Woodrow Wilson: Iraq III

Humans have extremely short memories when it comes to history. If we remembered the circumstances of how many of the countries in the middle east were created, we might be less willing to fight wars to protect those "nations".

The exploding situation in Iraq is now capturing everyone's attention and our President and Congress are trying to figure out what we can do to keep Iraq from tearing apart.

The large city of Mosul was over run by the terrorist group ISIS, former elements of Saddam Hussein's regime and Sunni tribes that are supporting them. The majority Sunni population more or less didn't put up too much resistance and at least as of now appears to not be suffering as much as their Shiite neighbors.

The Shiites of the city had another fate. Many of the ones that were working for the so called Iraqi national army simply left their weapons and abandoned their posts for more Shiite dominated areas. Many of the general population that stayed were slaughtered or chased out.

Meanwhile, as the majority Shiite national army fled Kirkuk, the better armed Kurds moved in to control and defend the majority Kurd city which they feel has belonged to their people and greater Kurdistan all along.

In Shiite areas of Bagdad and the areas of Iraq closer to the Iran border, the Sunnis are being slaughtered and forced to flee.

All of these circumstances show that the vast majority of people in Iraq view democracy as a relationship between conquerors and the conquered.

Into this situation our government is for whatever reason trying to send in troops (or advisors) to simply protect the status quo and keep the area from descending into chaos. The problem with that is that chaos and warfare are what the people over there want. If the majority of the people viewed themselves as Iraqis and not tribesmen that belong to one religion or another, then many of these things would not be happening.

Whether we like it or not, part of Iraq is really part of Kurdistan, part of it really is part of Iran and part of it should belong to a greater Arabian Sunni state. We should also ask ourselves if it even makes sense to insist that they fight for a nation they don't even identify with.

You might ask yourself what any of this has to do with Woodrow Wilson and I can certainly understand that.

Woodrow Wilson wanted to form the League of Nations to stop "aggressive wars". France and Britain needing America's economic and military support in World War I adopted  much of his high minded rhetoric about fighting wars for democracy, freedom etc. and not simply to get stuff or force others to submit to a more powerful nation's will as they've always been fought for.

The problem with all that was that France and Britain had a secret agreement to divide up the middle east after the conclusion of the war. They couldn't do this before only for the reason that the Ottoman Empire existed before the war and kept them out of the region. With the death of the Ottoman Empire, they were free to divide up the middle east just as they had done with Africa and parts of Asia before.

It was in their interest to be required to mediate conflicts and decide winners and losers, so they formed nations and protectorates made of multiple peoples that never had much to do with each other in the past.

None of this is to excuse any of the brutality in the middle east and the general casual attitude they seem to take towards killing each other, but it shows that there is at least a connection with history and a lesson that should have been learned.

There is no reason why many of these countries in the middle east should even exist in their current form and we should not intervene if they want to re-draw the borders whether by force or agreement.  

The vast majority of people in Wilson's day would have only cared about keeping a business like relationship with the peoples over there and would not have minded if they bought oil from the Sunni's, Shia, or Kurds and never would have dreamed of getting involved in their inter-tribal conflicts. Perhaps there is some wisdom in that.

For a much more eloquent description of World War I and the middle east, visit dancarlin.com and listen to his Common Sense podcast titled "Riding Chaos to Stasis".

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