Weekend Round-Up of U.S. Global Power Games
The big news in bated breath anticipation of outcomes hopefully serving American geopolitical interests is the Iraqi election on May 7. The stakes are high, whoa-ho-ho!, so CNN sits down with its resident foreign expert guy, Fareed Zakaria. The main question on every Americans mind is, Will the trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives destroyed be redeemed by Iraqi democracy? Tell us, Fareed!
And that positive outcome is that Iraq will be the first Arab country to have a genuine functioning democratic system with a free press, open economy and that is something of a revolution in the Middle East.
So what Iraq has to demonstrate is that the majority, which will inevitably be largely Shia, has the capacity to give some form of representation to the various minorities within Iraq. Iraq has to show that it understands that democracy is not just majority rule but pluralism and inclusion for the various minority groups.
So in the long arc of history was this worth it? You probably do need a little more time and perspective, and you do need to see how it turns out. But I think we could be heartened by the fact there are things we can place on the positive side of the ledger to balance the enormous costs that both the Iraqis and the Americans have paid.
How reasonable. That Fareed is a reasonable centrist guy. He takes out a ledger and draws two columns, one labeled “Pluses” and the other “Minuses.” In the negative column: Abu Ghraib, hundreds of thousands of dead civilians, destabilized Middle East, Halliburton, Blackwater, civil war, balkanization, American soldiers killed or traumatized, including a rise in domestic violence and suicide. In the plus column: neocon talking points. See? It all balances out. Just ask Ahmad Chalabi.
Meanwhile, the U.S.-led GWOT has new fronts in Somalia and Yemen. When I say “Yemen,” you say, “underpants bomber” and “Ft. Hood shooter.” When I say “Somalia,” you say, “pirates.” When I snap my fingers, you will have no recollection of this conversation. Currently, the U.S. is assisting a Somalian military effort to retake Mogadishu from Al Shahab and al-Qaeda control.
Most of the American military assistance to the Somali government has been focused on training, or has been channeled through African Union peacekeepers. But that could change. An American official in Washington, who said he was not authorized to speak publicly, predicted that American covert forces would get involved if the offensive, which could begin in a few weeks, dislodged Qaeda terrorists.
“What you’re likely to see is airstrikes and Special Ops moving in, hitting and getting out,” the official said.
Perhaps I have been reading too much John le Carré that it’s making me all cynical about the motives and competence of everyone involved, but this tidbit toward the end of the article offers some amusing trivia:
There seems to be a qualitative difference, too. Somalia’s forces are now led by General Gelle, a colonel in Somalia’s army decades ago who most recently was an assistant manager at a McDonald’s in Germany. He is known among Somali war veterans as one of the best Somali officers still alive.
I have nothing to add to the parting words of Kai Eide. But I think the Google Ad accompanying the article adds something to the conversation, don’t you?