And the Aftermath?
As of April 15, 2003, things are quieting down in Iraq. The war is over. Small pockets of resistance will quickly be eliminated. Thus we begin the tedious and expensive processes of implementing a provisional military government and rebuilding Iraq. I hear estimates in the range of two to three years for the USA to create a new Iraqi democracy and turn the government over to the Iraqis. "Perhaps" Iraqi oil will pay for all of it, along with the cost of the war, via contracts awarded to Bechtel and Halliburton, thus saving USA taxpayers from any financial pain. This sense of ending gives us time to consider both what we did and what the future is likely to hold inside and outside Iraq.
Letís look first at the positive side. Saddam Hussein, a truly nasty person, has been eliminated. I know not whether he is dead or alive, but at a practical level it really doesnít matter. Hussein was much like Josef Stalin, but on a smaller scale, as he killed all who opposed him relentlessly, without remorse. The Hussein regime is history. It will not return, nor will any similar regime exist in Iraq any time into the foreseeable future. For this reality we can be thankful and we can only hope that the common Iraqi citizens agree.
Despots have no place in the modern world, and one by one the remaining countries with dictatorships must be convinced to change to effective parliamentary systems and electoral processes that realistically allow for two or more political parties. The demise of Iraqís dictatorship by force is a rather strong indicator of the intent of the USA in making global changes to assure that result. Iraq is only the "first shot," regardless of what Colin Powell and others proclaim in Washington. It is simply a matter of time and opportunity.
The publicly proclaimed position of the moment in Washington will quickly change if Iran and Syria do not kowtow to our wants. That is, if warnings or sanctions do not bring them into line, we will have another round of statements about them harboring Al Qaida, possessing weapons of mass destruction, hiding Saddam, etc. That will be followed by moving aircraft carriers back to the Gulf and using our recent aggressive behavior towards Iraq as a "last warning" to submit to USA government (as opposed to UN) will.
Ultimately, we do want to see all nations of the world seek peace and democracy, and show a good spirit of cooperation re international issues, as might be accomplished through the UN. At a personal level, I too want global democracy and a strong UN body (including military power) to resolve international issues through diplomacy and economic rewards and, when necessary, punishments.
That the USA saw fit to ignore UN procedures and attack Iraq is not good, yet the narrow result of eliminating Saddam Hussein was good. Of course, he could have been assassinated, but that would not have given the USA the strong position in Iraq re future political control of the region and oil. But now I wonder what will happen in the aftermath? Will we respect the UN or will we again aggress at our pleasure?
Before I get to the future, let me take a moment to digress and re-state Destiny goals relative to the effect of backward, oppressive religions on backward peoples. That sounds like I am headed into "left field," but do bear with me. Put succinctly, backward religions, which means virtually all religions, must be replaced with a Humanity that has the ability to think and the education to understand what we were, what we are and where we are going as a species. Religion has served the purpose of helping to avoid social chaos for thousands of years in virtually every society. Common and not very bright people are given rules and hope via religion, and that has been useful, but only to avoid the social chaos that would result from "godless" and "lawless" people.
The Soviets and the Chinese were the first major modern powers to displace religions under communism. Their experiments validated the idea that people need something to believe in, and rules to follow, but not necessarily in the traditional religious sense. The return of some people to the practice of religion following the collapse of the Soviet Union was, of course, to be expected, along with many undesirable results of non-religious variety.
Islamic countries are populated by large numbers of very ignorant people whose ignorance is maintained through oppressive religious practices and a generally anti-education philosophy. They are sort of like the fundamentalists of the "religious right" in the USA, who are to be feared for their voting power and pitied for their ignorance. Destiny seeks to educate people to get beyond historical practices that were "good for their time in history." Thus, the fall of Saddam Hussein will have some positive effect in exposing Iraqi citizens forcibly to external cultural practices. We will inject secular USA life into Iraq to the detriment of traditional Islamic rules and practices. That means exposure to vices and freedoms will subvert Islamic peoples, first in Iraq and later in Iran and Syria. Secular government will become the rule in the Middle East.
The proof of viability of this approach is seen in the history of Turkey, which moved to a secular government in the 1920ís and 1930ís, thanks to Kamal Ataturk. Remnants of oppressive Islamic practices are still present, but Turkey was modernized thoroughly by the late 1930ís, to the detriment of Islamic extremes. The same results will occur in any backward Middle Eastern country that the USA or the UN decide to modernize by some type of force. People who receive education and freedom, and some reasonable economic hope, do not adhere to severe, backward religions, if they are mentally capable of using education and freedom and economic opportunity. If you doubt that assertion, consider the composition of the congregations in the USA that comprise the majority of the voters for the "religious right." They are the incapable, that is, people who cannot, in the truest sense, think. The leaders, of course, certainly do think, and they use religion to force political results. Of course, the composition of general populations across the world indicates high levels of those incapable of thinking, even without a religious overtone. Thus, there will be some fraction of people in any culture who will be unable to change due to severely limited intellect.
I have no reason to doubt the basic intelligence of people in the Middle East, and no reason to assume a different intelligence distribution there relative to the rest of the world. Cultural development has been slow, but think how their horridly poor physical environment has limited them for at least 6000 years. Yet, at this time in history, oil is important and they have it. If they are allowed to use oil income to advance, they will, provided extreme Islamic practices and teachings, along with dictators, are forbidden. They will be forbidden.
As a Humanitarian, I am cursed with the reality that the decision by the USA to eliminate Saddam is definitely a step in the right direction for the elimination of an oppressive religion in the region as well as an oppressive government. Unfortunately, the very behaviors exhibited by the USA to accomplish that goal are dead opposite Destiny directives for Humanitarian solutions to our evolution, i.e., commerce, education, in that order to expose the profound weaknesses of repressive governments and religions and promote real growth through applied technology in genetic engineering.
So, I am between a rock and a hard place. The USA has demonstrated fully that it doesnít really understand history, the present or the future by resorting to brute force, both at home (Waco) and abroad. The USA has simply repeated the same insane behavior that has characterized all earlier powerful nations. I wonít even bother to accuse the USA of less than admirable objectives; for it matters not what the objectives are when the chosen path leads to more worldwide violence instead of commerce and education.
One can argue effectively that the USA actions in the face of apparent UN indecision got us to a tidy conclusion quickly. There was no one of consequence to oppose us militarily, and the potential downstream benefits for Iraq and the Middle East region are many. But will we know when to reinstate diplomacy once we have tasted the quick and sweet flavor of military victory? Will we in fact use Iraqi oil fairly to promote the wellbeing of Iraqi citizens or will we do what we did in the 1950ís and 1960ís throughout the Middle East and basically rob them by paying too little per barrel?
Best of intentions is really a weak argument, for it uses ends to justify means without consideration of downstream world events. That the intentions might be less than admirable doesnít even need to be considered to make the point that the future for the USA and belligerent countries, like North Korea, looks ominous if and when the USA continues using military force or threats of military force to cause other nations to fall.
One might say that we "got away with crushing Iraq" in that no nation has declared war on the USA as a direct result of our actions. This was also true historically when the Japanese expanded in the Pacific Rim, prior to attacking Pearl Harbor, and when the Germans expanded in Europe prior to attacking Poland. The point is that a sequence of successful military enterprises can dull the conquerors into believing that they can simply continue current behaviors without penalty. That is my greatest fear for the USA.
My next concern is that we are beginning to show hunger for colonialism in the old Ottoman Empire. The British and the French, who were historically colonialists, divided the Ottoman Empire after WWI, into countries that supported their wants, without consideration of ethnicity, religion, etc., and unrest in the Middle East has been a constant since that time. They failed to have any economic advantage from so doing and their efforts failed relative to supporting their economies. They didnít realize the importance of oil. Oil adds to the problem today as we have a powerful hunger for oil. So, are we to do in the 21st century what Britain and France did from the 1600ís through the 1800ís around the globe?
Essentially all powerful nations have historically plundered all areas of the world that had natural resources and/or a cheap labor market, to increase the wealth at home. Areas that were not good to exploit for financial reasons, like South America, were essentially ignored after the Spanish removed the gold. Simply think about the British in India (jute and tea), or the British and Dutch in South Africa (diamonds and precious metal ores). Conquer and plunder are the real reasons behind all military adventures, not the exporting of freedom or the removal of weapons of mass destruction.
We lie blatantly as nations like Great Britain and France did in the past. Our common citizens are far too ignorant and far too hopeful to ever actually understand this reality, ergo USA soldiers died in Iraq to support opportunism, not freedom. The problem is, you see, that the very behaviors that are illegal for common citizens individually are exactly what is done by governments with impunity, for there is no international court to try, convict and sentence the mighty. Only the weak and ignorant are subject to controls of any sort, and for them oppression is approaching completion in the USA and elsewhere in the "civilized" world. Government and business are the primary sources of oppression here, as opposed to religions, but the reliable constant in any future society is that commoners will be oppressed and subject to the whims of the wealthy.
I think not so much now of the Middle East as I do of the Far East, for that domain is populated by Orientals with their own sense of Manifest Destiny. Middle Eastern nations have not been strong in the last 400 years. Such is not the case in the Far East. Industrialization of the Peoples Republic of China will result in Chinese military and economic dominance over all other countries of that region. Potential cooperation between the countries in the Far East seems unlikely, until one views reality as all Orientals Vs all non-Orientals. Spheres of economic influence and trade dependencies will evolve, and not to our favor.
I am trying to say that the future has in store for us the development of a world region that will one day be at least as powerful as the USA and Europe combined, both economically and militarily. The days of global USA military dominance will end with Far East development. Such is the path of history for all earlier dominant nations, and the path of the future for the USA. We simply havenít arrived yet. We are "feeling our Cheerios" with our recent conquest, and we blindly believe that our will can overcome any resistance. I hope we wake up.