The news about Iran’s new seizure of Iraqi oil wells was discouraging; another sign of the deterioration of Iran, the seeming helplessness of Iraq in the face of such mockery. Because that’s what it was: mockery of Iraq, of the US forces there — not to mention mockery of the idea of sovereignty, etc.
How much more bad news can anyone read? But then…
… I ran across a brilliant plan, written by an obviously smart blogger who has looked at this particular briar patch and instead of throwing up his hands in disgust, created an excellent strategy for change.
What he has to propose is better than anything the professionals could ever devise, at least based on the behaviors of the latter in the face of provocation. Which is one reason why they’ll never implement anything so simple, robust and direct. Our “statesmen” don’t do simple or direct; they’d be out of a job.
He prefaces his solution with a partial explanation of the problem:
Nations always have disputes between them… but territorial integrity is the first and most basic component of sovereignty: If a country cannot hang onto its own territory, it may as well hang it up; it’s not really a nation.
Iraq has been entirely too complacent for entirely too long about so-called “disputed” territory; worse, this lackadaisical attitude, in the Age of Barack H. Obama, has even infected the American military forces in Iraq. This is unacceptable; it’s primitivism. And rather than enable it, we should help the Iraqis stamp it out and shift to a modernist conception of sovereign territory.
“Primitivism”, he says…
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In other words, we — the world at large — is regressing to an earlier, uglier idea about what territorial rights a sovereign state has. You could argue that under Bush the US reverted to that with the invasion of Iraq. However, there were many attempts to seek another solution before the first boot hit the ground in Iraq in 2003, so making this facile comparison would be a categorical error. For the moment, let’s not go there.
This action list is creative. Not only that, it calls on our President to deal from a position he knows how to play due to earning his political chops in the badlands of Mayor Daley’s Chicago wards.
Before you read his plan, please note the way in which he has set up the one absolutely essential step required when you have decided to force change in a belligerent situation. That is, you warn your opponent that your rules for the game have, from this time forward, changed. The signal is crucial to any strategy for change in a situation pervaded by chronic hostility.
This move works in intimate relationships, too. Say you have suffered from some annoying habit of those you live with. Maybe they leave the @ &*^%#*& cap off the toothpaste despite your frequent protestations, remonstrations, fits of anger, pleading, etc. Nothing has worked; the cap remains off the toothpaste because no one besides you cares enough to put it back. If you decide to change the rules (no more talk, just direct action) in this game, you need to let your adversaries know that the old behaviors will not be tolerated anymore and then you can proceed with all justice and deliberate speed toward your goal of a capped toothpaste tube.
Thus, here are the steps we need to take to change this annoying habit of the Iranians regarding Iraq’s oil wells:
1. For right now, send a combined U.S. and Iraqi force into the area; the Iranians will amble on out, smirking. We linger at the border for a few weeks, then withdraw. (This step is necessary to feign weakness and set the Iranians up for step 3.)
2. Inform Iran that this is the last time they will enter the Abu Gharb oil field, the Iraqi side of the al-Fakkah field, or any other Iraqi oil field… but don’t tell them what will happen if they do. We keep troops fairly nearby but not close enough to keep the Iranians from doing what comes naturally.
3. Within a few months, Iran will do it again; we know they will, because we deliberately signalled weakness with step 1. This is the trigger for which we will be waiting: Our troops move into the region; the Iranians withdraw. But instead of stopping at the border, American troops move into Iranian territory, seize some of their oil wells (on the pretext that they are “disputed territory”)… and sit on them.
4. We invite Iraqi oil workers in to start pumping the oil from these wells and driving it back to Iraq. The idea is not just to chase Iran out of Iraq but to force them to serve penance for their sins.
5. We hold the wells for six months; then we tell Iran that this seizure was their one warning: The next time Iran invades any portion of Iraq, these wells and unspecified other assets will be annexed to Iraq… permanently.
According to Dafyyd, this works on several levels, but the most important of these is the way in which it aids in the crucial transformation of Iraq’s thinking about itself. This action will serve to bring Iraq into the modern world of national boundaries. If this doesn’t happen, he says, “nationalism will never trump tribalism”:
Such a jump is impossible in Afghanistan, at least anytime in the foreseeable future; all we can do there is maintain a more or less “tribal-democratic” government (where each tribe gets a vote — in the form of each person voting) and keep the Taliban and their ilk out of power. But Iraq can be so much more; they can be a powerful American ally in the Middle East into the future. But we must encourage them to stop thinking like their neighbors and start thinking like us.
We cannot allow them to revert to their former ways; the danger to the United States would be dire.
Alas, this is all fantasy: Barack Obama cannot “feign” weakness because he is weak, and only the strong dare such pretense to draw an attack — an expected attack — and turn it back on the enemy. Perhaps someday Iran will school Obama on what it means to act from strength, not submission.
Is he right? Is Barack Obama really “weak”?
So far, our leader’s demeanor seems to indicate this might be the case. A weak man threatens others needlessly, as when Obama recently warned some Senator “don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother”. What a needless taunt — ugly and non-productive. Of course everyone already knows that the Executive branch monitors closely whatever is happening in the Legislative branch. To state the obvious, and to do so in the manner of a schoolyard bully, gives us some sad insights into BHO.
But there is another major outward indication of weakness in Obama. If bullying is one aspect of his make-up, the opposite and necessary mental function is Obama’s obeisance which takes the form of random public bowing to other world leaders. If he weren’t America’s leader this trait would be interesting to dissect. As it is, though, it’s too alarming given the mess we’re in to look too closely at what we’ve got here.
The latest seemingly random action of Obama’s, something that was neither threat nor submission, was the (sort of) surprise bombing of some al Qaeda training camps in Yemen seems part of this personality construct:
In his speech about added troops for Afghanistan earlier this month, President Obama made a brief reference to Yemen, saying, “Where al Qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold — whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere — they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships.”
Until tonight, American officials had hedged about any U.S. role in the strikes against Yemen and news reports from Yemen attributed the attacks to the Yemen Air Force.
President Obama placed a call after the strikes to “congratulate” the President of Yemen, Ali Abdallah Salih, on his efforts against al Qaeda, according to White House officials.
No doubt this action of Obama’s against two of Yemen’s terror camps has led to some cogitating on the part of Somalia and the other “elsewheres” with jihad training camps. They probably know what’s going to get hit, they just don’t know when the missiles will arrive.
The announcement of plans to “confront” al Qaeda was supposed to signal that cruise missiles would be raining down on a few of their camps in the sovereign nation of Yemen? Hmmm… sounds like a reprise of Bill Clinton’s haphazard missile-lobbing military strategy. When this strange, one-off behavior is followed up by a call “congratulating” the President of Yemen it all begins to feel icky.
What next? Who knows? One has the sinking sensation that our President hasn’t a clue about the next scene beyond the fact that he is the center of the drama.
There are times that Obama seems like the very embodiment of Hamlet. Unfortunately for us, he’s Hamlet in a play that draws on The Bald Soprano for its dramaturgy.