Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thug Life

So there's a "truce" between the Sadrist Mahdi Army and the Dawa/ISCI "government" of the Maliki trend.Or maybe not.

The real question to me as an American is what the hell our armed forces are doing in Sadr City and elsewhere in Iraq with regards to this Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence.

Keep in mind that this isn't "Al Qaeda" we're talking about here. This isn't an Iranian proxy. Take away the Twelver Shiite religion and Sadr is basically Juan Peron in a turban. He's the front man for the poor crapped-out Shiites that first Saddam and then the middle-class Shia of the Dawa party and the Iranian-friendly ISCI have persistently shat upon.

So far no one on either side of the political aisle seems to be asking the most critical question about U.S. participation in this sectarian squabble:


Why is this a must-do operation? This isn't mostly empty desert and mud-hut villages. This is Fallujah writ large. We might have to "destroy it in order to save it".

And this is because...we want to disarm the JAM?

(And why is disarming the JAM so much more important than disarming, say, the Iranian-affiliated Badr militia? Or the ex- and maybe-not-so-ex-AQ-subsidiaries now going under the moniker "Sons of Iraq"?)

Because...Sadr and the Sadrist trend are Islamists?

(And the gang we're supporting are called the "Rotarian Supreme Council of Iraq"?)

Because...the Sadrists are Iranian allies?

(And our boys the Malkists, Dawa and their ISCI pals are...ummm...not?)

If we were asked to intervene in Sri Lanka to fight the Tamil Tigers we'd laugh. We have no dog in that fight, and, frankly, the Sri Lankan "government" is less vile but no more democratic and no more an ally than the LTTE. If the British asked us to bomb the Provos in Belfast we'd scoff. This isn't the U.S. as the LAPD fighting the Eight-Trey Crips - this is the Crips versus the Bloods only with U.S. airpower backing one group of homies against the other. Making them part of the "Iraqi Army" doesn't turn Badr Corp thugs into Audie Murphy. It just puts the stamp of officialdom on the thug life.Plus, why is it suddenly so bloody critical that NOW we fight our way into a Shiite slum so that our Shiite "allies" can eliminate one of their sectarian rivals?

Looking at this from the "power politics" perspective I can see how the defenestration of the Sadrists serves three objects for three different groups:

1. For the Maliki kleptocracy it allows them to use their U.S. ally as a proxy to eliminate an internal rival without being the "bad guy" having to trust their own troops who may or may not be happy about fighting Maliki's gang war (the heavy lifting in Basra, Baghdad and Mosul seems to have been done by foreign troops and fire support). It eliminates the JAM as a potential counter-state enemy of the Malikist trend like Hezbollah in Lebanon. It also makes the point to the Sunni muj that the Shia government isn't "sectarian" (See? We're not JUST killing y'all - we kill other Shiites, too!)

2. For the U.S., it eliminates embarassing evidence of unrest in the form of daily barrages into the Green Zone, and (for a certain GOP faction in our government) continues the original "strategy" that got us there - the pursuit of long-term basing rights and a Status of Forces Agreement that secures a "central position" for U.S. forces in the Middle East.3. For Iran, it eliminates Sadr as an Iraqi political power and especially an Iraq-for-Iraqis irritant, while keeping him alive and in place as a potential anti-U.S. influence.

For me, the downside of all this is for my nation as a whole: it welds us to ONE faction in the dysfunctional Iraqi "state". We now cannot ever allow a Sadrist to be elected, or if elected, to serve - they will be even more committed to ejecting us from Camp Victory et al. We make this mistake over and over: Musharraf in Pakistan, Mubarak in Egypt, Karzai in Afghanistan. We buck these tigers and then have to keep them in power, becoming the props for dictators and earning the justified loathing of every local outside the ruling elites. In pursuit of...what? Petroleum? Influence? Great power props?

We have become what our Founders despised - just another Big Power stomping about the less-paved parts of the world. Just another playa in the global Thug Life, using guns to get the bling and the ho's. Just another gangsta, thuggin' it on the mean streets of Baghdad.Somewhere in Elysium, Thomas Jefferson just threw up a little in his mouth.


Lisa said...

You've hit the nail precisely on the head. "The Maliki kleptocracy" -- exactly right.

I am impressed with the precision of your imaging of the thing, but very sad for the U.S., who is a playa in that thug life. And we all know what happened to poor Tupac.

rangeragainstwar said...

Chief, We're in the middle of a key Presidential selection cycle and none of the candidates will truthfully address the phoney war as you so thoghtfully have done. WHY?OR WHY NOT?
We as a nation must define what we are and what our true core values really are.Somehow kicking ass in a sand nation just doesn't seem to be a democratic principle.
As you so clearly state, HOW DID WE GET INTO THEIR DOG FIGHT???And why would we want to?
Why is there no dialogue concerning our national objectives?

rangeragainstwar said...

What do you mean poor Tupac? As they said in Lonesome Dove after they hung their old friend Jake Spoon-You ride with killers , you die with them. !Tupac walked the walk and there is only one outcome.
This is the same for US policy.If you support criminals then you are a criminal.The Iraqi government may be elected but it has no legitimacy and the rule of law is non-existant.
WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. In closing-Screw Tupac and all like him- i hope similar fates to them all. So much for my christian charity.
To Chief - excuse my cmts on your site and in your living room as Lurch used to say. jim

FDChief said...

Lisa/Ranger: No apologies required: this is what I hope the comments section is for; exchanging views and ideas.

I haver to say I come down somewhere on Ranger's side of this issue. There's some upside to the life of a wolf. Huge periods of human history have been Wolf Years. But civil society is made for dogs, and you should expect that when the dogs have their day, the wolves will get skinned and nailed to the barn wall.

IMO, our problems in the Middle East can be directly traced to our - at least the Cheney-wing of the GOP's - conviction that you can kick open the cage door and use physical force to make the wolves roll over and lie down. While that's true to a point, it forces you to spend your entire waking moments with a gun in your hand and one eye on the wolves.

It is not for no reason that wolves and people get along better when the wolves stay in the hills and the people in the valleys.

Lisa said...

Dear Ranger,

I'm afraid the fine art of subtlety is lost on you. I shall be more direct in the future.

All the way!

rangeragainstwar said...

Chief, to use your symbolism of wolves and dogs Lisa and i have discussed this issue just yesterday. Let's call it hunter gatherer versus warrior. Dods v. wolves in your terms.
The conventional wisdom is that man is basically a primitive warrior underneath a veneer of civilization.I do not and will not accept this.I believe most men were hunters and gatherers beforer we ever developed warriors or a warrior caste.
The problem as i see it as that we're trying to impose a warrior cult in a situation that requires hunting and gathering. Warriors are only seen after the societies have evolved.
Wolves and hunters kill only to live. Not true of warriors( or limp dick trophy hunters)
We evolved based on skills and values other than war. This skill is a corruption. jim