Additional Responses to Professor Juan Cole’s Analysis of my article: “Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal.”

On Professor Cole’s blog, Informed Comment, he wrote: (You can access it by scrolling down to April 3 or hit the Ctrl and F key and type “Kirstein”).

“Nor is it like Vietnam in the sense that its falling apart would have few international consequences. The neighbors could be drawn into a new regional war (a proxy war between Wahhabi Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran is possible). And if the oil installations and pipelines in the Gulf started being bombed, the world economy could go into a tailspin. I do agree with Kirstein that Cheney’s nightmare of a terrorist al-Qaeda mini-state in Anbar province is impossible. Iran, Turkey, Syria and Jordan would not put up with it, and they are powerful enough to put paid to any such thing in their neighborhood.”

There certainly were “international consequences” as a result of the end of U.S. involvement in their war of genocide and extermination in Southeast Asia. The rise of the Khmer Rouge, the virtual annexation of Laos to Vietnam, and the hegira of about 1.5 million boat people. Yet the savage bombing and murderous genocide against an Asian people that never desired conflict with the U.S. ended. Ho Chi Minh entreated President Truman to support his declaration of independence against French colonialism but was ignored as the U.S. attempted to establish hegemonic colonial rule during the Cold War: which was never about Communism but only about U.S. imperialism and thirst for global domination. However, he is correct if he means that there was not destabilisation of governments outside of Southeast Asia and the war did not spread outside the region. That could be used as an argument FOR U.S. disengagement from Iraq as well. The great destabiliser, the U.S., is removed and instability becomes less pronounced.

“And if the oil installations and pipelines in the Gulf started being bombed, the world economy could go into a tailspin.”

I agree with Professor Cole that the economic consequences of Vietnamization and withdrawal were minimal outside the region. Yet would Iraqi oil production be much less than now? It is producing less oil now than before the neo-conservative, Hitlerian, unprovoked invasion of March 19, 2003. The world petroleum market has been functioning with reduced Iraqi oil production for almost twenty years now. I am not sure how a U.S. departure would significantly affect that. Yet the professor does mention pipelines in the Gulf could be destroyed. Could not those assets be secured with naval projection of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf? If we escorted tankers during the “Tanker War” without a commensurate ground war, why could not these assets be protected in the Gulf as well? I may be unaware of geostrategic realities here but I do not see a clear argument that ending American war crimes in Iraq would ineluctably lead to a major reduction in oil supplies.

“I do agree with Kirstein that Cheney’s nightmare of a terrorist al-Qaeda mini-state in Anbar province is impossible. Iran, Turkey, Syria and Jordan would not put up with it, and they are powerful enough to put paid to any such thing in their neighborhood.”

What the University of Michigan professor is saying here is that Al Qaeda would not set up a mini-state, a mini-Afghanistan to train and launch operations against the Anglo-American crusaders much less “moderate” Arab states. Al Qaeda only numbers about 1,000 persons in Iraq if that many as opposed to perhaps 18,000 Iraqi-indigenous insurgents. Iran is no fan of Al Qaeda and certainly the Shi’a are not. I wonder if the Sunnis would welcome their support after an insurgency ended due to their disparate traditions of religiosity v. secularism. The Bolsheviks, subsequent to the overthrow of the Czars, abandoned their erstwhile partners in revolution as they moved to the October phase of constructing a socialist state.

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