Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Quote du Jour: Bolton Says the US has 'no strategic interest' in a united Iraq

Via the IHT:

Bolton suggested in the interview that the United States shouldn't necessarily keep Iraq from splitting up. The Bush administration and the Iraqi government have said they don't want Iraq divided.

"The United States has no strategic interest in the fact that there's one Iraq, or three Iraqs," he was quoted as saying. "We have a strategic interest in the fact of ensuring that what emerges is not a state in complete collapse, which could become a refuge for terrorists or a terrorist state."

This obviously begs the question: is Bolton's opinion a reflection of the Bush administration's attitude?

One of the more vocal proponents of a divided Iraq last year was Democrat Joe Biden who suggested that Iraq should be divided into three ethnic regions and he even launched a web site to promote the idea. His position even found support on Free Republic at the time and Bill O'Reilly endorsed it as well. As at least one critic asked, however, how do you deal with cities like Baghdad which cannot be divided into ethnic regions (although that is being attempted now by Shi'a and Sunni fighters who are gaining control of different neighbourhoods)? There also appears to be a gulf between Bolton's opinion and Biden's plan in that Biden is calling for a central government while Bolton doesn't seem to care what the political structure is (or how it might affect the Iraqi people) since his only concern is managing "terrorists" - a misleading label when it comes to defining the current situation in Iraq which is a mixed bag of sectarian rivalries and those fighting against coalition forces - none of which present a direct threat to the United States.

That designation brings back remnants of the meme the Bush administration tried to push in its rush to war with Iraq (and which too many Americans still believe) - that Iraq was somehow tied to what happened on 9/11 thus Afghanistan was all but abandoned to pursue that erroneous belief (along with the fact that it was a pretty handy excuse to invade Iraq anyway - which the neocons had been pushing for for years).

It seems that stability in Iraq ought to be based on what Iraqis think would be best for their country - not what American politicans think serves America's interests. Futhermore, since Iraq is supposed to be a sovereign country now, what right do Americans have to decide if it should be divided or not and how can they ensure that, united or divided, it will not become a terrorist refuge, as Bolton puts it? America and other western empire builders like Britain have a bad habit of fashioning other countries according to their ideas about what they think is best, only to have those plans backfire again and again.

There is no guarantee, divided or not, that Iraq will have a peaceful future and the Americans have made enough of a mess to this point, worsening the situation continually since they began this war, that they have actually fostered the festering animosity that may continue for decades to come.

Undoing what was foisted upon the Ottoman empire via its new state of Iraq in the 1920s by simply conceding now that that creation was a mistake would definitely not be an easy or necessarily desirable task. Perhaps if the imperialists would just focus on what's going on in their countries for a change instead of spreading their so-called vision for the world on everybody else, they might actually get somewhere.

There's oil and money to be had however and that, unfortunately, is the real driving factor.

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