|It's unwise to consider President Bush responsible for every bit of the US dilemma in Iraq. His father's administration encouraged Saddam diplomatically to invade Kuwait in 1990, to bounce on him militarily. Blockade followed, and Clinton's administration carried it on duly for eight years. By the era of George W Bush, Iraq looked like, and it really was, a wormy fruit.
The successive administrations concerted that sequence of events to tackle the new emerging situation in the region: how to destroy the burgeoning military powers of Iraq and Iran.
The prolonged war between them was about to end by 1990. It was obvious that the result would be "no loser, no winner". Though exhausted, each of Iraq and Iran had accumulated a huge military power. They both produced biological and chemical weapons, had nuclear power programs and were capable of developing them. Present day Iran is a prima facie evidence.
Unlike India and Pakistan, Iraq and Iran had regional ambitions that would go against the American wind, especially in the Gulf. These ambitions, for US, were and still are a red line. Bush's administration lied and lied to intervene militarily in Iraq. The plan was to topple Saddam's regime, settle Iraq and settle the American troops in it. In this way, US could impose its own agenda on Tehran, one that would unde."mine not only its military power, but also the very basis of the Mullah regime.
Retrospectively, US looked like a chess player who played chess taking no notice of what the other player might move. US wasn't wrong, there was no visible player on the scene. No bordering country would dare to back those who might think of resistance. "Even those who may think of it," US must have asked, "Why should they resist? If they do, then Iraq isn't a wormy fruit."
Iraq was that fruit for the American plan, and Saddam was toppled easily. Nevertheless, where has all that resistance to the American troops come from? It came from sociology; this is not a joke. Let's consider the two possible alternatives: Hadn't US intervened in Iraq, no doubt that Iraq and Iran would have become two nuclear powers. Having intervened, US gave Iran a good opportunity to carry on its nuclear program. Either this or that, a regional nuclear power will emerge; it will reshape the Middle East and impose a regional agenda on USA.
The alphabet of sociology says, "With the lapse of time, social relations, within one and the same society, and among societies, develop more and more." They don't do every day or every year for sure, but through periodical interruptions. The downfall of the Soviet Union marked an interruption as such. US policy, in the Middle East, gave that alphabet a deaf ear.
No doubt, better social relations within those societies, and between them and the peoples of the West, imply developing the Middle East economically. That development is not possible without foreign investment; and the prerequisite of that investment is political stability. The grindstone, therefore, is a peaceful settlement between Israel and its neighbouring Arab countries and encouraging democracy.
Instead of steering that way, US policy pulled in the opposite direction. It always backed Israel, even in its massacres against Palestinians. Doubtless, President Clinton tried to reach a Palstinian-Israeli agreement, but he did that when he was a lame duck. The result of his efforts was next to nothing. President Bush, all over the next six years, spoke too loud of a viable Palestine state but did nothing, as if he had spoken that loud to conceal his inaction.
Like stability, like democracy. Democracy was and still a necessity in and for the Middle East. People started to feel the exigency of it, especially at the end of the Cold War on. President Bush sang the Song of Solomon to it. First, a few people believed his democratic orientation in the area, and his singing was a positive element in the democratic tide. Seeing what happened in Iraq, people were skeptical not of his democracy, but of "democracy". The great majority of people are now sure that democracy is a big lie. It is, in the hand of the West, like a hose in the hand of a firefighter. It is now on the ebb.
To conclude, President Bush is not a lame duck, but USA is. The only things the American troops can do in the region are to burn themselves in the Iraqi hell, and drop the Iraqi people in it. Among those to blame for that, are the American strategists.
From the context of the past sociology, they should have abstracted at least an outline of what the relationships between peoples would be in the post Cold War period. They should have inferred that the relationships between the peoples of different countries would no longer be strong-weak ones. Rather, they would be like ones among the citizens of the same country, based on democracy. Democracy allows the people, and leads the peoples, of different interests to cooperate.
The downfall of the Soviet Union was fruitful to the world society, the Russian included, not only to the American. The American strategists wanted US to monopolize those fruits. To misunderstand sociology, they are only human; but to blind their own eyes is unforgivable: they, at least, must have seen the orchestrated march in and of the EU. "It's high time to rehabilitate sociology", this is the feedback of the Iraqi lesson.
Commentary by Ali Shihabi