Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Liberal Humanitarian Interventionism in Iraq

Pepe Escobar in Asian Times:
The United Nations says Somalia is now the most urgent humanitarian crisis on the planet. No it's not: it's Iraq. Baghdad is now the ultimate laboratory of perverse social engineering: a brutalized, militarized, neo-Spartan future three-tier society where privileges are enjoyed by the first tier - the US Army, the handsomely paid US shadow army of contractors - and the second tier - Iraqi politicians who spend most of their time in London or Middle Eastern capitals. The overall population are just corralled, humiliated and treated as mere slaves - extras in their own land...Blowback will be perennial: the "sanctions generation" - the angry young men who grew up deprived of everything during the 1990s - will never, ever forget it.
The difficulty for a liberal interventionist (so-called) is that Iraq is the world's worst humanitarian crisis. For the conservative interventionist the problem is that the US [edit: civilian leadership in its lack of planning for post-war conflict] is the cause of this being the world's biggest humanitarian crisis. The lib. interv. get tagged by the pro-Bush types for inconsistency on supporting pulling out of Iraq and entering Darfur. The libs get the cons on the fact that the US military is causing the crisis and radicalizing a generation (including the sanctions generation). The blowback will be perennial.

In the short/medium term the best that can be achieved I think is a re-stabilization (as best as can be got) of the trans-national scene: regional security (Asian NATO). But it is going to be dicey for a while.

Africa is going to increase in violence exponentially in the next decade. The fallout of from the Iraq withdrawal is going to be pretty heavy I'm afraid. Lebanon is de-stabilized. Israel is weakened. Palestinian in-fighting will continue sporadically for some time. Pakistan is wobbly. Afghanistan will be this not fallen, not rising thing for a while. Iraq will be Iraq. Turkey today experienced a suicide bomb. Iran is pushing for the US out of the Gulf and the Saudis and Iranians either cut a detente backdoor or go at it or go at it through proxies (or all of the above).

The largest threat to the system is not (as Hillary Clinton suggests) an Iranian nuke. The largest threat seems to me is a US-Iranian War. Particularly if Iran by then has a nuclear arsenal. Or Musharraf falling to a radicalized elite of course. Or North Korea I guess.

Long term what this points to is the nation-state as unable (inherent to its DNA) to handle these sorts of crises for which it was not designed.


At 1:40 PM, Blogger MD said...

the US military is the cause of this being the world's biggest humanitarian crisis.

No, it isn't. The people fighting the coalition are responsible for this problem.

At 9:12 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

If you don't think invading a country, disbanding the army and police, toppling the government without sufficient means of stabilizing the country or suitable replacements, Abu Ghraib, violation of the sanctity of the home by kicking down doors in Arab culture, putting pressure on the international community NOT to recognize refugees internal or external, sending in ideologically aligned individuals (often young) the majority of whom inexperienced to do highly complicated and mission critical jobs like making the electricity function, leaving an entire other army (private contractors) in the country unregulated, and shutting down the means of employment (state owned factories) for thousands of workers has anything to do with a humanitarian crisis than of course you are correct.

At 9:20 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...


I'm not of course suggesting that the US is the ONLY cause. Rather the post referred to the precipitating cause. And actually I have should have said civilian leadership, lack of planning not the military.

At 9:24 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

Apropos check out this (sad) fact:


Joe Klein writes:

As I reported in September 2005, there is also the scandalous reality that an alliance with the tribes was proposed by U.S. Army intelligence officers as early as October 2003 and rejected by L. Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority on the grounds that "tribes are part of the past. They have no place in the new democratic Iraq."


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