the implications are epic. Hundreds of millions of innocent people in the Middle East, Europe and the U.S. are now fearful, and sometimes tragically in harm’s way. But it’s mostly because of the grievous misdeeds of our Washington based War Party rulers.

Let’s start with what history has now proven in spades regarding the phony excuse of energy security…

The cure for high oil prices is the global market, not the U.S. 5th fleet, stationed in Bahrain. The real price of oil is lower today than it was in 1990 when Bush said Saddam’s alleged aggression “will not stand”. Yet that happy outcome has nothing whatsoever to do with the thousands of bombs we’ve dropped since then or the millions dead and maimed, or the trillions of tax-dollars Washington has wasted on its multiple wars and far-flung military presence in the region.

On the one hand, technology and business enterprise have generated vast alternatives to Persian Gulf oil on both the supply and conservation side of the energy ledger. On the other, it is an unassailable historic fact that whatever regime controls the oil reserves under the Middle East sands will produce it because every regime in that region always needs more money.

Saddam produced all he could extract and exported all he was allowed by the West. So did Libya’s Kaddafi. So do the Kurds in the north of the old Iraq and the Shiite government in Baghdad which controls the bigger fields in the south. Even the Islamic State produces every oil well we have not yet bombed to smithereens. And once the sanctions were lifted, the “America-hating” Iranians have raised production dramatically in the last year.

In short, every single military intrusion Washington has undertaken since the February 1991 invasion of Kuwait has nothing to do with the economics of oil. Nor has it enhanced the security of gasoline and heating oil supplies in Lincoln, NE and Springfield, MA.

Indeed, the real dirty secret of this matter is that even if the contemptible House Of Saud were to fall, Saudi Arabia’s 10 million barrels per day would — apart from any short-term disruption — make its way onto the world market.

That’s because Saudi Arabia’s eastern provinces, where all the oil fields are located, are primarily Shiite. Their Iranian cousins would absolutely come to their protection, and be more than happy to share in the $150 billion per year of oil revenues at today’s prices. All along, therefore, oil has been about the rule of markets.

But Washington is about the perpetuation of the state and the aggrandizement of its warfare branch. It is the latter, not protection of nature’s bounty under the Arabian sands, that brought the American Imperium to the Persian Gulf and that generates today’s jihadi blowback in the region and rest of the world.

It was 500,000 American troops on the Arabian peninsula and “crusader boots” in the land of the two Islamic holy places that changed everything in 1991.

Until then, the Sunni mujahedeen in Afghanistan were Washington’s mercenary terrorists. Washington had recruited, transported, trained, armed and paid them throughout the 1980s to carry on the anti-Soviet fight by proxy.

The Soviet Union was already dying from the asphyxiating regime of socialism, state bureaucracy and totalitarian rule. But CIA director Bill Casey was mesmerized by the nostalgia of his OSS days during WWII, and his neocon confederates were ex-Trotskyites and statists who did not remotely understand that markets and economic freedom ultimately will out.

After it unnecessarily created the small time nuisance of the mujahedeen, the Washington War party turned it into a monster by virtue of the first gulf war and the subsequent campaign against Saddam Hussein. That of course eventuated in opening the gates to hell during the second gulf war.

So under the false guise of “oil security”, Washington plunged the American war machine into the politics and religious fissures of the Persian Gulf, and launched itself on the path to destroying the very institutions that had kept Sunni extremism in check. Namely, the secular Baathist regimes of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Assad clan in Syria.

To be sure, these regimes were an unsavory amalgam of socialism, nationalism, authoritarianism and vast corruption. But they tolerated no armed threat to their rule, and understood that the state had to be secular if the various ancient sects and schisms of Islam and other religious minorities within their borders, including Christians, Druze and Jews, were to peaceably co-exist.

Apart from false issue of oil security, the small potatoes conflict between Iraq and Kuwait, which occasioned the elder Bush’s intervention, had no bearing whatsoever on the safety and security of American citizens. As U.S. ambassador Glaspie rightly told Saddam Hussein on the eve of his Kuwait invasion, America had no dog in that hunt.

Kuwait wasn’t even a country; it was a bank account sitting on a swath of oilfields surrounding an ancient trading city that had been abandoned by Ibn Saud in the early 20th century. It did not matter who controlled the southern tip of the Rumaila field — the brutal dictator of Baghdad or the opulent Emir of Kuwait. Not the price of oil, nor the peace of America nor the security of Europe nor the future of Asia depended upon it.

But Bush the Elder was persuaded by Henry Kissinger’s protégés at the national security council and his Texas oilman Secretary of State, James Baker, that “oil security” was at stake, and that 500,000 American troops needed to be planted in the sands of Arabia.

That was a catastrophic error. The arrival of crusader boots on the purportedly sacred soil of Arabia offended and reactivated the CIA-trained Mujahedeen of Afghanistan, who had become unemployed when the Soviet Union collapsed.

In due course this feckless intervention enabled the neocons to pursue their deplorable doctrine of regime change to its logical end. That is, the destruction of the tenuous Iraqi state and the resultant rise of the Frankenstein that became ISIS.

Bin Laden would have amputated Saddam’s secularist head if Washington hadn’t done it first, but that’s just the point. The attempt at regime change in March 2003 was one of the most foolish acts of state in American history.

The younger Bush’s neocon advisers had no clue about the sectarian animosities and historical grievances that Hussein had bottled-up by parsing the oil loot and wielding the sword under the banner of Baathist nationalism. But Shock and Awe blew the lid and the de-baathification campaign unleashed the furies. We all know what followed afterwards. And its effects will be felt for decades to come.

Regime change and nation building can never be accomplished by the lethal violence of 21st century armed forces. And they were an especially preposterous assignment in the context of a land rent with 13 century-old religious fissures and animosities.

If bombing really worked, the Islamic State would be sand and gravel by now. Indeed, it is really not much more than that anyway, which contains an important lesson.

The dusty, broken, impoverished towns and villages along the margins of the Euphrates River and in the bombed out precincts of Anbar province do not attract thousands of wannabe jihadists from the failed states of the Middle East and the alienated Muslim townships of Europe because the caliphate offers prosperity, salvation or any future at all.

What recruits them is outrage at the bombs and drones being dropped on Sunni communities by the U.S. Air Force. And by the cruise missiles launched from the Mediterranean which rip apart homes, shops, offices and mosques containing as many innocent civilians as ISIS terrorists.

The truth is, the Islamic State was destined for a short half-life anyway. It was contained by the Kurds in the north and east and by Turkey, with NATO’s second largest army and air force in the northwest. And it was surrounded by the Shiite crescent in the populated, economically viable regions of lower Syria and Iraq.

So absent Washington’s misbegotten campaign to unseat Assad in Damascus and demonize his Iranian ally, there would have been nowhere for the murderous fanatics who pitched a makeshift capital in Raqqa to go. They would have run out of money, recruits, momentum and public acquiesce in their horrific rule in due course.

But with the U.S. Air Force functioning as their recruiting arm and France’s anti-Assad foreign policy helping to foment a final spasm of anarchy in Syria, the gates of hell have been opened wide. What has been puked out is not an organized war on Western civilization as western politicians like Hollande so hysterically proclaim in response to the mayhem of each new incident.

It is just blowback carried out by that infinitesimally small group of mentally deformed young men who can be persuaded to strap on a suicide belt.

Needless to say, bombing won’t stop them; it will just make more of them.

Ironically, what can stop them is the Assad government and the ground forces of its Hezbollah and the Iranian Republican Guard allies. It’s time to let them settle an ancient quarrel that has never been any of America’s business anyway.

But Imperial Washington is so caught up in its myths, lies and hegemonic stupidity that it can not see the obvious. After decades in the region, it has done everything wrong that could be done. It has destroyed the Baathist states that kept religious fanaticism in check; it has alienated the vast crescent of Shiite forces, which are capably armed and have never advocated or launched terrorist attacks in the west.

And it has aligned itself with a few thousand fat, tyrannical princes in Saudi Arabia and the gulf petro-states who would have a shorter tenure, if the people were given a choice, than did the Romanovs. It’s the Saudis’ medievalist Wahhabi regime of religious fanaticism that has recruited, trained, motivated and dispatched more jihadi terrorists than the Iranians ever have.

And that gets to the heart of why there is no ‘world war’ emanating from Islam aimed at the west and America. The Islamic nations are at war with themselves, and have been for centuries, not with us.

To stop the episodic incursions of jihadi terrorism — organized or “inspired” — in the west, Washington does not need to make the desert glow in the backwaters of the upper Euphrates valley. It only needs to vacate the region, and invite the Iranians and their Shiite Crescent allies to finish the job.

The caliphate would be gone in no time. Then, there would be no war zone for recruiting, training and radicalizing the alienated young Muslim men of Europe to return to their home communities on missions of murder and mayhem.

There would be no jihadi fighters and martyrs “heroically” resisting the bombs and drones of the U.S. Air Force to “inspire” copycat acts of violence in the homeland, or to disseminate social media videos and propaganda that appeal to the alienated and mentally troubled losers who have been responsible for most of the recent “terrorist” episodes in the U.S.

But for that constructive resolution to come about Washington’s Big Lies would need to be decisively refuted. Namely, that the Iranian regime has been hell-bent on obtaining nuclear weapons and that it is the leading exporter of terrorism in the Middle East.

However benighted and medieval its religious views, the theocracy which rules Iran does not consist of demented war mongers. In the heat of battle, they were willing to sacrifice their own forces rather than violate their religious scruples to counter Saddam’s chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War.

The truth is, Iran is no better or worse than any of the other major powers in the Middle East. In many ways, it is far less of a threat to regional peace and stability than the military butchers who now run Egypt on $1.5 billion per year of U.S. aid.

And it is surely no worse than the fat tyrants who squander the massive oil resources of Saudi Arabia in pursuit of unspeakable opulence and decadence to the detriment of the 27 million citizens which are not part of the regime, and who one day may well reach the point of revolt. And when it comes to the support of terrorism, the Saudis have funded more jihadists and terrorists throughout the region than Iran ever even imagined.

Yes, the Iranians support the Assad government in Syria, but that’s a long-standing alliance that goes back to his father’s era and is rooted in the historic confessional politics of the Islamic world.

The Assad regime is Alawite, a branch of the Shiite, and despite the regime’s brutality, it has been a bulwark of protection for all of Syria’s minority sects, including Christians, against a majority-Sunni ethnic cleansing. The latter would surely occur if the Saudi supported rebels, led by ISIS, were ever to take power.

At the end of the day, there is no reason for the vast war machine of Washington and its client states to be in the Middle East at all. The terrible violence it has inflicted on the region has generated far more terrorists than all the fiery sermons and social media propaganda that a few thousand Sunni fanatics have ever been able to muster.

So if the Donald wants to really stop the blowback, eliminate the copycats and lone wolves and reduce the unjustified but palpable fears of terrorism among American voters, he only needs to do what Eisenhower did in 1952.

That is, go to Tehran, make a deal and then bring Washington’s vast, destructive and unaffordable war machine home.


David Stockman
for The Daily Reckoning

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