Tom Hayden :
Are we seeing the ‘dismemberment’ of Iraq?

The other Hayden says Iraq is ‘dead’ and will be replaced by three ‘successor’ states.

iraq advisers

Political cartoon by Patrick Chapatte / International New York Times. Image from The English Blog.

By Tom Hayden | The Rag Blog | June 21, 2014

Former CIA director Michael Hayden says Iraq is dead, “will not be reconstituted,” and will be replaced by three “successor states.” One of those, which Gen. Hayden calls “Sunnistan,” will become a safe haven for terrorists and should be treated like Waziristan, a zone of secret operations and drone strikes in the tribal regions of Pakistan.

The second, called “Shiastan,” should be shored up by recapturing the oil refinery north of Baghdad, and left in a sharply reduced space. The U.S. should “snuggle up comfortable” to Kurdistan, America’s only ally, where the pesh merga forces are competing for full control of the oil in Kirkuk.

This is precisely the “dismemberment” of Iraq advocated by Arabist Bernard Lewis long ago, the end of a once-powerful Arab nationalist state. [See “The madness in Iraq and the comeback of the neocons” on The Rag Blog“] And it is quite the opposite of the line taken by President Obama and others, who are pressuring the Shiite leader Nouri al-Maliki to form a “power-sharing” coalition or be replaced, as a condition of U.S. assistance.

Assuming Gen. Hayden is right, it’s baffling to ask what useful role 300 new U.S. military advisers will be serving.

Assuming Gen. Hayden is right, it’s baffling to ask what useful role 300 new U.S. military advisers will be serving amidst a disintegrating Iraq. But assuming Obama can wrest concessions from or remove al-Maliki, Gen. Hayden’s analysis points to an irreversible slide towards the end of Iraq. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men probably won’t be able to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

The U.S. will have to choose between the separatists of Kurdistan who have seized Kirkuk with its oil fields, and the Shiite al-Maliki regime and even Sunnis who oppose greater Kurdish autonomy. Then the U.S. will try to patch together a coalition between the Shiites and Sunnis in Baghdad, if there are any who want to coalesce rather than fight, which is a shaky concept at best.

Finally, and most important, the U.S. is entering a vast secret war against the Sunni insurgents who now hold all of northwest Iraq and southeast Syria as a huge liberated zone on its way to declaring a Caliphate.

Wow. Another secret and probably unwinnable war.

Wow. Another secret and probably unwinnable war. How will the media or Congress obtain any reliable news from such an impenetrable region? What only seems clear is that the U.S. is tilting towards a de facto alliance with its longtime strategic enemy, Iran, on the side of Iraq’s Shiites and their allied Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad in Damascus to the north. That move would rattle Tel Aviv and Riyadh, and might well increase the possibility of a U.S.-Iran nuclear deal.

Then there’s Afghanistan, now at the brink of chaos only weeks after all the dazzling media fanfare about its “successful” presidential election. The leading candidate in the first round, Abdullah, has effectively pulled out, denouncing the final voting as rigged by a Karzai conspiracy. He may be right.

Abdullah represents the old Northern Alliance faction in the country’s original civil war. Abdullah’s primary, though not only, base is among the Tajik minority, which ironically (or not) is historically allied with Iran. In fact, Iran supported the U.S. in overthrowing the initial Taliban regime, then encouraged the Tajiks to help Karzai form his new government. Iran’s confusing interests are sectarian and practical. They oppose the Taliban’s ideology, want to protect their ethnic allies in Afghanistan, and stop the massive flow of drugs over the Afghan-Iran border heading towards Europe.

Can the Obama administration afford to watch Afghanistan become more dysfunctional than it already is, on top of the fiasco in Iraq? The Taliban can take the military offensive at any time of its choosing as the U.S. troops continue to depart. Its pressure could heighten the internal contradictions in already-shaky Kabul, just as the ISIS offensive has caused a buckling of the regime in Baghdad.

Will Obama be accused of having failed to end two wars which the Bush administration never should have started?

Instead of “ending two wars,” will Obama be accused of having failed to end two wars which the Bush administration never should have started? Has American policy finally led to a vast new sanctuary in “Sunnistan” from which terrorist attacks will be launched? Has intervening in two sectarian civil wars created thousands of new jihadists seeking revenge on Americans? But John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and the ascending neo-cons feel vindicated from the sidelines. The Kristol and Kagan dynasties are having a surge of their own, though their solutions are out of the nineteenth century.

Meanwhile, Congress has been frozen out of its role in the checks and balances. This week, however, by a voice vote the House approved a defense appropriations amendment which prohibits funding for any U.S. troops in Iraq “equipped for combat” or near to “imminent involvement in hostilities,” which could pose war-powers problems similar to those the president faced on the brink of escalation in Syria.

Despite a valiant effort led by Barbara Lee, supported by streams of anti-war messages to the Hill, the Republican House rejected several more effective tools to prevent the wars:

  • no on Lee’s amendment to prohibit funding for combat operations in Iraq. [Rejected 250-165, Democrats voting 142-44-13];
  • no on Lee’s amendment to prohibit funding pursuant to the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force. [Rejected 231-182, Democrats voting 151-35-13].
The Long War doctrine against terrorism continues to prevail.

The Long War doctrine against terrorism continues to prevail. Described by Pentagon strategists as secret counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations over a 50-to-80-year period, the policy may have prevented terrorist attacks on the U.S. but certainly has resulted in the out-of-control pursuit of revolutionary jihadists to ever-expanding battlegrounds, the latest being North Africa.

The brutal irony is that a new and virulent jihad is sweeping across the very territories where the U.S. once claimed “mission accomplished.” Instead of success, the U.S. policies have planted the seeds of future terrorist attacks on American soil for years to come. The obvious failure of the Long War militarily doesn’t seem to matter if it remains immune from a political standpoint.

The final battle in the war on terrorism, then, will be fought on the field of American politics, by continuing to steadily turn congressional districts into new kinds of sanctuaries, for insurgencies favoring peace

Read more of Tom Hayden’s writing on The Rag Blog.

[Tom Hayden is a former California state senator and leader of Sixties peace, justice, and environmental movements. He currently teaches at Pitzer College in Los Angeles. His latest book is The Long Sixties. Hayden is director of the Peace and Justice Resource center and editor of The Peace Exchange Bulletin. ]

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7 Responses to Tom Hayden :
Are we seeing the ‘dismemberment’ of Iraq?

  1. All of Iraq I will divide into three parts — this was an idea also promoted by Biden. The Dems are responsible for what is going on as well as the Pubs. The Responsibility to Protect crowd — with a lot of Dems and other “progressives” — has been helping the “rebels” in Syria who are in significant part imports from Iraq as well as other countries. No one put a stop to the establishment of a confessional based political structure in Iraq by the CPA. Where were the no establishment of religion crowd when we needed them?

  2. Dieter Heymann says:

    What would I recommend President Obama today about Syria, Iraq, Iran, etc.?

    a. Stop making new demands every week but accept Iran’s proposal for the “nuclear issue” and get this thing over with.
    b. Accept the emergence of a Kurdish state nestled against Turkey in Northern Iran. It may include Kirkuk. Leave it to the Kurds how they want to govern themselves.
    c. Accept the emergence of a greater mostly Sunni Syria which will include Mosul (1) and its province but not Lebanon. Leave it to the people who live there who will govern them and how. Possibly support for the least obnoxious ruler(s).
    d. Accept the emergence of a Shiite Iraq with Baghdad and Basra. Leave it to the people who live there who will govern them and how. Possibly support for the least obnoxious ruler(s).
    e. Let these new states negotiate their borders among themselves.
    f. Advocate a future “Levantine Common Market” including Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq.
    g. A red line? Yes. No incursions of ISIS/ISIL into areas of Iraq where Shiites are a clear-cut majority, especially Baghdad.
    h. Another red line. Turkey must not meddle in any way with any of the emerging states. Turkish governments have not only massacred Armenians but Kurds, Greeks, and other Christians. Its history of massacre is almost as vile as that of Nazi Germany and actually has lasted far longer.
    i. Return of refugees to their homes. Assistance to begin a new life.
    (1) Mosul was in French-Syria of the Sykes-Picot pact. In 1918 Clemenceau wanted to give it to Great Britain but the remainder of the French government and French business organizations protested and the fate of Mosul was left undecided until 1926 when the League of Nations “gave” it to the British mandate of Iraq. In 1927 at the Lausanne Conference Mosul was claimed by Turkey on the grounds that Kurds were actually Turkish!

  3. Dieter Heymann says:

    Sorry, typo. Lausanne was in 1925.

  4. Extremist2theDHS says:

    Hi about this:
    Get the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria (just for starters) and let them sort it out. Perhaps when enough blood has been spilled, they will reach a balance that allows them to coexist. And if not, then a wider war will erupt and lots more blood will flow. In either case I don’t care who wins or how peace is purchased.

    – Proud to be an Extremist2TheDHS

    • You an me, Extremist! The West has demonstrated since the time of the Crusades if not before an absolute inability to understand or certainly to control the action in this volatile region. We got no business there except the oil, and I would rather see all that oil spilled than one more drop of the young Americans who cannot find worthy jobs at home.
      Bring all our troops home and let them sort out our own dysfunctional society, and let the theocracies of the East do the same!

  5. joe manning says:

    Shows how clueless the so called experts are. All that blood and money for nothing. The big difference between this and the Viet Nam debacle is that the terrorist threat is all the more imminent.

    • True dat, Joe — we have spent the intervening years arming and training the terrorists; no wonder they are more of a threat…
      All for the love of a few dollars more, ya know?
      We allow international capital to cut our throats with our own steel! As long as we have new toys and scandals thrown in our benumbed faces everyday by a compliant media, we don’t seem to notice the blood…

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