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, in a recycling pattern. Be that as it may, I would like to here record my version of the current version – of that old “advisors” stuff. I think it is all just a bunch of rhetoric or bullshit. Either/or, or both. It is not true that “we” (meaning a few U. S. geniuses making our policy) are trying to “bridge ethnic tensions.” “We” and “They.” Just one big happy family aren’t we? That would be a bit over the top (to say the least). Sunni & Shia like “Ebony and Ivory”? In the Stevie Wonder song. It’ll play on Broadway, America & Iraq, Sunni & Shia, yes, it sounds like it’ll run on Broadway. “Bridge ethnic tensions” is a phrase molded in some phraseology factory. Must be in D.C. where this happens. Three words. Three carefully constructed words, “bridge ethnic tensions.”
In any case: I do not agree and I think that what we seek is not to bridge, but to block. Specifically, block or stop terrorism. Well, that’s what I thought. Hey, aren’t I the silliest one? No, the president says we are trying to help Suni and Shia get along. This, I find stupid. They do not get along. Really, they don’t: How can we make them do it, then? How could this strange “We” make them 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 much for that Broadway musical extravaganza I was hoping to see. Not this evening. So, anyways, here’s the scoop: these are two particular groups that like us very little. Right now, in Iraq, the U. S. is working on stopping an Islamist Terror Group, we’ll call it that, which is intent on slaughter. Slaughter. That is accurate. This is what they are trying to do. That is not controversial. Now. They are not doing the “get along” business. We are in that business. The “Islamist Terror Society” is not trying to midwife two rival Iraqi sects to get along, we are. We say we are. So that is U. S. rhetoric/bullshit. Which is it? Give me a break. It is the former of the two. What I mean is that it is not midwifery, that the ISIS is up to. (Slaughtering and midwifery appears as being two different concepts…)
This is the question, then: Do we simply bomb and kill? I don’t think so. Because, that is just what they do so in that case we would not be doing much that is uniquely American, or have anything special anymore. Impossible for me to make sense of this dumb reaction of our simply using our bombs, against their bombs. And how would bombing other persons help them get along? This I am confused about.
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. That is the job of this great “We.” 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 gives advice, only you — advice = Paternalism.
Assuming that in accordance to 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” (which they have been termed by one Islamic writer) – as well as any fascists, fascism in general – try to force a situation of solidarity. They favor one group and exclude another group. In this case, an 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 (but that seems to open up many more questions). Getting back to the field of play (and advice): 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)
Assuming that Iraq does not presently have a strong government, as a result of U. S. actions, we were largely unsuccessful in that regard. The U. S. never admits it up front but it may be so. In any case, there was no strong government to replace Saddam Hussein. That is not controversial. It follows, then, that a militia like ISIS could take a lot of territory. This is most likely a city. On the other hand, Iraq is mostly desert, and after traveling through it, there are big cities that in Iraq sort of suddenly come up out of the desert. I guess, so it follows that any political authority that pops up will establish its authority over the inhabitants of the city, not the sandy area. That local area, in any case, whatever it is, now has a government. This is how political states work. So this is not mysterious. In a classical war the victors take over administrative functions and become the new authorities. They assume authority over the population, and those lives may not even be very much for the worse. It’s hard to say. 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. In Iraq, it is no different. It would be the same. Whole populations would submit to whoever is currently the authority. If we say the ruler, that is to say whomever requires basic obedience from them.
Now, what about the US? Can we absolutely say our culture differs? Is the situation is different here in the US? 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 of what we call “freedom.” This corresponds to a deeply held subjective belief, in that freedom. In real fact they are like other subjects of governments—they follow rules within an overall political structure. They are expected to follow the laws; so, that is how it works. It is not really that mysterious. They have authorities over them, they follow rules. And they respect property. That’s a big one. For the U.S., property rights are holy. I think in this society persons are also obligated to get properties of their own—buy your investments, hoard that 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, it is plausible that there exists something like authority, even in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Now you have a “terrorist,” “barbarian” force, a murderous and brutal force in control of territory. This is distinct from having secret cells, for example. 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 and a natural living space, which is 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 because they are in the geography. The geography includes also the case of urban life. They can go out of the house. Into the street. They can go to their jobs, they can 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 lived that way. They continued to go to work. They never, in the usual case, say a word of rebellion. They respected their government. Or they obeyed. The inhabitants of the these places in Iraq and Syria now must behave similarly. In the simplest way of looking at it they are the citizens of a new kind of state—a caliphate if you like. The leaders of these places are intelligent – if immoral – Iraqis. They learned their lessons while in U. S. custody, from what I learned. 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 the new authority. So, there are the new rulers, and the most terroristic, anti-U.S. force one could imagine, similar to al-Qaeda but also a competitor that has rejected al-Qaeda as their authority. And now this new group has control over actual geographical territory, they have land. That is my take on the situation with IS.
(the post was modified Sept. 10, after I was impressed that someone has visited this.)
(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 level of harm 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?)