Kerry Cajoles Afghanistan and Iraq, as Bush’s former colonies decline to Toe the Line

Secretary of State John Kerry just made trips to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration’s two trophy states, in an attempt to shore up rapidly declining American influence in the two.

In Afghanistan, the mood is turning against a US troop presence after 2014. In the last couple of weeks, President Hamid Karzai successfully insisted that US special forces and their Afghan auxiliaries cease operating in Wardak Province just west of the capital. The US military resisted, on the grounds that Wardak is a Taliban hot spot and, well, close to the capital. But in the end they had to give in to Karzai’s demand. Today the US handed over the Bagram base and prison to Karzai, after years of dragging its feet, fearful that Karzai will do a mass pardon in order to curry favor with the Taliban. Afghanistan increasingly is showing independence on a range of domestic and international issues. Aljazeera English reports:

Kerry also visited Iraq, where he scolded Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for being lax in inspecting Iranian aircraft for weapons intended to be smuggled into Syria.

Al-Maliki is de facto supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, after for years blaming al-Assad for every bombing in Iraq. The change has occured because al-Maliki’s ally Iran is supporting Bashar, and because one of the more effective elements in the resistance is Jabhat al-Nusra, and radical fundamentalist offshoot in some ways of the ‘Islamic State of Iraq’ terrorist group. Al-Maliki is afraid that a Jabhat al-Nusra win in Syria will give aid and comfort to those Sunnis in northern Iraq who want to bring him and his Shiite-majority government down.

In 2002 when Dick Cheney was planning the Iraq War and talking about democratization, I pointed out that a democratized Afghanistan and Iraq would be unlikely to do America’s bidding. I.e., democratization (even if phony) as a policy has the stark internal contradiction that Cheney was doing it for the purposes of American dominance, and that is exactly what it could not hope to deliver.

Karzai will bargain for the best deal for his government in Afghanistan. Iraq’s al-Maliki will support the Baath regime because that is what is in its interests.

Bush’s moment in the sun as conqueror of poor weak countries has long since passed. But the damage he did lives on.

12 Responses

  1. I don’t think I’m being anti-American when I say good for them, “them” being Iraq and Afghanistan. Both of these countries have suffered huge losses to their populations, while warlords and war profiteers stuffed billions of borrowed US dollars into their off shore accounts.

    Iraqi leaders certainly understand the US is little more than a puppet for Israel and AIPAC whose illegitimate grand plan to refashion the middle east put Iraq in their cross hairs, killing over 150,000 of their citizens.

  2. I like to speculate about alternate history. What if the US instead of hanging Saddam had rather proposed this deal: if you follow orders from the US and Israel you can continue as you had before. Oppress your people, live a grand lifestyle but you must answer the phone when the boss calls.

    This is the “right” way to run colonies. Get a good strong leader from the local population and give him free reign as long as he knows who the real boss is. The British had this system working very well.

    Today we would be told that Iraq is a shining example of democracy in the Middle East. George Bush would be hailed as a genius of foreign policy. Cheney and the neocons would be planning their next masterstroke.

    • That would rather get in the way of the US wanting to be colonists without appearing to be colonists. :D

  3. The sooner the US realizes that the Middle East is not its backyard, the better it is for everyone.

  4. ” Iraq’s al-Maliki will support the Baath regime because that is what is in its interests.” This doesn’t make much sense especially when neither acknowledges the existence of the other…

  5. …Time to move on, let the dying bury their dead, chalk it up to experience, and get on about planning the NEXT war, aka wealth transfer or whatever the whole complex thing is called, procurement, logistics, recruitment, blah blah blah, by the “experts” who just KNOW that this time, THIS time, their “expertise” will surely triumph, and produce VICTORY! and a BIG WIN!

  6. Also should note that Saddam Hussein was quite ill-disposed toward the Assad regime. Saddam was Donald Rumsfeld’s best friend (Rumsfeld once presented him with a gold-handled cane) when he was considered useful as an enemy of Iran. He became more annoying than useful when he invaded Kuwait and then tried to build up his street cred via hostility toward Israel, which was when the neocons decided to make Iraq their showpiece project (long before 9/11 or even the selection of GW Bush as president). Alliances and hostilities in the Middle East are complicated and quite often seem contradictory from our own parochial point of view — you’re generally asking for trouble by messing around with them.

  7. Kerry lacks any moral standing [as does the US government] to instruct other nations and states on matters of democracy in light of the invariably corrupt electoral system in the US and that Kerry voted to kill/murder/invade Afghanistan and Iraq merely personalizes his individual ethical failings.

  8. The Cheney definition of “democracy” is using whatever means one can get away with to ensure your supporters get elected. Dick Cheney wanted to remove an uncooperative dictator and replace him with a more obedient dictator through rigged elections – and call it “democracy.”

  9. “… of the more effective elements in the resistance is Jabhat al-Nusra, and radical fundamental offshoot in some ways of the ‘Islamic State of Iraq’ terrorist group.”

    Earlier in 2012 it had been estimated that Jabhat al-Nusra, composed of a significant number of foreign fighters – mostly from Iraq had fighters totalling only several hundred; however David Ignatius, in his November 30,2012 article “Al-Qaeda Affiliate Playing Larger Role in Syrian Rebellion”, reported in the Washington Post, estimated the number of men under arms of that group at 5,000-10,000 as of that juncture.

    There is also the jihadist fighting organization operating in Syria known as Ghuraba al-Sham, “Strangers of the Levant” which is composed primarily of Turks but also has members from former Soviet bloc countries.

    The other significant Salafist group fighting the Baathists in Syria is Harakat Ahrar al-Sham Al Islami (“Islamic Movement of the Free Men of Greater Syria”) numbering about 500 men which was founded by former political prisoners within Syria.

    By comparison, the general consensus is that the Free Syrian Army now fields about 100,000 fighters.

    A key question is where are these jihadist entities getting their funding and arms supplies from? The CIA reportedly is trying to ensure that these groups do not receive weaponry and ammunition, but it is clear that they are getting support from somewhere and their ranks are growing despite the fact the Syrian populace and the Syrian National Coalition has mixed feelings about whether these jihadists’ efforts are welcome and also whether they should be included as part of any future post-Assad Syrian interim government.

  10. Ambasaador Crocker’s observation from a few years ago still holds true, I suspect:

    “The events for which the Iraq war will be remembered have not yet happened.”

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