There is a lotta euphemism in Washington these days, and what we are hearing is a lot of talk (see W.S.J.) about “advisors.” I remember the word from the time of John F. Kennedy – he sent them “advisors,” too, when I was just very little. The bullshit seems to come back again and again, though. In any event, here I would like to record my version of the current version of the “advisers” rhetoric/bullshit. It is not true that “we” (the United States) are trying to “bridge ethnic tensions.” “We” and “They” are just a big happy family eh? That would be a bit over the top (to say the least): Sunni and Shia like “Ebony and Ivory” in the Stevie Wonder song? America & Iraq, Sunni & Shia, sounds like it’ll run on Broadway. “Bridge ethnic tensions” is a phrase molded in some phraseology factory in D.C. Three words. Carefully constructed words. In any case I do not agree, and I think that what “we” seek is not to bridge but to block. Specifically, I thought we were seeking to stop – or block or stop – terrorism. Well, that’s what I thought. Hey, aren’t I silly? The president says we are trying to help Suni and Shia get along. This I find extremely stupid. They do not get along. Really: How can we make them do it, then? How could “we” make the two groups get along? It’s just baffling. The idea is terribly abstract, terribly far away.
The Shia like us very little, but don’t forget: neither do the Sunnis. So, TWO groups who like us very little. Right now in Iraq, the U. S. seeks to stop an Islamist Terror Group intent on slaughter. Slaughter: that is what they are trying to do. Now, the Islamist Terror Society is not trying to midwife two rival Iraqi sects to get along. We are. We say we are. So give me a break. It is the former of the two. What I mean is it is definitely not midwifery that the IS is up to. (Slaughtering and midwifery being the two different concepts)
This is the question, next: do we simply bomb and kill? That’s what they do! Impossible for me to make sense of this. How would bombing other persons help them get along? We inserted ourselves into Iraqi affairs in order to do violence. At the same time it was supposedly going to end the violence. We promote peace. So then: does one attack persons with violence as the way to get them to get along better? To an American, these things make sense. But as I said, I do not understand it. Nor do I get the “advisor” stuff, really.
Let me suggest that the U. S. is the one that needs an “advisor.” But, that is not the story line, is it? Mr. U. S. Government: You are the one who give—advice = Paternalism.
Assuming that, according to the standard thinking, President Obama is concerned with what he says he is concerned with, and therefore opposed to policies “detrimental to the country’s minority Sunni population” (WSJ 06/20/2014), then he also fails to grasp the dynamic of how the Islamist “puritans” (as they have been termed) – as well as any fascists in general – is to force a situation of solidarity. They favor one group; they exclude another entire ethnicity. So how likely is it that Obama can engineer a reconcilliation under those terms? I can’t believe they take this seriously. I suppose they discuss it in the White House (which seems to open up more questions). There is a situation here between two groups and it was laid out a long time ago. The Sunni are a distinct sect, a school of Islam. As such they practice one kind of Islam. This is similar to the way the Protestants were different from Catholicism in for example the 16th century.
Within a dynamic that forces solidarity on one’s own side, Maliki has to (repeat, has to) act on behalf of ‘his people’ because they won’t let him do anything else. OK, let’s further say that since this internal pressure is present he does so. Maybe it is not a kind of pressure he is free to discuss or talk to Obama about, but it is real, and he must obey. There just isn’t any choice, except if we really launch into far-away ideas. So, what I am saying is that we aren’t really understanding their lives and the way life is over there. Maliki has to show loyalty to the Shia. And, in mirror fashion, the Sunnis: they also have to follow through with what is a forced imperative for both sides. That’s how that works. But the West does not seem able to, or we do not want to, understand this. Can president Obama really wade into this? That’s nuts. It hurts to think about. (We also need, as said, to ask whether they really believe this themselves, in their White House meetings… I wonder if my puzzlement upon re-encountering the notion of “advisors” only reflects some act the politicians put on for a camera. Or some fictional T.V. sitcom.
ADDITIONAL (Sept. 22)
Iraq does not presently have a strong government. The U. S. action was largely unsuccessful in that regard. The U. S. never admits it up front. In any case, there is not a strong government to replace Saddam Hussein. It follows, then, that a militia like IS could take a hunk of territory. This is most likely a city. But on the other hand, as Iraq is mostly desert, there are big cities in Iraq sort of suddenly coming up out of the desert in various locations, I guess. It follows that any political authority that pops up will establish its authority over the inhabitants of that city first. That local area, in any case, now has a government. This is how political states work, so this is not so mysterious. In a classical war, the victors take over the administrative function. They assume authority over the population, and those lives may not even be that much for the worse. It’s hard to say I guess. For example, Immanuel Kant lived in a city that had been absorbed by the French, had become French, and he even admired French qualities. So, that’s how change occurs I suppose. In Iraq, the same. Whole populations, would submit to whoever is currently the authority, the ruler, which is to say whomever requires basic obedience from them.
Now, what about the US? Can we absolutely say the situation is different here? We have our laws to obey. There are certain elites. There are also the more common persons. As to the latter, they do what they are supposed to. There is also the added dimension: “Freedom.” But this is a deeply held subjective belief. In fact, they are like other subjects of governments—they follow rules, within an overall political structure. They are expected to follow the laws and that’s how it works. It is not really that mysterious. They have authorities over them. They follow rules. They respect property. For the U.S. property rights are sacrosanct. I think in this society persons are also obligated to get properties of their own—investments and money. Otherwise, you will be “the poor.” And they try to earn a living. That’s their job—but also their job is to be obedient to the ruling authorities.
Do we usually think of it this way? No—despite that, this is all quite plausible, even in the good ol’ U.S.A.
Now you have a “terrorist,” “barbarian,” murderous and brutal force, in control of actual territory. It is distinct from living in secret cells, or in Afghanistan, in the way of life practiced by the al Qaeda organization, so here you have a new situation—it is basically land and persons. There are many things characteristic of any geographical places. The “terrorists” are not merely in a building somewhere. In that case, you raid the building. You “smoke ’em out.” You get the women and children out, then smoke out the rest maybe. Here there seems to be a very big difference to note: the inhabitants are in a landscape, a living space, what I just called a geographical place. And it has its natural characteristics. There are many buildings: there is a city, a living site, a living space. This distinction seems to be entirely lost on most Americans. What are in these cities like Mosul are human populations, so you have the whole conjoined situation of land, and of persons living on/in that land. We do not call these populations hostages. They are in geography, and this includes also the case of the conditions that pertain to urban life. They can go out of the house and into the street. They can continue to go to their jobs and earn money. They can continue their family associations. Germans lived under Hitler. And if they were German, they had to behave; but, they lived. They were the populace; they continued to go to work. They never, in the usual case, say a word of rebellion. They respected their government. The inhabitants of the these places in Iraq and Syria now have to act the same way. They are simply citizens of a new kind of state—a caliphate, if you want. The leaders of these places are intelligent – if immoral – Iraqis. They learned their lessons while in U. S. custody, from what I know of the case of the IS leader, or their top guy. Some of these leaders worked for Saddam Hussein. We deposed him but we didn’t put the country back together, so that’s what happens. We tore down but did not build up. We never put a new regime into place. Now this is what happened but nobody will admit it. Still, it seems to be the case. I don’t know if my saying so in public will do much good. Into this new, wild untamed place that followed the failure, and that the U. S. of course simply pretended was not there (since the newspapers did not cover it, it isn’t there) comes now new authority, new rulers, and the most terroristic, anti-U.S. force one could imagine, a refined version of al-Qaeda, a competitor, which has rejected al-Qaeda’s authority. And now this new group has control over actual geographical territory. They have land.
(the post was modified Sept. 10, after I saw on the blogspace that someone has visited it.)
(Although reading this morning’s newspaper seems to conflict, in some details, with what I am saying, it actually bears out the line of argument. Knowing what they would be doing, the Americans are saying they will not engage in massive bombing raids. So, then what? Medium bombing, followed by troops? How would that go?)