Thursday, 7 August 2014

End of the Bush/Blair Doctrine

From the BBC:

Up to a quarter of Iraq's Christians are reported to be fleeing after Islamic militants seized the minority group's biggest town.

The Islamic State (IS) group captured Qaraqosh overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces.

IS has been gaining ground in northern Iraq since June, and also controls some of Syria.

The US has warned that the situation for Iraq's minority groups threatens to become a "humanitarian catastrophe".

Following up from something that DBC Reed said, it used to be said that "he might be a bastard, but at least he's our bastard". The Bush/Blair view was "he might be our bastard but he's still a bastard". A more modern view would be "they're all bastards, so you might as well at least pick one that's friendly to you and not too unreasonable".

Personally, I don't believe that democracy can happen in most of the Middle East. Too much centralisation of economic power based on oil means that it's a winner takes all game with tribe fighting tribe for the money. So, you've got a choice between gangsters and theocracies. On balance, I think the gangsters are probably better. I'm not saying they're peachy, but theocracies have all the problems of gangsters plus they'll introduce a ton of rules about how you have to live. All gangsters care about is being top dog and getting richer. The Shah of Iran was fine with you wearing a miniskirt and listening to ABBA. Just don't try and depose him. But post-revolutionary Iran didn't want that or the ABBA and miniskirts.

I think the IS situation in Iraq is basically the end of "regime change" and the neocon agenda. It's not just that the post-invasion of Iraq was a clusterfuck, it's that trying to turn these people into the sort of pluralist society we have in Britain just can't be imposed. Look at Northern Ireland - we can't get them to vote for parties except along "part of Ireland/not part of Ireland lines" sectarian lines. Why did anyone think that Iraq was going to be all smiles?


Ian Hills said...

I wonder who they'll persecute when there's no-one left to persecute?

Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed. Especially the point about Northern Irelan, we haven't even managed to "impose democracy" in Northern Irelan, so heck knows why anybody imagines we can do it in the Middle East.

@ IH, they will turn on each other. Muslims love nothing more than killing each other.

The Stigler said...


Just a thought on that - why does anyone in Northern Ireland even care about which they're part of? I'm applying this to both sides.

In the 60s and 70s I could understand that there were some big differences between Britain and Ireland but today it seems to me like you couldn't stick a fag paper between them. If Ireland were united, no-one in the north would notice much difference.

Lola said...

On top of which ethnic divisions were imposed the post WW1 boundaries which cross all those tribal areas.

So the clusterfuck has been a long time in the making.

This is Iraq/Iran/Syria breaking up and returning to various caliphates along marginally differing Islamic sectarian lines.

The problem is the poor souls caught in the middle who are not part of any of these sects - the Christians for example.

IMHO you just let them get on with it whilst doing your humanitarian best for the victims.

Arguably the same can be seen in the Ukraine / Russia nonsense.

Steven_L said...

they will turn on each other

Isn't that the plan? I thought it was Bin Laden that wanted a united middle east and north africa?

How else do you explain what was going on here?

The Stigler said...


And Rwanda was pretty much the same.

Countries need to broadly be about one people. The Scots may moan about the English, but the vote is almost certain to stay as remaining in the UK because the Scottish identity is ultimately a sub-identity like being a Yorkshireman, Cornishman or Scouser.

Lola said...

TS. Good point.