Share good ideas and conversation.   Login, Join Us, or Take a Tour!
comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  1680 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Truth About the Wars

Shit, now I'm going to have to read more Robert Kaplan.

The Revenge of Geography pretty much breaks the world up into its natural spheres of influence - based not on who's in charge or what religion is running things, but by what mountain ranges protect what groups and by what river valleys provide what resources. One of Kaplan's tenets (and he bases it on a long list of thinkers going back to the Greeks) is that a straight border is an imaginary border.

Iraq has some straight-ass borders.

Kaplan points out that historically, Babylon is Greater Persia. He also points out that from a geopolitical standpoint, the Middle East from Israel to India is Greater Persia - organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah have more influence than local governments in many instances. So by walking into Iraq and Afghanistan and wrecking the local order, we're essentially making these countries easier for Iran to influence.

Goddamn it, and it's not exactly engaging reading, either.

b_b  ·  1680 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    One of Kaplan's tenets (and he bases it on a long list of thinkers going back to the Greeks) is that a straight border is an imaginary border.

I think we often mistake the arbitrary borders of the Mideast as evidence of a lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of the post-WWI architects of the modern day borders. I think it's evidence of the exact opposite. I think that they knew exactly what they were doing by lumping various tribes, sects, and ethnicities together under a single flag. Essentially, it was a cynical plot to ensure that there would never be anything like domestic cohesion in any of these regimes, and that, therefore, they would perpetually be client states of the West.

Saddam had the audacity to think outside the territory that the West allotted him. That was his sin. It wasn't as if he suddenly turned brutal at the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq conflict, in which we were all too eager to supply him. It wasn't until he violated the territorial integrity of Kuwait that we suddenly heard all about his chemical attacks and nuclear aspirations.

Although, cynical, at least it was a policy. The Neocons seemed to have forgotten this history--which they seemed to know quite well in 1991--as of 2002. Maybe they saw it as a chance for a reset. They had already imposed sanctions that they couldn't very well violate easily, but there was still wealth to be exploited. They needed a reset. Unfortunately for them, W was very ideologically committed to democracy. I think his lip service to it was actually genuine, so Cheney, Rice, Wolfowitz, et al. toed the party line for the sake of expediency. Left to them, I think a new dictator would have been installed quickly, and the result may have been different. Layman's speculation.

kleinbl00  ·  1680 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's... an intriguing argument.

Your argument for the failure of W, by the way, closely parallels the best arguments I've seen for the failure of Gorbachev. He was an idealist Communist in a world of cynical kleptocrats and once the principles of communism were put to the test, the whole house of cards collapsed.

b_b  ·  1680 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I should note also that Obama isn't that great on history either. Speaking of Gorbachev, he was in the news trying to clue everyone in about what Putin's Big Idea in Ukraine is. It's exactly what everyone who has read any amount of Russian military history already knows: that Russia will never tolerate not having a buffer zone between Moscow and Europe. NATO on Russia's borders is unacceptable to Russia. Putin isn't "crazy", as the media portray him; he's simply following the script that all Russian leaders since Peter the Great have followed. It's tragic that we don't seem to know that. I suppose it's simpler and serves our interests more to claim that a foreign leader is crazy and erratic than to address the realpolitik in the room.

kleinbl00  ·  1680 days ago  ·  link  ·  

All the Cold Warists went NeoCon with Condi.

b_b  ·  1680 days ago  ·  link  ·  

W was a terrible president. I believe that with every ounce of political knowledge I possess. But I also believe that he's a genuine idealist. I truly believe that he thought Iraq and the Palestinian territories would be saved through democracy. When you hear him speak, especially post presidency, you can feel his sincerity. The problem is he's just not that smart, and his appreciation for history seems to be skin deep.

Cheney, on the other hand, is the devil incarnate. I don't think he believes in anything except himself. Cheney knows history, and chooses to believe he can outsmart it. Sadly, no one can escape history. Jon Stewart used to have this running Cheney-as-Darth-Vader bit, but I always found it inappropriate, because Vader is a redemptive character. Cheney is The Emperor, and his conceit buried a lot of people.

Tomorrow on Morning Edition they're airing an interview with W that covers the difference between the Gulf War and the Iraq War. I'm sure I'll not agree with what he has to say, but I'm interested in hearing him say it nonetheless.

kleinbl00  ·  1680 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I believe that W was keenly disinterested in the world around him and felt his understanding of the world was adequate for policymaking. He was a "shoot from the hip" president whose hip was a bad place to shoot from.

    One congressman -- the Hungarian-born Tom Lantos, a Democrat from California and the only Holocaust survivor in Congress -- mentioned that the Scandinavian countries were viewed more positively. Lantos went on to describe for the president how the Swedish Army might be an ideal candidate to anchor a small peacekeeping force on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Sweden has a well-trained force of about 25,000. The president looked at him appraisingly, several people in the room recall.

    ''I don't know why you're talking about Sweden,'' Bush said. ''They're the neutral one. They don't have an army.''

    Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a gentlemanly reply: ''Mr. President, you may have thought that I said Switzerland. They're the ones that are historically neutral, without an army.'' Then Lantos mentioned, in a gracious aside, that the Swiss do have a tough national guard to protect the country in the event of invasion.

    Bush held to his view. ''No, no, it's Sweden that has no army.''

    The room went silent, until someone changed the subject.

    A few weeks later, members of Congress and their spouses gathered with administration officials and other dignitaries for the White House Christmas party. The president saw Lantos and grabbed him by the shoulder. ''You were right,'' he said, with bonhomie. ''Sweden does have an army.''

New York Times Magazine 10/17/2004

Cheney, I feel, operates out of a place of deep cynicism. He was in the Nixon white house when Democrats dismantled it. He was in Congress when Clinton's CIA missed the bus on pretty much everything Iraq did have going on. I do not believe he views democrats, minorities, foreigners or the poor as human, but within the framework of those he does view as worthwhile, I believe he legitimately operates for their best interests.

alpha0  ·  1680 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    … they knew exactly what they were doing …

Exactly so. Now let's give the meat abacus a whirl and compute the meaning of starting "The Muslim Brotherhood" by British intelligence.

b_b  ·  1680 days ago  ·  link  ·