John Quiggin has a thread on the ISIS/ISIL/IS/Iznogoud mess in Iraq, which produced a cracking comment from someone called Rabee.
The question for Obama must have been if it is in America’s interest for a civil war to start in Saudi Arabia. I’m not sure about the possible outcomes of such a civil war, but I don’t think any good can come from it. So Obama decides that it is in the national interest that the US tries to defeat IS in Iraq before things get bad in Saudi Arabia.I don’t have a firm opinion on this new war, but I’m not hopeful that anything good will come from it. I do think that this almost exclusively a Saudi problem and the Saudi’s must find their own longterm solution to it. To my mind this should trying to resuscitate parliamentary democracy in Egypt.I have nowhere near the impressive insight of Rabee, but a few things seem clear.
IS is is not a modern guerilla force, just plain old-fashioned infantry, thus air (and I guess sea?) attack is pretty pain-free in terms of soldier lives (albeit costly in dollar terms). Rows of longbowmen would be effective against these throwback chuckleheads, that's how antediluvian they are.
And yes, IS are a product of the Saudis, right down to the vorpal methods. The fact that the Saudis are scared of them doesn't mean they aren't ultimately responsible. The Kingdom could do with some Guy Fawkeses, given they are as suspiciously vicious to their non-chosen citizens as IS. If getting rid of Saddam was a Good Thing Regardless, how much utilitarian worth is there in ridding ourselves of the original cancer, the creators of Al Qaida and ISIS plus whatever comes next? How many more wars is the West supposed to fight to prop up these pretenders? How much worse could the next Caliph-instead-of-the-Caliph be?
Of course, the answer to that last question is probably what he's talking about when he says no good would come of a Saudi civil war. The fear of an actual Caliphate is the new 1950s communist domino theory; reds-under-the-bed replaced by caliph-shot-the-sheriff, and it's fuelled three Iraq wars in twenty years and cost millions of lives. Iz no goud.
I don't see how shipping more ordnance will fix the situation, that will only make it worse. Disarmament is the ultimate answer, as it was in the Cold War to the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction. Unfortunately this isn't as simple as John Howard's gun amnesty. It's monstrously difficult to stop the flow of weapons into the Middle East.
Speaking of the Cold War, does anyone else suspect that the West is being beaten economically like Russia was in the 1980s when they were tricked into pouring billions they didn't have into useless military spending? Or at least, that was the trajectory that George W. Bush had America on, as part of his undeniable legacy as the worst president that country has ever had.
All of this has me looking at Tony Abbott spending $250 million per year to send a token force to support the reluctant Americans and wonder what good it will do. How many lives will it save, and how many will it cost? And what about the budget emerhahahaHAHAHAHAAA... sorry, couldn't finish that thought.
No, if you're wondering, I wouldn't send troops to Iraq, even if they were just flying air support. It's the Saud family's problem, they have enough money and troops, they should deal with it. I'm sick of my countrymen dying for Abdullah ibn Abdilaziz. Put up the dukes and stick up for yourself, old cock.
UPDATE: Thomas Friedman, of all people, says it better than I did.