Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hasn't Anybody Heard Of Blowback?

The resilience of the Baghdad government has admittedly surprised me. I didn't expect it to be here by now. One big reason it has survived is that the Islamic State extremists are bigger fools than I thought, as well. They've managed to alienate enough people in the Middle East to ensure that they won't have the success that, say, the communists had in Southeast Asia. I was wrong to compare the Baghdad government to the Saigon government. I admit it.

Plus, the ISIL militants have proved so barbaric in their standard practices that they can't be ignored. It can be argued that they are a direct product of "blowback," of U.S. meddling in the region. But it could be similarly argued that the Nazis were the direct product of the harshness of the Versailles Treaty after World War I. Nazism perhaps could have been avoided, but it ultimately couldn't be ignored. The enormities of Islamic State can't, either.

But what the right wing in America consistently fails to understand is that, to a large degree, this is a Frankenstein monster of our own creation. And it goes back much further than a few years, much further than Il Doofus' decision to invade Iraq, much further than even the Gulf War. When a CIA unit led by Teddy Roosevelt III (Sorry, it was Kermit Roosevelt -- I stand corrected here) overthrew an elected nationalist government in Iran in 1953 and installed the Shah back in power with a "pro-U.S." government, that started us down a slippery slope in the region. Over 60 years later, we've now got a nuclear threat in Iran, and a decidedly "anti-U.S." government that's well-entrenched there. Not to mention clerics who habitually put horns and a tail on all Jews.

At the risk of sounding neo-isolationist, I venture the opinion that the region would generally have been far better off if the U.S. had stayed out, period. I doubt that Islamic State would even exist now if the U.S. had refrained from meddling in the region in the first place. For that matter, the 9/11 attacks might never have happened, among many other unhappy events that perhaps could have been avoided. The radicalization of some elements of Islam are the direct product of Western meddling.

I can't count myself as a big fan of Barack Obama, but I don't think the events of the past 60-plus years are lost on him, and I think he's doing a wise thing so far to confine U.S. involvement to airstrikes and try hard to extricate U.S. ground troops from the region. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a hideous mistake, but sadly the kind of mistake we'd been making in the region for decades. ISIL must be opposed by force, but it's important not to forget the conditions that created them in the first place.
It's a simple point -- when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

Postscript: I took a long hiatus from this blog for a variety of reasons. One is still very much with me -- I don't have a day anymore when I don't have to put out some kind of fire, personally or financially. I think the computer issues are at last solved, so I expect to resume posting regularly. For followers of this blog, I apologize, but I have a life, and this blog was one of many things that had to go on the back burner for a while. Thank you for your patience.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


Old Scout said...


Your return from sabatical is welcome.

I do though wish to pick on a point.

TPAJAX was the operation conducted by the CIA to remove Mossagedeh and reinstate the Shah Reza to the Peacock Throne. My uncle was an integral part of the Op. He answered to Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. a cousin of TR III. Kermie didn't listen to wise counsel and sided with the Limeys and the Oil Interests.
This Op may have been the only big mistake of the Eisenhower Administration.

Manifesto Joe said...

Oh, yeah, you're right, it was Kermit. I seem to recall being corrected about that before.

Old Scout said...

Before they dropped the handkerchief, Uncle was against the entire mess. He was one of the CIA people just after WW-II that was educated before the war, BS, and re-educated after the war, MS/MPA, to shed the shackles of European Colonialism. He recognized VietNam as a viable social and economic culture capable of self-governing. Later, he argued that Persia was also in position to do so and yielding to Mossagedeh was politically supportable, in the long run ... and any other option pursued would generate anything from a mildly restrictive theocracy to a full-blown caliphate. Most seemed to ignore the social strides made by the Pahlavis while Mossagedeh was PM. Women shed the burkas, got the vote, held jobs, drove cars, were educated ... yes and even some lived alone.

You are absolutely correct. Support for Israel is not the cause of our problems in Persia, Arabia and Palatinate. The coup or counter-coup or royal screaming-mimi we pulled in Iran is the origin of our problems in the M.E. TPAJAX stands as a monument to ill-conceived diplomatic statecraft, values & research. We have not altered our values much since then.

Burr Deming said...

The New Year starts with good news. Manifesto Joe is back.

Marc McDonald said...

Usually, I find it difficult to argue with the right-wing crowd. Their point-of-view is just so radically different from mine that I'm often at a loss for words.

But I did recently get the better of this one wingnut that I argued with at my local coffee shop.

He was angrily and passionately defending the Iraq War. He was so angry that he was red in the face and was practically screaming at me.

He started rattling off all this supposed "evidence" that the U.N. had that claimed that Saddam had WMD. I then calmly said, "So America now puts its soldiers in harm's way based on the U.N. says? I guess this is not your father's Republican Party."

He had no answer for that.

However, he then started claiming that the Iraq War was still justified. He said it was all about "defending our freedoms."

I then asked him how old he was. He said he was 35. I asked him, if the Iraq War was really about "defending our freedoms" then why, exactly, didn't he sign up to go fight?

"You believed this war was about defending America's freedom? And even that wasn't important enough for you to sign up in the military? Then, what, exactly, would motivate you to ever sign up for the military?"

He was at a loss for this as well.

I then explained to him that, although I'm a peace-loving "Lib," I'm not necessarily anti-war. I told him that if I really believed that America's freedom was at stake, I would sign up to go fight in a war (especially if I was 35 years old).

The wingnut had no answer for any of this. He started babbling about how the economy was in "relatively good shape" when Obama was elected and now it was a "mess." I paid for my coffee and just left the store.

Old Scout said...

HELL YES!!!!!!!!!!!!