Iranian men and women (note the Western clothing) demonstrating in the streets of Tehran in the early 1950’s, calling for nationalization of the oil industry. Mohammed Moussadek, their democratically elected President made it happen and that made us angry.
Almost immediately, the CIA and British Intelligence orchestrated a coup, arrested the President and installed Shah Reva Pahlavi, who then – over a quarter century – destroyed democratic institutions, jailed dissidents and ruled as a Dictator. And oh yeah, the British got their oil back.
Having lost any political voice, Iranians turned to their clerics and it was in the mosque that anti-Shah sentiments were nurtured. Imams preached Islamism and radicalism. The early goal of restoring their treasured democracy stolen by the West was replaced by growing anti-Western attitudes and a commitment to overthrow the Shah.
We all know what happened 25 years later. And we’re all too familiar with the Iran of the 25 years since then. Blowback, the very definition of.
For all of that, we can thank two men: the then Director of the CIA Allan Dulles and his brother US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the same boys who shortly thereafter brought us Guatemala and Vietnam.
I just added to my reading list The Brothers,the story of how their belief system was formed, and how it – for a decade or more – became the very basis of American foreign policy.
How else to explain this kind of thinking – some in the Administration have put out this projection for Obama’s presidency going forward. They draw it as an entirely passive future. They’re saying if we fail at this, we’ll fail at everything else because it’ll be out of our hands. Perhaps some staffers think saying this would be heard by the Congress as a threat; they would be wrong – a weak Obama is the opposition’s wet dream.
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — President Obama and his advisers view the coming decision on military action against Syria as a potential turning point that could effectively define his foreign policy for his final three years in office. . . .
Mr. Obama and his team see the votes as a guidepost for the rest of his presidency well beyond the immediate question of launching missiles at Syrian military targets. If Congress does not support a relatively modest action in response to a chemical attack that killed more than 1,400 people in Syria, Obama advisers said, the president will not be able to count on support for virtually any use of force.
Although Mr. Obama has asserted that he has the authority to order the strike on Syria even if Congress says no, White House aides consider that almost unthinkable. As a practical matter, it would leave him more isolated than ever and seemingly in defiance of the public’s will at home. As a political matter, it would almost surely set off an effort in the House to impeach him, which even if it went nowhere could be distracting and draining.
As a result, Mr. Obama would be even more reluctant to order action in the one case that has most preoccupied military planners: the development of a nuclear bomb by Iran.
I hate that we might do anything military at all in Syria. I hate that if we do, it could be because President Barry was a little careless with his language last year with “a red line”, and the year before with “Assad has to go”. (Hey, maybe he should go to Congress and let them say ‘no’ and then either he can have it both ways or if they say ‘yes’ he’s got cover and isn’t in this alone.)
But I’m also cynical. More cynical than a sweet woman like myself ought to be. So I will wonder: is this waffling and the promises of ‘limited strikes’ a ruse? Is it a delay so Assad can act now to mitigate the damage to come?
Do we perhaps want Assad to survive after all because we believe anything that follows would be more unstable? Have we made a quiet deal to buy some time to transition to another government without those Islamists rattling the palace gates?
UPDATE: He is going to Congress – just saw it at The New York Times; it must have been a few hours ago, so I’m guessing it’s not because of my post.
Messrs McCain, Lindsay and Lieberman are calling for war again. They always do – this is their act and it’s getting stale.
Mr. McCain, Mr. Lieberman and Miss Graham
Of course they’ll insist they don’t want ‘real’ war, just ‘support for the rebels’. They’re not particularly concerned that there are many different kinds of rebels – now including worrisome Islamist elements.
The three gentlemen had an op-ed in The Washington Post the other day, laying out their case. It is – thank Elvis – not tea party reasoning and it’s not all about Jeebus either. But it is classical neo-con Middle East war hawk stuff, evidenced by this, reason number-whatever:
. . . ensuring that al-Qaeda and its violent brethren are unable to secure a new foothold in the heart of the Middle East.
I heard those exact words about Iraq – in 2003, 04, 05, 06 . . . from the same war party.
The people who are doing the best job right now of keeping the Islamists in check are the countries actually in the heart of the Middle East; for them, the danger is at their own front doors. Right now, even the new Egyptian government and its Muslim Brotherhood president are themselves taking aggressive action.
Syria isn’t Egypt. And Egypt wasn’t Libya. And Libya wasn’t Tunisia.
But Syria could be Lebanon, which would be a fearsome outcome. But no matter the danger, we can’t do it from here. You can’t kill an idea with a bullet. Only politics can achieve that.
Reagan’s failure in Lebanon proved it.
Posted in Egypt, History, Iraq, Middle East, Politics, war
Tagged Egypt, Islamism, Lebanon, Middle East, neo-cons, Syria, The Three Amigos, US foreign policy, war hawks
While the neo-con Prime Minister of Israel is insulting our president and defying our foreign policy goals while here, proving himself once again to be among the rudest guys on the planet, Josh Marshall posted this today. His post at TPM acknowledges the hard truth Obama articulated the other day.
Just as no man is an island, no country can be either. On its present course Israel is on its way to becoming a pariah state, a status in which it cannot indefinitely or even perhaps long survive. Neither the fact that Israel faces a profound cultural animosity among the region’s Arab populations nor the bad faith that often greets its actions nor even the anti-Semitism that is sometimes beneath the animus changes this essential fact. The make-up of the 21st century world is simply not compatible with a perpetual military occupation of another people, especially one that crosses a boundary of ethnicity and religion. Only the willfully oblivious can’t see that.
Josh Marshall speaks for me.
A week ago a relatively limited intervention probably could have sealed the rebels’ victory, preventing a reeling Qaddafi from fully mobilizing his heavy armaments. But where do we expect to get from this now? It’s not clear to me how the best case scenario can be anything more than our maintaining a safe haven in Benghazi for the people who were about to be crushed because they’d participated in a failed rebellion. So Qaddafi reclaims his rule over all of Libya except this one city which has no government or apparent hope of anything better than permanent limbo. Where do we go with that?
We’re calling a time out on a really ugly situation the fundamental dynamics of which we aren’t in any position to change. That sounds like a mess.
Maybe we do this and then that rejuvenates the opposition and Qaddafi is gone in a week. If that happens, great. Egg on my face. But I doubt it.
And that’s about how it looks to me. And that’s about how it feels to me. And like Josh Marshall, I’d love to be wrong.
Rep. Eric Cantor is trying to walk back his pledge to protect Israel from US foreign policy. He is failing.
And by the way, that wasn’t all he said From Matzav Network:
Cantor also took issue with Obama administration policies in other areas, including Iran, with the statement from his office saying the congressman “believes that it is time for the administration to fully and aggressively implement the Iran Sanctions Act passed by Congress earlier this year.”
Ron Kampeas from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news agency found Cantor’s comments extremely surprising, writing, “I can’t remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the president. Certainly, in statements on one specific issue or another — building in Jerusalem, or somesuch — lawmakers have taken the sides of other nations. But to have-a-face to face and say, in general, we will take your side against the White House — that sounds to me extraordinary.”
Reagan meets the Taliban and refers to them as Afghanistan’s founding fathers, despite their remarkable ability to deny even the most fundamental of human rights.*
Ronnie Reagan loved his Founding Fathers (Mujahadeen, aka the Taliban, in Afghanistan) and his Freedom Fighters (the Contras in Nicaragua). The ‘Fathers’ were fighting the Communist ‘menace’ and the ‘Fighters’ an elected leftist government. In Afghanistan, where the Soviets invaded to grab property for a natural gas pipeline, the Taliban prevailed and then Afghans died in the tens of thousands at their hands. In Nicaragua, our chosen right wing dictator and his Contras ultimately were run out by the people and the left wing government, headed by Daniel Ortega – came back into power by election. But Reagan (and his manipulators) got to play lords of the universe. (That ole’ military-industrial complex played a role too . . .)
Blogger futile democracy has some interesting history on American empire, something that got a long airing here a few days ago. Worth a read.
And given the subject here, let’s remember that today is the 341st day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.
*Pix and caption from his post.