"You�ll find a day when there are no Sunnis left in
Baghdad. Saudi Arabia and Jordan are panicking about this, and they are hoping
that the US will in some way arm or support Sunnis militias. It�s hard for me
to imagine that Sunni nations in the region will stand by and watch Sunnis
pushed out of Baghdad, because there is this terror of the Shia threat. So
you�ll see greater support from Saudi Arabia, from Jordan, perhaps from Yemen,
from Egypt for Sunni militias. And the civil war will spread and become a
regional one." --Nir Rosen; interview with Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
latest round of "Disaster Diplomacy" has turned into a tragedy worthy
of Eugene O� Neill. In Riga, Latvia he was coolly greeted by foreign leaders in
NATO who flatly rejected his request for more troops in Afghanistan or for
redeploying troops to the south where the fighting is fiercest.
The next leg of
Bush�s trip, a stopover in Amman, Jordan, turned out to be an even bigger flop.
Bush was supposed to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, but
Al-Maliki decided to follow the orders of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and
pulled a "no show". This left the "most powerful man in the
world", the President of the United States, looking like a schoolgirl who
had been dumped on prom night. Bush's humiliation appeared as headline news
around the world.
All in all, it was
a tough week for Bush. The trip has exposed the fault-lines in US foreign
policy and the steady erosion of American power. Bush seems completely
oblivious to the damage he�s doing to the country by refusing to change the
present strategy and by blundering ahead, blindly pushing us deeper and deeper
into the quagmire:
"I�m not going
to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete,"
Bush growled to the NATO assembly.
"Stay the course, stay the course, stay the course"; repeat into
NATO: America�s cat's paw
NATO has been a
useful tool for the United States. It�s helped to conceal America�s imperial
ambitions behind the mask of US-European solidarity. Now Bush is putting the
alliance at risk by using it to enlist European support for a global resource
It�s a foolish plan
which could jeopardize the future of the organization, but Bush doesn�t care.
These alliances are only measured in terms of how successfully they advance the
agenda of Western elites; everything else is incidental.
But there�s no
support in Europe for "messianic missions" like the war on terror.
Already there�s grumbling about "cleaning up America�s mess" in
Afghanistan. How long will it be before the member states realize that it�s
really not in their interests to keep tweaking Putin�s nose by pushing into
former Soviet Republics like Ukraine and Georgia? The EU economies are already
strong and self-sufficient. They don�t need to follow the neocons' madcap
"master plan" of making trouble for Russia. They can simply buy their
resources on the open market and avoid the unnecessary aggravation.
It�s different for
the Bush troupe. They see themselves as ruling the world. For them, expansion
is an integral part of a larger militaristic strategy which they embrace with
gusto. But no one in Europe is keen on following Generalissimo Bush into
another century of war. The administration is miscalculating how far Europe
will go before they reach the breaking point. Eventually, America will have to
go it alone.
If Bush were wise,
he�d pay more attention to the growing discontent among the allies and stop
trying to rally the troops for a hopeless cause. NATO won�t prevail in
Afghanistan. That�s just the dream of fanatics who base their decisions on
ideology rather than history. In fact, Pakistan's foreign minister announced to
the NATO members just days ago that they should "accept defeat" and
good advice. The mission is over. None of America�s promises, like Bush�s
Marshall Plan, has ever materialized, nor will they. It was all baloney. Five
years later, Afghanistan is still a basket case; the vast majority of people
toil away in grinding poverty with no access to clean water, medicine or
employment. The central government is weak and is unable to provide security
beyond the capital. The plan to create a thriving Western-style democracy has
failed utterly. It�s time to pack up and head home.
The dominant ethnic
group, the Pashtun, is rising up en masse and is determined to end the
occupation. The Western media dismiss this loose-confederation of tribal-units
as "the Taliban", but it�s more complex than that. These are the
indigenous people who are tired of the corruption, the lack of security, and
the US puppet regime in Kabul. They have rejected a system which is governed
exclusively by warlords, drug-smugglers, bandits and the American military.
They want the same assurances of security that everyone seeks, and they are
willing to put up with the Taliban to get them.
Nothing can be
gained by prolonging our stay in Afghanistan. If there were a chance that
military force could produce a "prosperous democracy" (as was
promised), then that opportunity is gone. History can�t be undone. NATO members
should ignore Bush�s cheerleading and prepare to hand over control of the
country to the Afghans. There�s nothing we can do to forestall the violence
that will erupt when we withdraw. That�s the unfortunate cost of aggression;
innocent people die.
NATO should be more
concerned about its own future. Europe needs a defensive capability that is
independent of America. That has never been more apparent than today when we
can see how the Bush administration has co-opted NATO for their imperial
objectives. Europe does not need a foothold in Central Asia or in the Middle
East. Nor do they need a behemoth military that functions as a security
apparatus for global corporations. They merely need a credible deterrent for
That�s all they
probably be the wedge issue that finally splits the continents apart and sets
America adrift. Within a year (and no more than two), we�ll see a chasm open up
between Europe and America. This can�t be avoided. The EU and America have
already chosen their respective paths; it�s just a matter of acknowledging
their irreconcilable differences and moving forward. As Afghanistan continues
to drag on, Europeans will get increasingly restless and force their leaders to
respond. This is bound to trigger a crisis within NATO that will rupture the
Transatlantic Alliance. These problems will further intensify as the greenback
plummets in value and the American economy goes on life-support. By then, the
European leaders will no longer feel required to pay attention to Bush�s
ravings and they�ll gradually realign with allies in the more promising markets
of Asia and Latin America.
drift between America and Europe is already widening. It just needs one more
calamity to snap. Asia and Latin America have already realigned; forming
security and economic pacts which will only strengthen as the century unfolds.
The US has ignored these developments believing that its brief moment as the
world�s only superpower will be long-lived. Regrettably, America�s present
trajectory suggests otherwise. A giant, lumbering military is of little value
in a world where power and prosperity depend mainly on commerce.
Iraq; a Zero-sum Game
While the future of
NATO seems uncertain, the situation in Iraq is even more dismal. The midterm
elections sent a clear message that the American people wanted a substantial
change in the policy. Bush has not only ignored that message, but has
"preemptively" disregarded the recommendations of the Iraq Study
Group which is calling for a "gradual pullback of 15 American combat
brigades" and negotiations with Iran and Syria.
Bush responded in
Jordan saying, "I know there�s a lot of speculation that these reports in
Washington mean there�s going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq.
[But] we�re going to stay in Iraq to get the job done so long as the government
wants us there."
the course, stay the course, stay the course"; repeat into infinity.
Bush is still under
Dick Cheney�s influence and Cheney is not budging. He won�t talk to Iran or
Syria and he won�t set a timetable for withdrawal. But neither Bush nor Cheney
control events on the ground in Iraq. The real boss is Muqtada al-Sadr.
"snub" was highlighted in the media because it was seen as an insult
to Bush, but that is irrelevant. The real meaning of al-Maliki�s "no
show" was to indicate that al-Sadr is running the country. He calls the
shots and he pulls al-Maliki�s strings. Obviously this wasn�t lost on the White
House warlords who now understand the source of Iraqi power.
Al-Sadr is the most
powerful man in Iraq and the Medhi Army the strongest militia. This puts Bush
in the unenviable position of either fighting al-Sadr now (even though the US
trained and provided weapons for many of the Shiite militias in the Interior
Ministry) or trying to negotiate with the leaders in the Ba�athist-led resistance
to cobble together a coalition government. Either way; America loses and the
region descends into chaos.
The Shiite militias
have been working furiously to kill as many military-aged Sunnis as possible to
ensure that the Ba�athist Party never regains power. It is widely believed that
the US is secretly working out a "reconciliation plan" to bring the
Sunnis back into the government so they can begin to purge the militias and
establish order. The Shia will never allow this to happen. In fact, Iran is
bound to join the fighting if there�s any chance that their archrivals, the
Ba�athists, are being restored to power.
On the other hand,
if Bush takes on the Shiite militias, which are a vital part of the state
security apparatus, he will be fighting the Sunnis and Shiites simultaneously;
ensuring that his supply routes will be cut and his army surrounded. This is
the fast track to disaster.
There are no good
options. If Bush ignores al-Sadr, then the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis in
Baghdad will continue and the number of civilian casualties will steeply rise.
As author Nir Rosen stated in our opening quote, "You�ll find a day when
there are no Sunnis left in Baghdad". Rosen�s prediction is becoming more
likely by the day.
leaders, who left the country with enormous wealth (and now live in Syria,
Jordan and Saudi Arabia), will not sit idly by while their fellow Sunnis are
butchered in Baghdad. They will continue to fund the armed resistance and do
whatever they can to destabilize the new Iraqi government. Additionally, they
will support guerilla activities which target American facilities in the region
to repay the people who created this holocaust. Already, Sunni cleric, Sheikh
Harith al-Dhari, the head of the Muslim Scholars Association, is traveling
through the Middle East enlisting support from other Sunni leaders. He will
probably establish a funding-stream for providing material support for the
resistance. This illustrates how the war is gradually expanding beyond the
confines of Iraq.
In an article which
appeared last Monday in the Washington Post, Saudi Arabia�s ambassador to the
US, Turki al-Faisal, said, "Since America came into Iraq uninvited, it
should not leave uninvited.� If it does, one of the first consequences will be
massive Saudi intervention to stop Iranian-backed militias from butchering
It is likely that
Sunnis in the other Middle East capitals share al-Faisal�s sentiments and will
be equally willing to contribute generously to their
"brothers-in-arms" in Iraq.
The invasion has
opened a Pandora�s Box and disrupted the regional balance of power. Now there�s
no telling how far the war will spread. The ferocity of the sectarian fighting
suggests that a much larger conflagration is on the way. Foreign leaders are
already preparing for the worst. Bush�s misguided fantasies of
"Victory" in Iraq have lit a powder keg and it's probably just a
matter of time before the entire Middle East is consumed by war.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.