Juan Cole on the Unintended Consequences of War
Further to the vigorous discussion here at Liberty & Power on when the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq, I commend Juan Cole’s The Iraq war is over, and the winner is... Iran. His essay illustrates perfectly how war almost always turns out to have unintended consequences for the protagonists, in this case the Bush administration. Hat tip to Antiwar.com.
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Bill Woolsey - 7/24/2005
I agree that Iran's support of the elected Iraqi government is a reason not to worry much about it being destroyed by the insurgents.
Cole has painted some alarmist pictures about that scenario however. Supposedly, Iran will help the Shia, but then various Sunni Arab regimes will intervene on the side of the insurgents. There will be a regional war between Iran and the Sunni Arab regimes. The oil in the persian gulf will cut off (for a time,) oil prices will shoot up, a Great Depression in the U.S.
Cole believes that the UN should run Iraq, so none of this bad stuff will happen right away. Then there should be a political settlement between the Sunni and Shia Arabs. Having the Shia dominated elected government crush the Sunni's with Iran's help leads to the disaster.
Cole closely follows reports of Shia factions who insist on keeping all Baathists out of government and opines on how that makes a poltical settlement between Shia and Sunni arabs impossible.
When I read alarmist scenarios like Cole's, I think, maybe, but not likely.
Personally, I think that the U.S. willingness to fight the insurgents makes the Shia less likely to agree to a political settlement with the insurgents.
Of course, I think allowing the Sunni Arabs autonomy would be a good idea. The Sunnis don't seem to want it, though. Which seems like there is no easy political solution.
One can hardly expect the Kurd and Shia 80% of the population to agree to be subjects of Sunni Arab rule.
Personally, I don't beleive that a jihad against the "Persians" will be as good of a recruiting tool as a jihad against the Jews and Crusaders, so I think U.S. withdrawal will calm things down. But the notion that the insurgents are just interested in getting rid of the Americans is not realistic.
Bill Woolsey - 7/24/2005
I know it sounds a bit paranoid, but who cares if Iran dominates Iraq if you plan on regime change in Iran as well?
Keith Halderman - 7/23/2005
All of the neocons and their fellow travelers who were so joyous over the fact of elections in Iraq could only be that happy by completely ignoring who won.
John Arthur Shaffer - 7/23/2005
If Cole supports a continued US presence than that flies in the face of his article's conclusion.
If indeed the new Shia-led Iraqi government is so close to Tehran then clearly Tehran will help the new government squash the insurgency. Iran is flush with oil wealth and as the article says it is offering Iraq a great deal of assistance.
It doesn't make sense that the new government is becoming a close ally of the mullahs and at the same time cannot squash the insurgency.
We may not like it, but they will have a much easier time quashing the bathists than the US soldiers do. They won't abide by any conventions, that's for sure.
I believe the premise of Cole's article is correct - which is just one more reason for the US to exit before it wastes any more blood or treasure increasing the mullah's power in the Gulf.
Bill Woolsey - 7/23/2005
Juan Cole opposes an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
He claims that the result would be that the insurgents would just kill everyone in the elected goverment, take over, and return to an oppressive regime like that of Saddam.
He would prefer to have the U.N. take over Iraq and have the U.N. (really the U.S. taxpayers) pay for third world troops to provide security.
Of course, that would be temporary. When everything is properly secure then there would be elections for a government for a united Iraq.
While he opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and favored continued inspections, etc., he would have favored a UN approved invasion of Iraq for the purpose of changing Iraq's regime.
And then, the UN should have run Iraq until elections could be held.
Now, that is what I have gathered from reading his website.
I read his website every day and find much useful material there, even though I favor a rapid withrawal from Iraq and am pretty skeptical about having the UN run much of anything.
My question is why we don't we see Raimondo attack Cole as being a pro-war neo-conservative?
I think the reason is obvious. Cole is a left-liberal and doesn't come from a competing faction of the libertarian movement. There is no need to vilify Cole in an effort to control (well, influence) the libertarian movement.
Those of us who are former Rothbardians learned all about Rothbard's version of Leninist strategy. One element of that strategy involved "objective allies."
I'm not sure what is "objective" about it, but my recollection is that Rothbard criticized the European socialists in WWI for siding with their various nation states. He held up Eugene Debs as counter example, someone who continued to insist that the workers had nothing to gain in a war between the capitalist classes of various states. He went on the point out that Lenin actually favored the defeat of the Russian state. Imperial Germany was the objective ally of the Communist Party in Russia. As I recollect, Rothbard was quite approving of Lenin's approach.
I remember those old battles at SLS. The "radicals" including Raimondo and Garris (and Bill Evers) were insisting on a "line" that the U.S. was at fault in the Cold War. They accused the appointed and later, elected leadership, as promoting the wrongheaded "moral equivalence" view. Not because the U.S. was better--au contraire. Who were to be the libertarians "objective allies" in the cold war?
So, who are the American libertarian movement's objective allies in Iraq? Who are the American libertarian movement's "objective enemies?" Where do Shia recruits in the new Iraqi police force fit in? How about the Baathist insugents? How about Sistani? How about Dawa and SCIRI?
Think about that as you read anti-war.com. Are they former Rothbardians? Or are they still Leninists for Liberty?
I find a lot of value in Juan Cole's commentary. I find a lot of value on anti-war.com. But I read it all with a grain of salt.
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