The Dim-Post

February 24, 2015

Off to Iraq

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 5:23 pm
Tags:
  • I’m not as outraged at Key and National as most people on the left, because I think that if Labour were in government our commitment to the latest US/UK adventure in Iraq would be pretty much identical. The marketing would be different: our troops would be providing ‘humanitarian aid’: painting schools, standing up for women’s rights, and so on, instead of National’s more paternal ‘training the Iraqi army’ pretext. But I just can’t see a Labour PM saying ‘no’ to Obama.
  • Also, our defense chiefs and MFAT mandarins will have been in Key’s office for months, gibbering and howling like rabid monkeys that we ‘have to get in the game, have to be in the room, have to be at the table’ regarding Iraq because urging our involvement in every single British and American military action seems like pretty much all we pay these guys to do. Key seems to be making the minimal commitment – sixteen trainers – he can to satisfy our allies and their ‘deep state’ servants/clients in the New Zealand public service.
  • The Atlantic Monthly had an article on ‘What ISIS really wants‘ which I found helpful. I was struck by the similarities between ISIS and the Khmer Rouge. It almost seems like bombing a country to rubble and destroying all its civic institutions has terrible repercussions and leads to the rise of obscene murderous extremist groups. So I’m pessimistic that the upcoming western air campaign against ISIS will lead to great things downstream, or that New Zealand is ‘doing the right thing’ by enabling it.

110 Comments »

  1. if you’re suggesting that what iraq actually needs is stable government, less negative international intervention, and something approximating civil society, then yeah, it’s exactly like cambodia.

    Comment by Che Tibby — February 24, 2015 @ 5:30 pm

  2. At present though defeating ISIS is a prerequisite to a stable govt. There are of course other prerequisites such as inclusiveness but ISIS aren’t just a product of Iraqi inter-sectarian conflict.

    Any reconstruction – which National is commuting resources to and which Labour appears to support – can’t happen unless there’s a military defeat of ISIS.

    I was struck by the similarities between ISIS and the Khmer Rouge. It almost seems like bombing a country to rubble and destroying all its civic institutions has terrible repercussions and leads to the rise of obscene murderous extremist groups.

    Assad has a lot to answer for.

    Comment by NeilM — February 24, 2015 @ 5:48 pm

  3. Khmer Rouge overthrown by foreign intervention. And the Vietnamese communists weren’t exactly Obama but I doubt there’s many who would say things would have been better had that not happened.

    Comment by NeilM — February 24, 2015 @ 5:56 pm

  4. Better off helping the Philippines where dozens are being killed each month by Moslem extremists. Sadly though no bombing a country to rubble and destroying all its civic institutions narrative.

    Khmer Rouge? Yeah where are all the secular left wing extremists these days?

    Comment by Simon — February 24, 2015 @ 6:25 pm

  5. If ISIS are Khmer Rouge, who plays the role of socialist Vietnam? I’m rooting for Syria.

    Comment by KF — February 24, 2015 @ 7:03 pm

  6. A bit ;unfair Daryl to assume Labour would do the same as National……………that’s mere speculation.

    Comment by anker — February 24, 2015 @ 7:14 pm

  7. I’d cut John Key a bit more slack if he’d offered up that his outrage at the excesses of ISIS extended to driving young Max to the recruiting office forthwith, but alas only the children of lower deciles appear to be worthy of inclusion in this war.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 24, 2015 @ 7:19 pm

  8. Labour sent troops to both Afghanistan and Iraq and that was at the behest of Bush.

    Who knows what they might do now but supporting bombing in some vague way and ignoring what Obama had to say all looks s bit ill thought out.

    Or maybe they just liked being really good friends with Bush.

    Comment by NeilM — February 24, 2015 @ 7:24 pm

  9. “It almost seems like bombing a country to rubble and destroying all its civic institutions……….”

    Based on the aftermath of WW2 it is the latter rather than the former that is the critical factor. What emerged from the rubble of Germany, Japan and Sth Korea has been overwhelmingly positive. One key factor was the longstanding presence of US forces in all three countries. Perhaps the US forces left Iraq before they should have?

    Comment by Tinakori — February 24, 2015 @ 7:28 pm

  10. Tinakori – you might want to ask a Korean if the result of intervention on the peninsula was overwhelmingly positive, what with 25% of the population exterminated, decades of dictatorship and repression, a 60 year frozen conflict and all.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2015 @ 7:48 pm

  11. I’m glad you said the training was a pretext. To spell it out Kiwi soldiers, SAS, will be providing intelligence. This means patrolling beyond the wire and guiding bombs. It’s going to war to help kill people.

    Comment by Neil Miller — February 24, 2015 @ 7:50 pm

  12. You’re absolutely right, Gregor. They could all be living under the thumb of the family who continue to rule North Korea. No Samsung, LG, Hyundai, elections, high incomes, avoiding grass as a main course at dinner……..etc. etc. A real thumbsucker that one.

    Comment by Tinakori — February 24, 2015 @ 7:54 pm

  13. Tinakori, the DKRP would not have existed without foreign meddling. Read a history book.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2015 @ 8:02 pm

  14. Our 16 trainers won’t make any difference either way. So there’s not much point debating Iraq and ISIS here. It’s all been said, and all of it basically irrelevant (in geo-political terms).

    There’s every point debating our unravelling Prime Minister though. That is something we can influence. I would suggest a long holiday, but he’s just had one. So I dunno – drugs? therapy? a cuddle?

    The man needs something, he’s gone doolally, big time.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — February 24, 2015 @ 8:03 pm

  15. @ Sanc
    “alas only the children of lower deciles appear to be worthy of inclusion in this war”
    and so you have stereotyped (which I presume was your goal) the entire NZDF. Tell me, did you think it was right that New Zealand went to Europe to fight the NAZI’s?

    Comment by Grant — February 24, 2015 @ 8:06 pm

  16. Sorry I seem to have missed the salient point of what should be done.

    Comment by simon — February 24, 2015 @ 8:16 pm

  17. >But I just can’t see a Labour PM saying ‘no’ to Obama.

    I can.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 24, 2015 @ 8:17 pm

  18. Assumes a lot.

    Comment by simon — February 24, 2015 @ 8:30 pm

  19. Well a very intelligent Labour PM said yes to Bush. Maybe Little is more capable and will say no to Obama. All he has to is say Obama you are wrong. Plenty of opportunity to say that. But he hasn’t.

    Face it, Labour are opposing for opposing’s sake and will lose out with those on the left that support intervention but also to those that don’t.

    Comment by NeilM — February 24, 2015 @ 8:41 pm

  20. Neil, it is quite extraordinary that you constantly attack the opposition for asking the questions, but never the Prime Minister for his answers.

    “You chicken, you big chickeny chicken” is Key’s bellowed justification for this deployment. Has there ever been a more infantile, insincere rationale for deploying troops overseas? Don’t you feel just a teeny bit embarrassed at the Parliamentary debate he leads?

    Yes, there is a case to be made for NZ’s contribution. But the man whose job it is to make that case hasn’t done so, at all. Not least because people like you gladly give him a free pass for anything – simply not being the Labour party is all the rationale you require.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — February 24, 2015 @ 8:53 pm

  21. Samy, I voted Clark, I supported her foreign policy – because I’m a bit of an old school lefty internationalist.

    So, yeah I’m surprised a bit with Key’s recent conversion to that and I’m dismayed by Labour’s reverting to knee jerk anti- Americanism.

    Comment by NeilM — February 24, 2015 @ 9:01 pm

  22. “…and so you have stereotyped (which I presume was your goal) the entire NZDF…”

    Since Max Key went to King’s college (fees $37,647.00 PA) I think I stereotyped the entire fucking country. As for the Nazi thing that has been exhaustively dealt with, I guess you were too busy being a captain of industry or whatever to notice.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 24, 2015 @ 9:07 pm

  23. Obama has been pretty keen to get the US out of the Middle East. He got troops out of Iraq and out of Afghanistan and was very reluctant to get involved in Syria.

    But things changed, he’s now having to, reluctantly, get back into Iraq.

    He has tried to get the US out. He isn’t Bush. He deserves some recognition for that. And I think he deserves our support.

    If not then the Republicans can go – well Obama he tried that working with the world thing and the world said fuck off imperialist.

    Comment by NeilM — February 24, 2015 @ 9:13 pm

  24. “…The man needs something, he’s gone doolally, big time…”

    I’m amazed the media hasn’t made more of Key’s bizarre performance during his Monday post cabinet news conference regarding Donghua Liu. He basically told a bare faced lie, when informed his office contradicted him, immediately told a completely opposite lie, and when a puzzled journalist pointed that out, he pretended it was all to hard to remember.

    Imagine if that had been Andrew Little. The double standard is breathtaking.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 24, 2015 @ 9:13 pm

  25. Recalling back to 2003 I remember the anti-war arguments as – wrong president and no immediate threat (to ourselves, as if that’s what counted most).

    Well a few years down the tract we have a different president and a threat of a more immediate nature.

    And yet the left will be organising anti-war protests – against Obama.

    Comment by NeilM — February 24, 2015 @ 10:31 pm

  26. Tinakori – the reason Germany and Japan did so well after the war was that they were not allowed to spend anything on armaments or armies.

    Comment by Vita Thomas — February 24, 2015 @ 10:38 pm

  27. Did Iraq really have any civic institutions under Saddam? Only in the most permissive use of the term “civic”, one that few here would indulge.

    If the Baathist structure had been left intact, the narrative would be “It should have been obvious that Iraq would go to hell with all the same old people in charge, why didn’t the UK/US occupiers do the obvious thing and replace them with people with clean hands, providing a clean break with the past like they said they would?”.

    Basically, hindsight is always 20/20.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 24, 2015 @ 11:01 pm

  28. “because I think that if Labour were in government our commitment to the latest US/UK adventure in Iraq would be pretty much identical. The marketing would be different: our troops would be providing ‘humanitarian aid’: painting schools, standing up for women’s rights, and so on, instead of National’s more paternal ‘training the Iraqi army’ pretext. But I just can’t see a Labour PM saying ‘no’ to Obama.”

    A Labour led Govt would probably have said, “yes, if the UN says yes”, or “where the UN goes, we go, where the UN stands, we stand”. As for the Khmer Rouge, it wasn’t the West who overthrew them, but the Viet Cong, who’d only just resisted the very same West for 8+ years.

    All the same, I’m left with the impression that Key’s latest move is going to add an extra hammer to the whack-a-mole game that is the fight against ISIS. There’s still the sticky issue of sectarianism hobbling the Iraqi military to deal with first.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — February 25, 2015 @ 1:25 am

  29. #8 & 25: another thing to consider is that when America was freshly victorious in Japan and Germany, Roosevelt’s New Deal was still the in-thing, and its presence is still keenly felt.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — February 25, 2015 @ 1:36 am

  30. @Kalvarnsen,

    That assumes that even in your counterfactual, things would have ended up exactly the same as they are now. Can we be certain that this would be so (see, for example, the US’s decision to disband the Iraqi army, etc)?

    And even if it is so, then that means this outcome was inevitable as soon as Gulf War II began. Which shows just how bad that decision to go to war was (which a lot of people said at the time without the need for any hindsight).

    @Neil M

    And yet the left will be organising anti-war protests – against Obama.

    Which makes it look like the issue is war itself, not the identity of the US President at all. Bush was very bad for choosing to launch a needless war in Iraq that has had disastrous consequences. Obama is (a bit-less bad) for trying to bomb away the problems caused by that first war. Where’s the contradiction in that?

    Comment by Flashing Light — February 25, 2015 @ 7:21 am

  31. I agree with Danyl’s summary. I would have preferred to see more debate in Parliament, less obscufication and more transparency. True, IS engage in atrocities, but beheadings have been a stock-in-trade in warfare (and peacetime) for – oh, ages- so I feel the recent outrage from Key although heartfelt, was opportunitically exploited. Face it, this was a done deal for some time why not just be grown up about it?

    Comment by Lee Clark — February 25, 2015 @ 7:22 am

  32. The weird thing was watching Key getting all emotional about doing the right thing and the importance of NZ standing up against terrorists, thundering away about the cowardly opposition not being willing to fight against an appalling evil, and it turns out that our level commitment against this existential threat to human rights and civilisation is, er, a dozen or so trainers and associated support staff. To borrow Grant’s analogy, it’s much as though Peter Fraser on 3 Sept 1939 had declared that New Zealand was going to “play its part” against the Nazis by contributing a battalion of logistics personnel.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 25, 2015 @ 7:42 am

  33. @NeilM: We can only speculate, but there are numerous examples elsewhere in the world where unreformed regime elements have exacerbated conflicts, rather than suppressed them. It’s worth noting that Saddam’s apparatus was not particularly optimal at preventing violence, and to the degree it was effective, it was often interdependent – the army and civilian police were set up to prevent violence but their approach to doing so had both formal and informal dependences on the political police, the Baath’ist party elite, and other groups that it would be harder to justify retaining.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 25, 2015 @ 7:48 am

  34. the reason Germany and Japan did so well after the war was that they were not allowed to spend anything on armaments or armies.

    This ignores some very important factors. Japan’s manufacturing capacity and infrastructure was, by and large, undamaged by the war. It was comparatively easy for them to recover economically compared to, say, Poland or France.
    Germany (i.e. West Germany) was seen as the geographic and political keystone to any upcoming war with the Soviet bloc, so the US and its allies flooded the country with investment to rebuild a productive and pro-west nation.

    Comment by Phil — February 25, 2015 @ 8:28 am

  35. Danyl

    > our defense chiefs and MFAT mandarins will have been in Key’s office for months, gibbering and howling like rabid monkeys that we ‘have to get in the game, have to be in the room, have to be at the table’ regarding Iraq because urging our involvement in every single British and American military action seems like pretty much all we pay these guys to do

    You have no idea what advice Defense and MFAT staff may have been giving the Government. You are maligning them from a position of ignorance and malice. These people take their responsibilities very seriously and are typically far from being warmongers.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — February 25, 2015 @ 8:30 am

  36. “Tinakori, the DKRP would not have existed without foreign meddling. Read a history book.”

    And your point was? Blame Japan for bombing Pearl Harbour which set off the chain of events by which Stalin decided he needed to have a stake in the Korean Peninsula in spite of the USSR not playing a role in the defeat of Japan? Or the USSR and China for supporting the North’s invasion of the South? In having the US as the occupying force the South Koreans finally struck a piece of good luck in their 20th century history, a piece of luck that they, with the assistance of the US and others, have turned into a modern prosperous society in which the people get to periodically choose their leaders. I think you need to use your history book to stand on so you can see over the DMZ.

    “Tinakori – the reason Germany and Japan did so well after the war was that they were not allowed to spend anything on armaments or armies.”

    They did have armies and spend money on arms. Heard of the Japan Self Defence Force? Plenty of democratic countries post WW2 had both arms and prosperity.

    Comment by Tinakori — February 25, 2015 @ 8:31 am

  37. That assumes that even in your counterfactual, things would have ended up exactly the same as they are now. Can we be certain that this would be so (see, for example, the US’s decision to disband the Iraqi army, etc)?

    It’s one of those counter factual arguments impossible to determine.

    However a comparison with what has happened in Syria does give a picture of how Iraq could have ended up had Saddam stayed in power.

    And in Syria more people have died in a shorter space of time in a country with a smaller population all from opposition to a regime thought to be less blood thirsty.

    So the no Bush invasion no ISIS theory isn’t necessarily that convincing.

    Comment by NeilM — February 25, 2015 @ 8:40 am

  38. @NeilM,

    Those are pretty stark polar opposites.

    (1) Launch full invasion by external forces, disestablish existing governmental institutions, replace with hopelessly corrupt and ineffective ones until it all gets too hard so you walk away.

    (2) Do nothing while existing regime and various opposition groups battle it out in an increasingly nasty fashion until one of them looks like it might be going to affect you.

    Could it be that neither of these approaches was a good idea, even at the time?

    I’d also note that the (at least initial) reluctance to be involved in Syria in any way largely was a reaction to the mess that previous involvement in Iraq created – so you can’t really disentangle the “bad” outcome in Syria from the purportedly “less bad” one in Iraq.

    Comment by Flashing Light — February 25, 2015 @ 9:19 am

  39. Also – on the Cambodia comparison … there is a regional power that could undertake the same role as Vietnam did in ending the Daesh (Khmer Rouge analogous) activities. It’s just that it’s Iran. And Israel won’t let that happen. So the US gets stuck with the task. Which it can’t really do, and by even trying it pretty much makes things worse.

    But not to worry! More training will fix everything!!

    Comment by Flashing Light — February 25, 2015 @ 9:22 am

  40. @Flashing Light

    Stark alternatives yes and presumable there were other possible futures.

    But I think the nature of these sorts of regimes leads to no good solutions.

    China supports North Korea partly because they fear the consequences of what the end of that regime will look like.

    Comment by NeilM — February 25, 2015 @ 9:36 am

  41. If Labour support military action against ISIS but don’t want to put NZ troops at risk what sort of military action would they support?

    If they support others doing the fighting what sort of moral position is it to then say but we won’t take part.

    Comment by NeilM — February 25, 2015 @ 10:23 am

  42. To paraphrase the insightful Gary Johnston:

    John Key is a dick! A reckless, arrogant, stupid dick. And Labour are pussies. And ISIL are assholes. Pussies don’t like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes: assholes that just want to shit on everything. Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is a dick, with some balls. The problem with dicks is: they fuck too much or fuck when it isn’t appropriate – and it takes a pussy to show them that. But sometimes, pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves… because pussies are an inch and half away from ass holes. I don’t know much about this crazy, crazy world, but I do know this: If you don’t let us fuck these assholes, we’re going to have our dicks and pussies all covered in shit!

    Comment by King Kong — February 25, 2015 @ 10:44 am

  43. And your point was?

    My point is that your assertion is ridiculous precisely because it ignores that entire chain of events and the geopolitical context of the time – Note that you are also factually incorrect in suggesting the USSR did not play a role in defeating Japan, and also fail to mention that the separation of Korea was constructed with the stoke of a pen by people who knew precisely nothing about the area’s history, rather than by asking the Korean people what they wanted (which certainly draws obvious parallels with Iraq).

    I also think it’s myopic to describe enforced multi-decade military occupation, internal repression, the arbitrary splitting of formerly homogenous populations and territories as “overwhelmingly positive” for those who were subjected to it and ignores the price that tens of millions of people have paid in the process.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 25, 2015 @ 11:18 am

  44. Key is asserting that Kiwi travellers are already targets for ISIS, maybe true, but he has now painted a fucking huge target on our backs I if we are abroad.

    If St Luke’s cops a bomb can you begin to imagine the repercussions at home? More surveillance, less of the freedom we have fought other wars to enjoy.

    Comment by Neil Miller — February 25, 2015 @ 12:01 pm

  45. So under your logic if you see a women getting raped you would do nothing and say nothing I case the rapist might hurt you in some way
    I am so glad I am not a leftie cowards the lot of you

    Comment by Graham — February 25, 2015 @ 12:29 pm

  46. You could look at it that way Graham, or you could be a fool for falls for any old horseshit propaganda because ISIS IS JUST LIKE HITLER!!!!

    I take it from your comment though that you’ll know spend your evening stalking the streets of your hometown looking for rapists to clobber? After all, if you don’t you’re a rightie coward really, aren’t you.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 25, 2015 @ 1:46 pm

  47. No, Gregor, because he’ll be too busy over in Iraq training their army, because only a COWARD would sit at home typing on comments threads when there are BAD THINGS HAPPENING OVERSEAS!!!!

    Comment by nommopilot — February 25, 2015 @ 1:48 pm

  48. NeilM wrote: At present though defeating ISIS is a prerequisite to a stable govt. There are of course other prerequisites such as inclusiveness but ISIS aren’t just a product of Iraqi inter-sectarian conflict

    It’s true that Isis aren’t solely a product of Iraqi inter-sectarian conflict – they’re also a product of the US occupation force’s brutalisation of Iraqis, and a product of fundamentalist education funded by Saudi Arabia, but their current success would not be possible without the marginalisation of Sunnis by the governments in Iraq and Syria. Putting pressure on the Iraqi government to be more inclusive towards their sunni citizens would be more effective than training their army to be better at fighting whoever they want to fight.

    Comment by Can of Worms, Opened — February 25, 2015 @ 3:05 pm

  49. I am very, VERY brave, because I’m volunteering Graham to lead a public campaign calling on Fonterra to stop supplying milk to regimes such as Saudi Arabia and China, due to their terrible human rights records. That is what true guts looks like. You may call me the Kiwi Chris Kyle.

    Comment by Flashing Light — February 25, 2015 @ 4:01 pm

  50. Ah, so” geopolitical context” is newspeak for “leave them to the mercies of Stalin or the Emperor”, its far too complicated for anyone to take any action whatsoever. Koreans have suffered terribly, as they did under the Japanese and those in the North continue to do under the current family regime. Many in the South continue to suffer from separation from family – though they and their Government and their Government’s allies have nothing to do with this. Still, for those in the South the post War experience has indeed been overwhelmingly positive.

    Comment by Tinakori — February 25, 2015 @ 4:35 pm

  51. the thing is graham, attempting to stop a rape in progress has a reasonable chance of success, even your mere loud and vocal presence could pay off for the victim – can you tell us exactly how many western military actions in the middle east have fixed things?

    thats not even a “nice try” from you – its just dumb

    Comment by framu — February 25, 2015 @ 4:43 pm

  52. Of course a Labour government would only be in government with the backing of the Greens. I am surprised you have so little regard for their powers of persuasion…

    Comment by ross — February 25, 2015 @ 4:59 pm

  53. The more I hear the “Labour would have done the same thing” put forward as a defense of this act of war John Key is embarking on the more flimsy the right’s justifications sound. Surely they could come up with something better than presenting a case that is just an assumption based on a counter-factual? Surely if you want to know what Labour would do, you’d ask them, not rely John Key’s ignorant speculation on the topic? Secondly, it seems a bit silly to say Labour would have done the same thing, but they are cowards for not doing the same thing, just in case they actually, if in power, didn’t. As an argument for for building a case to have a cake stall on the rainy these two contradictory positions are illogical and intellectually slight; As the sole justification for getting us involved in a war it is a particularly grim joke.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 25, 2015 @ 7:47 pm

  54. People have asked Labour but haven’t come up with anything coherent. Bombing yes, military intervention yes but what sort and by whom is left a little vague.

    Having had quite sometime to develop policy on this it’s not really good enough to be making it up as they go along now,

    It’s been interesting to see the differences in attitudes towards Obama with Labour and the Greens.

    The Greens have gone down the Ron Paul line of Obama being a war monger whereas Labour don’t even acknowledge his existence.

    But there doesn’t seem to be any Obama supporters out there anymore. Which suggests all the Hillary Clinton is an evil witch rhetoric might have been in vain.

    Comment by NeilM — February 25, 2015 @ 9:18 pm

  55. To some extent, the issue cuts across the political divide – with substantial minorities of Nat/Lab/Green/NZF supporters dissenting (in one form or another) from their own Party’s official stand.

    Colmar Brunton breakdowns here….http://sub-z-p.blogspot.co.nz/

    Comment by swordfish — February 25, 2015 @ 9:19 pm

  56. NeilUm, Nat-lite and soi disant ‘once-was-leftie’ has it on authority that ” People have asked Labour but haven’t come up with anything coherent. Bombing yes, military intervention yes but what sort and by whom is left a little vague.” No doubt Espiner’s failure to nail down Goff this morning fuelled that view; after all, if all the Chicken-mans can do it, why won’t Labour & the Greens?

    It’s not like we’ve had a proper debate or anything, but geez, ‘having had quite sometime to develop policy on this it’s not really good enough to be making it up as they go along now’ That’s getting too close to the style of National’s policy programme, without the faux passion. Mind you, Obama’s still driving his 2014 model, but he’s allowed to, as Prez of The Club.

    Meantime the main obstacle in Daesh’s drive to enslave and to massacre so far seem largely to have been the Kurdish peshmerger, and Hezbollah along with Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Wouldn’t it be nice if we put our shoulder to some of these more useful wheels,if we must an all, as members of,you know, the Club.
    Still, Iraq is acknowledged as having been hopelessly ineffectual so there sure will be training opportunities a-plenty to keep all sixteen kiwis busy right until Armageddon arrives. No doubt the Caliphate will be excited by the prospect of a Western-supported ground war to further validate the Caliphate and strengthen their recruitment drive.

    Comment by paritutu — February 25, 2015 @ 10:35 pm

  57. I think it’s probably right to point out that Graeme Wood’s article in the Atlantic was highly controversial and attracted a lot of criticism. More importantly, it also attracted a more nuanced elaboration from Bernard Haykel at ThinkProgress, which can be found here: http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/02/20/3625446/atlantic-left-isis-conversation-bernard-haykel/

    Personally I was not greatly impressed by Wood’s piece, which I think rather simplifies the logic of IS and overplays the apocalyptic/eschatological angle considerably. (I was also rather riled by his persistent use of the word ‘medieval’ to describe IS, as though religious fanaticism is a phenomenon that somehow belongs in the remote past rather than in the modern world). Some things he definitely got right, though, including the importance of the early Muslim traditions in the way IS perceives itself and its historic mission. I think this article from Hassan Hassan in the Guardian actually explains rather better and in less exaggerated terms what the relationship between Muslim tradition, jurisprudence, and violence is for IS: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/08/isis-islamic-state-ideology-sharia-syria-iraq-jordan-pilot

    Finally, I think Wood actually hints at an important fact in the way that the extremism and indiscriminate violence of IS actually undermines its own ability to govern. The differences between IS and al-Qaida are not really very ideological, as Wood claims, but focus much more on methods. Al-Qaida has learned that guerrilla tactics are more successful than conventional warfare, de facto states last longer than loudly-proclaimed caliphates, and if you want to retain control of territory you need to resist the urge to butcher and oppress all the people who live there. IS haven’t yet learned this lesson, which seems to be the main reason why their caliphate is falling apart so rapidly and AQAP is still able to launch startling, headline-grabbing attacks in Paris. Last July Owen Bennett-Jones already predicted that the ascendency of the Islamic State might not last long, and laid out the reasons: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n14/owen-bennett-jones/how-should-we-think-about-the-caliphate He also warned about the likely consequences of further Western intervention in the Middle East. Patrick Cockburn, who also writes for the LRB and the Independent, is much less sunny in his outlook, but he raises another important point: that bombing IS strongholds in Iraq is largely pointless unless something is first done about the situation in Syria. But bombing Iraq and training Iraqi troops (who are unlikely to be greeted a liberators in Sunni parts of the country) is a much simpler and more appealing task than trying to sort out the bloody Syrian quagmire from which IS sprang in the first place.

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — February 26, 2015 @ 12:58 am

  58. @swordfish – I find the Colmar Brunton question (“Do you support or oppose sending New Zealand troops to the Middle East, to help train security forces to fight ISIS”?) extraordinarily loaded in favour of an answer of “support”. If you asked “Do you support or oppose sending New Zealand troops to the Middle East, to help local militias fight ISIS”? (which is a much more honest assessment of what will happen) I think you’d find a majority opposed.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 26, 2015 @ 8:16 am

  59. i find the lack of intelligent internal debate about sending our “trainers” very depressing – key is out of his depth – we (New Zealanders’ and our soldiers at the sharp end -how many from the private schools?) are paying heavily for a game of golf and max’s high five with obama – local `pundits’ call for us to send our troops – bloated chicken hawks who `passionately’ wank on about over-priced boutique beer – what happened to the country that used to think for itself about the wider world and our role in it ? – instead of signing up to the CLUB why not – say no to war – no fighting – let’s take a risk – sit down and spend a few weeks thinking about what might make a REAL long term difference to the people of that broken region – does anyone really think training people to fight better is going to work?

    Comment by mag rod aigh — February 26, 2015 @ 10:37 am

  60. We only got to comment 9 before a Godwin. I think this is how the next few weeks are going to be. The blog-fog of war.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 26, 2015 @ 12:48 pm

  61. Not sure that Tinakori godwinned there, Ben.

    However, when he does stay stuff in comment #50 like “Many in the South continue to suffer from separation from family – though they and their Government and their Government’s allies have nothing to do with this” this does betray a world view that seems bereft of historic understanding.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 26, 2015 @ 1:18 pm

  62. >Not sure that Tinakori godwinned there, Ben

    Yeah, hard to be sure – it’s a veiled equivocation of IS with the Nazis, and its “overwhelming positive” is predicated on comparing subsequent Germany to the lowest point it has ever sunk, either economically, militarily, or morally. Yes, things only got better for Germany after it was completely smashed to get rid of one of the most evil regimes in human history. Is this a Godwin? I think so.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 26, 2015 @ 2:16 pm

  63. Possibly worth remembering that the destruction of Germany and Japan was not done to save the poor citizens from their evil establishment either. It was justifiable vengeance for barbaric unprovoked assaults on practically every neighbor they had. These countries were genuine threats to the safety of nearly every country in the world. Looking after the poor smashed Germans was hardly the first thing on the mind of the advancing Russian and American armies. It was a race to carve the fuckers up and scare each other with ever more grotesque displays of their own barbarity.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 26, 2015 @ 2:21 pm

  64. @Higgs Boatswain, I agree with the criticisms of the Atlantic article. For example, how Wood suggests ISIS is an inevitable product of Islam and ignores the fact that all fundamental interpretations of religion are just that: interpretations. And I agree that Wood’s explanation of how ISIS views itself and Islam is revealing.

    What I find most interesting is the similarity between ISIS’s apocalyptic interpretation of Islam and Christian fundamentalists’ interpretations of their religion.

    I grew up in the Christian fundamentalist tradition and was taught surprisingly similar beliefs to those of ISIS. I was taught the USSR was Gog and Magog; there would be an end of the world battle in the Middle East involving Israel and Gog and Magog; people who called themselves Christians but did not believe what we believed were not true Christians; and that true Christians would try and help the apocalypse along. This sort of end-times craziness was widespread among Christians and probably still is.

    For example, according to this report, Bush tried to convince Chirac to invade Iraq in order to stop Gog and Magog. This rings true to me as it is exactly the set of beliefs that I was familiar with as a fundamentalist Christian:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2009/aug/10/religion-george-bush

    Comment by Tobias — February 26, 2015 @ 2:48 pm

  65. …this does betray a world view that seems bereft of historic understanding.

    It shows a pretty good understanding of the last 30 years of Korean history.

    Comment by unaha-closp — February 26, 2015 @ 2:59 pm

  66. Maybe this whole thing is just Obama preparing an epic hospital pass for Jeb Bush…revenge.

    I also heard that Bush has selected Paul Wolfowitz as one of his foreign policy advisors, so that’s good news.

    Another thing I wonder about is how much longer China can sit on the sidelines of global power politics before finally getting its hands dirty in the Middle East. The US will surely exhaust its resources eventually, but for now it still thinks its the big man on campus. I’m fairly sure that will change in the next 10 years, or less.

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — February 26, 2015 @ 4:13 pm

  67. It shows a pretty good understanding of the last 30 years of Korean history.

    Yeah, post-cold war history. Which isn’t really that useful IMO when talking about how awesome the results of WW2 were. But that’s just me.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 26, 2015 @ 4:42 pm

  68. @Seb – I’m not sure that it’s all that accurate to say China do merely “sit on the sidelines”.

    They have been heavily involved in a charm offensive in Africa and the Pacific and other non-aligned nations worldwide in an attempt to throw the US ‘Asia pivot’ off balance.

    They’ve also made significant co-op inroads with Russia, India and Iran under the auspices of the ‘New Silk Road’ stratagem.

    It’s fair to say that the Chinese take a long view. They were running the world for a long time before European ascendance.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 26, 2015 @ 4:54 pm

  69. It’s fair to say that the Chinese take a long view. They were running the world for a long time before European ascendance.

    Eh… not so much?
    With the exception of the occasional foray into exploration, Chinese history is pretty heavily dominated by periods of isolationism and inward-looking trade. Were they the biggest nation/economy for large swathes of history, yes. But ‘running the world’ is quite a stretch.

    Comment by Phil — February 26, 2015 @ 5:26 pm

  70. Phil – Well, if you consider the Chinese dominated world trade for over 1000 years, took tribute from as far away as the east coast of Africa and as you say, we’re the worlds economic powerhouse for big stretches of recorded history, I reckon that comes pretty close.

    But I accept that I may be gilding the lily.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 26, 2015 @ 5:45 pm

  71. >Maybe this whole thing is just Obama preparing an epic hospital pass for Jeb Bush…revenge.

    Well it’s also a hospital pass for the next Democrat, if they get re-elected, which is possible. So nah, I don’t think that’s it. I’d say he wants to do the right thing, but has never really had a clue what that is. So he’s talking up a war, hoping someone else will go first, and then it won’t be his fault. Ideally, it will be someone popular but also on their way out … someone with nothing to lose, who wants to make their little skid mark too. Oh, look!!!

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 26, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

  72. A lot of people willing to forget the Marshall plan in here. Post WWII USA wanted to turn germany into a pastoral economy so they could never rise again. Only once that failed (after about 5 years of misery in Germany), did the US plan change to allow what we see today.

    Comment by chris — February 26, 2015 @ 11:54 pm

  73. Ah shit, I mean’t the Morgenthau Plan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgenthau_Plan#JCS_1067

    Comment by chris — February 26, 2015 @ 11:57 pm

  74. @ Gregor W: Fair point. It’s weird though, I never hear about any of the stuff China is doing. I wonder if the US media cover it more. China is good at scurrying around in the background, while the US takes the spotlight. I recall a few months ago that China surpassed the US as the world’s largest economy, and I don’t recall much being said about it, but that’s a huge shift. The Soviet Union never got close to achieving that.

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — February 27, 2015 @ 7:35 am

  75. One of the main arguments against intervention has been the level of corruption and ethnic violence from he Iraqi govt and associated militias.

    But that is exactly the set of problems that Obama and the new Iraqi prime minister hope to overcome.

    One could argue that it has little chance of success but to argue that the problem to be solved is a reason not try and solve the problem doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    Comment by NeilM — February 27, 2015 @ 7:53 am

  76. People here are missing so obvious aspects of the Allied occupation of Germany post-WWII.

    1. Most German POWs were not released until 2-4 years after the end of the war. The Iraqi army was disbanded and left to roam the streets.

    2. Nazi Germany was in a legal state of war with the allies, and upon it’s unconditional surrender all it’s armed forces were also ordered to surrender. Iraq had no formal declaration of war or formal declaration of cessation of hostilities, aircraft carrier flight decks not withstanding.

    3. The size and duration of the Allied occupation was much greater than in Iraq both in numbers, duration and clear determination to never allow Nazism to recover.

    4. De-Nazification, however haphazardly applied, was applied and actually had a huge impact. By the time the more ardent Nazis were able to re-enter the professional workforce all the key jobs were taken by other who were at least able to whitewash their involvement in the Nazi regime. No such program was even tried in Iraq.

    5. Germany was a modern, industrialised, well governed country with a well-developed civil society that was ruled for twelve years by a bunch of murderous gangsters. Corruption was low, civil servants were conscientious and hard working, citizens paid their taxes and informed on their neighbours, and by 1945 all potential sources of sectarian violence had either been murdered or as a result of boundary changes lived in other countries. Iraq was/is a corrupt third world tribal state with no civil society that had been run for decades by a gang of sectarian thugs along tribal and religious alignments.

    6. Nazism was a radical political experiment. It’s clear and decisive defeat extinguished it’s claim to legitimacy in it’s own terms. Iraq’s government was no such radical experiment, being no more than a garden third world dictatorship. Crushing Hitler ended Nazism. Crushing Saddam merely crushed Saddam.

    All in all, the differences between the occupation of Iraq and the Germany in 1945 are so different as to make nonsensical even bothering to try and draw some sort of comparison.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 27, 2015 @ 7:56 am

  77. @NeilM: I may be projecting but I’m guessing Danyl’s argument would go: While violence in the Third World can occur without western intervention, western intervention, no matter how well intentioned, simply creates more violence, so the best approach is to simply hold off and watch Third World violence decline to a relatively mild level.

    @Chris: The Morgenthau plan was proposed and discussed but never attempted. The wikipedia page you linked states that “Roosevelt… after reading it, rejected it”. The ‘Morgenthau boys’ tried to implement it within existing US policy but Morgenthau’s plan was never official US policy, and the Morgenthau boys were a very small group whose influence on overall policy to the German economy was limited.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 27, 2015 @ 7:58 am

  78. @Sanc: No such program was ever tried in Iraq?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De-Ba%27athification

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 27, 2015 @ 7:59 am

  79. @sebb – I suspect the US MSM is not that good at reporting on China either for obvious reasons.

    It’s all out there though if you want to read more. A few good places to start; Janes 360, Foreign Affairs, The Diplomat, The Economist.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 27, 2015 @ 8:48 am

  80. @kalvarnsen

    I think “Western” is problematic as a category, I’d be more inclined tho use “external”. Which would include UN intervention in various places, Iranian and Russian intervention in Syria. Intervention has worked in some conflicts and non-intervention has lead to worse outcomes in others.

    But it is one approach to let things unfold without intervention. I’m not sure that that is necessarily a stand without moral difficulties or one that leads to less suffering.

    Aid and reconstruction are still interventions and no doubt aid and reconstruction in Iraq will be seen by ISIS as a hostile act. Also, if the Iraq govt is irretrievably corrupt and sectarian then there would be no guarantee that that assistance will go to those in need and not to favoured communities. It will also require protection by military forces which I think those providing this should bear some responsibility for.

    Comment by NeilM — February 27, 2015 @ 10:32 am

  81. Yeah, post-cold war history.

    Tinakori is explicitly referring to the positive influence of long term American occupation in South Korea. A period consisting entirely of the Cold War and post-Cold War.

    Which isn’t really that useful IMO when talking about how awesome the results of WW2 were. But that’s just me.

    Yep, it is just you.

    The South Koreans have moved on, the Americans have moved on with their governments changing (in America’s case entirely democratically and S. Korea’s also for 30 years). The governments of S. Korea and the USA aren’t to blame for the splits within Korean families, because they do not constitute the same governments that existed 60 years earlier.

    History moves on, governments fall, new policies adapting. Ask any New Zealand leftist to accept blame for the 4th Labour government and they’ll quite rightly say it wasn’t them, because change has occurred.

    Only in dynastic or communist countries do they reflect events of the distant past, because those events form the basis of their rule over the present. N. Korea is entirely to blame for the continued split of Korean families, because of the last 60 years of history.

    Comment by unaha-closp — February 27, 2015 @ 10:39 am

  82. There’s the argument that we should be doing something else instead. (Although why it should be “instead” and not “as well” i’m not sure).

    We could increase our aid to $66m. But billions have gone into Iraq, what good would such a small amount do?

    We could increase the number of refugees by a few hundred. But there are hundreds of thousands of refugees.

    I could go on but it’s obviously a very annoying line of argument. That our military contribution to Iraq is small doesn’t mean it deserve that argument in response either.

    And then what about Boko Haram? Why aren’t we giving more aid to help their victims, why aren’t we taking in more African refugees. Again, its a very annoying argument.

    Comment by NeilM — February 27, 2015 @ 11:00 am

  83. Only in dynastic or communist countries do they reflect events of the distant past, because those events form the basis of their rule over the present.

    Balls. American exceptionalism?

    N. Korea is entirely to blame for the continued split of Korean families, because of the last 60 years of history.

    Also balls. The serious groundwork for re-unification didn’t even start till around 2000. The US has consistently attempted to interpose their own geo-political interests into the process which the North Korean’s have rejected. Ref. the “Axis of Evil” mentality.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 27, 2015 @ 12:06 pm

  84. Balls. American exceptionalism?

    Anything but, almost every country in the world operates in such a way that its current government partially refutes the past governments. It is only a few nutty regimes that remain mired there, these are the exceptionists, America is practically normal.

    The US has consistently attempted to interpose their own geo-political interests into the process which the North Korean’s have rejected.

    To have the North Korean regime reform itself is in everybody’s interest – except that of the North Korean regime.

    Comment by unaha-closp — February 27, 2015 @ 3:24 pm

  85. A Korean reunification would be a whole lot trickier than the German reunification. Graham Reid has already done the explaining, and I suspect not much has changed in the 10+ years since that was written.

    BERLIN AND THE BICKERING KOREAS (2004): A Tale of Two Walls

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — February 27, 2015 @ 4:04 pm

  86. It is only a few nutty regimes that remain mired there, these are the exceptionists, America is practically normal

    Weasel words and empirically unproveable. What is normal? Assassinating people with impunity, meddling in independent nations affairs and making up terrorist boogeymen?

    The whole point of my original comment to Tinakori is that as outsiders, making statements that the arbitrary partition of a country and the mass murder of its citizens is a well managed big pile of awesome is stupid, particularly when one half of that country is still pretty fucked up and until the 70s, so was the South – economically at least – but realistically until the 80s if you consider human rights and representative democracy as a measure of a well ordered country.

    It also ignores a whole chain of events and is absurdly reductive to paint the frozen conflict as one sided affair, because it simply isn’t true. It’s just as much a product of our propaganda machinery and the ‘imperialist running dog’ type stuff being generated by the DKRP to shove down the throats of its own citizens.

    To have the North Korean regime reform itself is in everybody’s interest – except that of the North Korean regime.

    This is particularly dumb. Exactly the same logic could be applied to the United States or Israel for example. Remind me again how many countries North Korea has invaded in the last 50 years? How many democratically elected governments North Korea has overthrown?

    Comment by Gregor W — February 27, 2015 @ 4:19 pm

  87. *DPRK sorry

    Comment by Gregor W — February 27, 2015 @ 4:22 pm

  88. It also ignores a whole chain of events and is absurdly reductive to paint the frozen conflict as one sided affair, because it simply isn’t true. It’s just as much a product of our propaganda machinery and the ‘imperialist running dog’ type stuff being generated by the DKRP to shove down the throats of its own citizens.

    One side has embraced progress and the other side hasn’t. They started from the same baseline – one has achieved great things and the other is pathetic.

    This is particularly dumb. Exactly the same logic could be applied to the United States or Israel for example. Remind me again how many countries North Korea has invaded in the last 50 years? How many democratically elected governments North Korea has overthrown?

    The USA and Israel are stupid comparisons, the USA is a superpower and Israel is an advanced state surrounded by weaker states.

    We can most easily compare the N. Koreans to the S. Koreans. Same people, same circumstances, same size, same location. One of them eliminated autocratic rule and flourished.

    What is normal? Assassinating people with impunity, meddling in independent nations affairs and making up terrorist boogeymen?

    Yes, for all of history. Though impunity isn’t the right word – more assassinating and meddling with risk attached.

    Comment by unaha-closp — February 27, 2015 @ 5:18 pm

  89. One thing we can say without too much controversy is that the state of the Korean Peninsula is to a large degree a result of the Cold War.

    Why did the U.S. support SK – not because there was a SKean lobby but because the North was supported by China.

    It’s one of those forgotten elements of history.

    Why does the U.S. support Isreal? Not because of the Jewish Lobby, although there is one, but because Russia supported the Arab states in the 1973 war.

    And it continues to play out to an extent with Russian under Putin supporting repressive regimes because he believes that’s in Russia’s strategic interest whereas thankfully the U.S. has moved on to a large measure.

    No longer propping up dictators as a defence against Russia and, ironically, to prevent social chaos. Remember Kissinger and co. arguing dictators were the price to be paid for stability? Sounds familiar.

    Comment by NeilM — February 27, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

  90. “Why does the U.S. support Isreal? Not because of the Jewish Lobby, although there is one, but because Russia supported the Arab states in the 1973 war.”

    US support for Israel was well established long before 1973.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 27, 2015 @ 7:55 pm

  91. Unaha closp – if you think Korea started from the same baseline as a result of the Korean War, then you need to educate yourself. Until the early 70s, NK had a higher standard of living than SK and it had i fact started from a lower baseline post war.

    And yes, SK has flourished since the 80s without doubt. But this transformation has largely Self generated, not a direct result of US support. In fact when SK was a client state of the US, it was one of the poorest and most repressive nations on Earth.

    So to come full circle, the idea that US influence has been “overwhelmingly positive” for SK is horseshit. The facts just don’t support this premise. The best that can be said is that the balance created by the Cold War created the security conditions that eventually allowed SK to prosper. Conversely, this same balance with protected NK did not allow their nation to develop beyond a point because of the native restrictions imposed by their political system.

    Also, take a look at late 19th early 20th century US history. Exceptionalism and invasion was their M.O. well before they became a superpower. It’s in their cultural DNA.

    And unless you are suggesting that might=right from a philosophical position, then my point still holds. The question you posed was about “everbody’s interest” in reforming odious and violent regimes, not about whether these nations were powerful.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 27, 2015 @ 8:39 pm

  92. Unaha-Closp wrote: To have the North Korean regime reform itself is in everybody’s interest – except that of the North Korean regime.

    I wouldn’t be so sure about that. I’ve long suspected the reason the North Korean regime manages to stay in place is because the South Korean government secretly wants it to. Put simply – they don’t want to have to deal with millions of refugees fleeing across the border, they don’t want to absorb North Korea into their country like West Germany did with East Germany, and have to fix the problems in that absurdly backward and impoverished land (it would be a much bigger challenge for South Korea than East germany was for West Germany, because it’s poorer and more backward than East Germany was, and its got half as many people as South Korea, whereas east Germany had only 1/3 as many people as West Germany. But on the other hand, the South Korean government wouldn’t want to openly refuse to help North Koreans, and be accountable to its own people for doing so. To get around this paradox, they need someone else to stop North Koreans fleeing to South Korea, and to stop reunification being a possibility; and that someone else is the North Korean government.

    Comment by Can of Worms, Opened — February 27, 2015 @ 9:20 pm

  93. An extension to your point, Can ‘o worms, is that the US doesn’t want reunification either.
    It suits their wider strategic purpose to have a failed state on China’s border which both a) soaks up resources for Beijing to prop up b) sabre rattles occasionally to scare the shit out of the US’s regional allies, particularly Japan.

    Having East Asia in a constant state of tension is one of the consents hones of the US containment policy towards China.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 27, 2015 @ 10:08 pm

  94. Consent hones = corner stones. Wtf autocheck?!

    Comment by Gregor W — February 27, 2015 @ 10:10 pm

  95. US support for Israel was well established long before 1973.

    It wasn’t. Prior to 1973 it was Frnce that was Isreal’s main backer. But due to France’s internal politics it dropped Israel in favour of Arab countries.

    In 1973 the US internvened in favour of Israel against the Russian backed Arab countries.

    Look it up.

    Comment by NeilM — February 27, 2015 @ 11:38 pm

  96. Probably worth checking out Chirac’s relationship with Saddam.

    Doesn’t quite fit with the Israel US Imperialism the Left spouts.

    Comment by NeilM — February 27, 2015 @ 11:46 pm

  97. Chirac pissed off much of his fellow Westerners by resuming nuclear testing at Mururoa. And supposedly he opposed the 2003 Iraq invasion not out of peace & love, but out of French commercial interests over there.

    Funnily enough the reverse was true during the 1956 Suez Crisis – Britain, France and Israel bombed Egypt, but America opposed.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — February 28, 2015 @ 3:30 am

  98. I’m aware of France’s support, but that doesn’t mean American support didn’t also exist. American financial aid to Israel dates back to the Eisenhower administration.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 28, 2015 @ 4:52 am

  99. There was some US support but it was France’s withdrawl of military support for Isreal after 1967 which lead to the U.S. stepping during 1973 to back Israel against the Russian backed Arab states.

    It’s a special relationship that’s a product of Cold War rivelries.

    Similarly with Egypt, the U.S. does not give aid to the Egyprisn military because of an “Egyptian Lobby”.

    As for France, Chirac considered Saddam a personal friend and he and Putin were instrumental in giving Saddam false hope enough to cling to power in the face of overwhelming evidence he and his country would be better quietly going into exile.

    Much like Putin is doing with Assad now.

    Comment by NeilM — March 1, 2015 @ 10:26 am

  100. The most likely outcome will be a new Kurdish state that will include parts of Syria and Iraq. At least, this is what the Kurds who are rolling back ISIS daily appear to be fighting for. Unlike the iraqis who just don’t want to die now, having survived Saddam, Bush I and Bush II. We can train them all we want but they will continue – most likely – to get out of Dodge at the first sign of trouble. Quite sensible, really.

    Comment by Steve — March 1, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

  101. Steve: in other words, the Yugoslavia/Kosovo option. Much of the whole fuck-uped-ness goes all the way back to the Sykes-Picot boundaries.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — March 1, 2015 @ 8:14 pm

  102. It predates Sykes-Picot. The Ottoman Empire was hardly any more of a natural set of boundaries and the Sunni Shiite split happened a long time before that.

    If the argument is western imperialism didn’t help then neither would the other forms of imperialism that would have happened instead.

    The PLO was after all formed in 1964. Liberating Palestine at the time was just as much about liberating the West Bank and Gazza as it is now – neither of which were then occupied by Israel.

    There’s been imperialism from Iran from Turkey, there’s a long history of tribal violence as there has been with Europe.

    I suppose from that it’s not that constructive to say – I wouldn’t start from here.

    Comment by NeilM — March 1, 2015 @ 10:19 pm

  103. It predates Sykes-Picot. The Ottoman Empire was hardly any more of a natural set of boundaries and the Sunni Shiite split happened a long time before that.

    The difference was that at least the Ottoman Empire was nominally cosmopolitan in its outlook and the rights of its citizens irrespective of faith were protected.
    Sykes-Picot took none of this historical reality into account.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 2, 2015 @ 12:07 pm

  104. So to come full circle, the idea that US influence has been “overwhelmingly positive” for SK is horseshit. The facts just don’t support this premise. The best that can be said is that the balance created by the Cold War created the security conditions that eventually allowed SK to prosper. Conversely, this same balance with protected NK did not allow their nation to develop beyond a point because of the native restrictions imposed by their political system.

    What does “native restrictions” mean? Did these magically occur in the North and not in the South?

    It can’t mean “native” to Korea, because Koreans in the South are obviously not subject to this restriction.

    It must mean “native” to the political system, which was the political system that the USA opposed directly during the Cold War and specifically prevented from occurring in South Korea by fighting a war.

    Therefore the effects of US influence were overwhelmingly positive, because it freed S Korea from that restrictive political system.

    I wouldn’t be so sure about that. I’ve long suspected the reason the North Korean regime manages to stay in place is because the South Korean government secretly wants it to.

    I wanted NZ to beat Aussie at the weekend and it happened, but the degree to which I could influence the outcome was non-existent.

    Comment by unaha-closp — March 2, 2015 @ 12:21 pm

  105. It must mean “native” to the political system, which was the political system that the USA opposed directly during the Cold War and specifically prevented from occurring in South Korea by fighting a war.

    “Native” refers to NK’s political system which is pretty much unique.

    Worth noting however that the Korean war did not free SK from this political system because Juche didn’t exist until the 70s – before that NK was pretty much a run-of-the-mill Communist outpost with a comparative GDP etc. to SK up until the 70s as noted above.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 2, 2015 @ 1:02 pm

  106. “I’m not as outraged at Key and National as most people on the left, because I think that if Labour were in government our commitment to the latest US/UK adventure in Iraq would be pretty much identical.”

    Absolutely!

    https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/no-to-all-western-military-intervention-in-the-middle-east/

    Comment by Admin — March 2, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

  107. One thing that has occurred to me – the meta-event in the Middle East is over-population. While overpopulation may not be a direct link to ISIS, its effects are, and we are getting a warning of what might happen everywhere if we don’t get a handle on human population size. From about 60 million at the turn of the 20th century the population of the Middle East is now heading quickly towards 400 million people. Pakistan, also a trouble spot, has had a 500% population increase since partition (from 40 to 200 million) Egypt has a population of 85 million and is looking to pass 100 million people within a decade or so. Outside of unevenly distributed oil (and Iran and Turkey, still relatively stable), these countries have limited natural resources of water or fertile soil. For example Egypt, a poor third world country, nowadays needs to impport half it’s grain supply and is now the worlds biggest importer of grain, with cereals making up about three quarters of the average Egyptian calorie intake. Given Egypts political instability, security of food supply is a rising problem in that country.

    A degraded environment, religious exhortations for high fertility and massive corruption means many Arab countries are dempgraphic disasters, full of huge surplus populations of angry and hopeless young people.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 2, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

  108. Syngman Rhee and General Park were autocratic political strong men, who were conferred no heroic status by their American backers or the political system they represented. The first was an appointed tool, the second a military hard man.

    Kim Il-sung was the founding father of the glorious revolution, bringing scientific communism to the people of Korea. A great and heroic revolutionary, born leader of the people. Worthy of the hero worship of Mao or Lenin, who’s tombs are destination of pilgrimage to this day.

    One of these political systems formed itself into a cult of personality.

    Comment by unaha-closp — March 2, 2015 @ 5:20 pm

  109. I agree, but it’s irrelevant to Tinakori’s premise that US intervention has been “overwhelmingly positive” for Korea. It just means that one set of total bastards were marginally less shit than the other, though I’m sure the distinction was irrelevant to those subjected to their tender mercies.

    Anyway, we’ve chewed up enough of this thread on semantics I think so let’s agree to disagree.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 2, 2015 @ 6:23 pm

  110. I think Netanyahu is doing a fine job proving Obama’s judgement on the Middle East deserves being paid attention to at least.

    It’s not news that there all these dilemmas regarding Iran and militias and it’s more than likely Obama has given considerable thougt to his to work through this.

    Comment by NeilM — March 4, 2015 @ 8:25 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: