Tuesday, July 25, 2006

US Foreign Policy taking another Orwellian swerve

I have two rival hypotheses to explain the behavior of the Bush administration in the foreign policy area. The first is that it is run by a bunch of war-mongering radical neocons who are supported by the usual set of Bush cronies that profit from their actions: Halliburton, oil companies, defense contractors, etc. The second is even scarier: there is in fact no foreign policy at all. Various groups jockey for power (Pentagon, State Department, neoconservatives, rapture-ready funamentalists, the "let Israel do anything it wants to" lobby) but all are desperately afraid of giving bad news to Bush and thus falling out of favor. Bush isn't really able to decide who's right among them, so his speechwriters use vague phrases and everyone tries to figure out what the policy is from those, and from our actions.

The latest swerve in the road seems to be that the US is siding with Sunnis against Shiites. Digby links to Billmon who is stunned by the following quote in the Telegraph:
White House aides have said they consider the Lebanon crisis to be a "leadership moment" for Mr Bush and an opportunity to proceed with his post-September 11 plan to reshape the Middle East by building Sunni Arab opposition to Shia terrorism. Yesterday Mr Bush cited the role of Iran and Syria in providing help to Hezbollah.
[emphasis added] OK, if the Sunnis are now the good guys and the Shiites are the bad guys, why exactly did we depose Saddam in Iraq, who was probably the biggest regional counterweight to Shiite extremism in the area? (Yes, we was a murderous tyrant, too. But since when has that prevented us from playing realpolitik with anyone?) And who ended up replacing Saddam? Shiites who seem awfully friendly with big, bad Iran (and the rhetoric coming from Iran's president is completely unhinged and apocolyptic, even by the feverish standards of the region). Oh, and they seem to like using death squads, too.

The Bush administration's bumbling search for "the guys with white hats" in the Middle East doesn't end. Right now they seem to think that Israel and various "moderate" Sunni Arab regimes are the key to stability. Condi is heading over there to enlist them in the cause:
"She's not going to come home with a ceasefire but stronger ties to the Arab world," said a senior official. "It's going to allow us to say that America isn't going to put up with this and we have Arab friends that are against you terrorists. What we want is our Arab allies standing against [Shia] Hezbollah and against Iran, since there is no one who doesn't think Iran is behind this. We're going to say to Hezbollah and the terrorist groups, 'This will not stand.'
Hmm. So Condi is going to the Middle East to get stronger ties to the Arab world, while at the same time, the US is supporting Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilian infrastructure. Somehow, I'm not convinced that's going to work. Oh, and what happened to all that "promoting democracy" rhetoric? Don't hear much about it now that those we're trying to enlist (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Syria) are all dictatorships and monarchies. So all that talk about "democracy", never that credible to begin with, is now revealed to be meaningless hot air.

This stuff is down-the-rabbit-hole, Kool-Aid Big-Gulp, completely batshit Orwell level insanity.

Here's one more bit of surrealism (HT: Atrios): Iraq is already being called "The Forgotten War" by CNN here. What does that make Afghanistan? The "other forgotten war"?

3 Comments:

Anonymous Justin said...

Gee, why ever would we want to designate Shi`a (specifically) as the enemy? I can't imagine.

2:12 AM, July 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard to keep these superstitions straight but let's see if we can follow the history....

in 1979 the Shi'a became villains when they overthrew our favorite shah and took our agents hostage. So the next year we colluded with sorta-Sunni Saddam to teach those usurpers a lesson but...

in 1991 our buddy took more of Kuwait than we had said he could so we dropped half a million troops on his head and urged his Shi'a subjects to revolt against him (though we didn't lift a finger to help them and stood by as Saddam drained their swamps and crushed them) but then...

in 2001 Osama bin L and his crew of merry men, Sunnis all, bitchslapped us hard so we went after him and his total non-pal Saddam and then we sent Saddam's Baathist buddies into the wilderness and told the Shi'a you are the majority so you run the country now but then some Sunni started insurrecting and the Shi'a started deathsquadding and our hapless boys were caught in the crossfire so now...

maybe we should give up on them both and invite the Mormons in. They are expert missionaries and they do deserts pretty well.

2:40 AM, July 30, 2006  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Thanks for posting, anonymous. Yes, the crazy history of our incoherent Mideast policy. You could go back to the CIA helping to overthrow Iran's Mossedegh back in the 1950's, which led to the Shah, who in turn was overthrown by the 1979 revolution.

I wish this administration demonstrated the knowledge displayed by anonymous posters to my little blog.

6:52 AM, July 30, 2006  

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