Sunday, October 19, 2014

Canada, ISIS and Assad

For critics of harper's joining the attack on ISIS, who say that in so doing he has made us an ally of Assad, ... I'm sorry but that ship has sailed. We (and the USA) made Assad an ally when we outsourced the torture of Canadian citizens to him.

If it really was the case that we're "allying" with Assad, not in a formal way, but as being enemies of his enemies, I'd be fine with that. Because as monstrous as Assad and his regime are (and they are monstrous) Syria will be better off under Assad than ISIS. Just as Libya was better off under Qaddafi and Iraq was better off under Saddam Hussein.

But the fact of the matter is that we have not allied ourselves with Assad in any way, shape, or form. Barack Obama (who wanted to bomb Syria last summer) has taken advantage of the war on ISIS to bomb Syrian oil installations, granaries and other props of the Assad regime. Because that's what this is all about.

There is a level of confusion and ignorance on Obama's latest adventure in the Middle East that affects everyone. It goes from people who start from the ridiculous notion that George W. Bush sought to build a democratic Iraq, all the way down to people who recognize that this region's sufferings are caused by its enormous oil reserves and their importance to the capitalist world system.

Given that fact, I see no reason why I should not provide my analysis, regardless of whatever level of ignorance or confusion I have about the topic.

Some people try to present Barack Obama as having inherited a mess from Bush 43, and that he is a reluctant warrior (or even "Obambi" as one right-wing doofus referred to him here) trying not to do "stupid shit." This is wrong. To the extent that he has been able to, Obama is continuing the policies of Bush 43. Because these are the policies of the USA's political and economic elites. These are not the policies of one man, or one party.

The petroleum sector (and that includes all the industry that rely on it and have built themselves up around it) is an enormously important sector of the US economy. More important is the access to Middle-East petroleum for the USA's allies in Europe and Japan. That they continue to enjoy this access at the pleasure of the US and its oil-exporting allies in the region, is a major prop to the US-dominated world system. Depriving rivals such as Russia and China from allies in the region, and, for China, from secure access to petroleum, is yet another important element in the USA's control of the world. Finally, maintaining the US $ as the currency for pricing and the buying and selling of the world's oil is of enormous important to the all-important financial elite in the United States.

The confusion that bedevils everyone (including those supposedly in the drivers' seats) about the "ISIS-CRISIS" arises from the fact that the Obama administration is trying to do a multitude of evil, fucked-up things at once. And it is trying to do much of this by using allies who have their own evil and fucked-up agendas.

Who here thinks that Israel and Israelis like Hamas? Who thinks that Hamas are Israeli puppets? Nobody? Who knows that Israeli agents helped Hamas grow as a way to weaken and embarrass the PLO? Who can see that cynical policies pursued for one specific purpose can take on a life of their own in the case of Israel and Hamas?

It is my belief that corrupt, decadent, Sunni Arab princelings, export their angry young men to fight secular or Shiite regimes, out of genuine sectarian madness and as a way to get these young men out of their own countries where some of them might have turned their anger against them. I think they honestly believe that they can prevail against the secularists and the Shia, but that they will never turn their guns on their former paymasters. Because the next logical step for a Sunni fundamentalist fighter who has exterminated the secularists in Lebanon and Syria, and the Kurds and the Shia, would not be fellow Sunni states (however corrupt) but Jewish Israel. And then, they would all be killed. And there's no way that they could attack Israel (or Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE) without the United States stepping in.

It is my belief that the leaders of the ISIS movement have some understanding of this. But they might believe that if they last long enough, and gain access to enough oil and enough of the markets for that oil, that they can build a society in line with their blinkered religious delusions, and thereby build up their strength so that it will be impossible for the US to dislodge them, and, perhaps they will be able to attack Israel, or, surprise their corrupt former paymasters and conquer at least some of them.

Presiding over all of this is the United States corrupt ruling elites. Syria is one of the last bastions of semi-independence in that part of the world. An actual ally of Russia (which has a naval base there). But it is not a major oil-exporter. It can go to hell for a while, and collapse in complete bloody anarchy, so long as Assad is gone. Libya was much more important as a source of oil and while the chaos there might be worse than the US might have wanted or anticipated, the loss of its oil on world markets hasn't been too terrible to bear. (The sufferings of the Libyan people, as their country's infrastructure falls to pieces, and they become the subjects of deranged, warring fundamentalist, sectarian fanatics, is of entirely no consequence to Washington's policy makers.)

Iraq's Shia-dominated Maliki government had ruled by violence. He tortured and murdered. That wasn't much of a problem for Washington. What was a problem was Maliki's closeness to Shia-ruled Iran. Iran is a problem because it rebelled against the USA in 1979 and demands to act as an independent regional power. Did Bush 43 seek to provide Iran with an ally in Iraq? No. He wanted to eliminate the semi-independent Saddam Hussein. Which was part of a long process beginning with his father, Bush 41 and then Clinton, the president between them. Continuity. So, Bush 43 got rid of Saddam and wound up with Maliki. How convenient then, that ISIS was allowed to mass its forces on the Iraqi border and then plunge-in (with the assistance of disaffected Iraqi Sunni leaders many of who had been military leaders under the Sunni-dominated regime of Saddam Hussein) and conquer the western portions of Iraq, leading to the destabilization and eventual fall of the uncomfortably independent Maliki.

ISIS is, for all intents and purposes, a tool of US foreign policy. In the same way that Hamas was a tool of Israel's policies. And in the same way, ISIS is no more a puppet, or an invention of the USA.

So, why is harper signing-up for this? Well, for starters, sucking up to the USA is a huge issue for our military, political and economic elites. So there's that. Also, harper knows that wars create opportunities for mindless patriotism and boosts in domestic support levels. harper is a shameless militarist anyway, and the many conflicts we have been engaged in have been good for Canada's military-industrial complex. That's about it. harper knows that Canadian support for further military quagmires is razor-thin though, so he's only committing to safe, non-committal things like air-strikes against ISIS in Iraq. Things could spin out of control though. Especially if Washington sees the need to make demands of Canada (which they probably won't).

But our participation in this debacle only implicates us in all of the scuzziness described above. That is why our default response to calls for Canadian participation in crises overseas should be, must be, rejection of those pleas, until such a time as Canada has a genuinely democratic government. Which will be a long, long time from now.



greg said...

I have been reading that the u.s. knows exactly what they're doing and had everything planned out well in advance. I hope they don't know and they're in over their heads. Anyway, thanks again for pointing me to Counter punch. Some truly horrifying stuff. I'm so mixed up by all the objectives of all the various countries and sects and deals.

Bill Maher spoke nothing about this in the last show. He was obsessed with Ebola. I don't know about that guy. Sometimes he's on, sometimes he's not.

thwap said...

Not even the US elites are in control. But they're the most powerful of several players.

And they have multiple things going on at once and sometimes those things conflict.