Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Third Iraq War 2014: A Brief Consideration of the Strategy and the Stakes

'The current wave of bombing in Syria appears to be a response, as is often the case with air wars, to US domestic politics. It is to show Barack Obama is “not a wimp” and is “taking the fight to the enemy”. Even so he has been forced to justify it on the grounds that Isis is a “threat to American security”, a ludicrous claim.'-US air strikes against Isis will only escalate violence, Simon Jenkins, Guardian Sepember 23 2014
Debates about the strategy to deal with ISIS continue. The reason why the US is leading a coalition of states to destroy ISIS, already joined by France, is concerned mostly with a regional threat to global energy security and it seems Jenkins does not grasp how global power politics in 2014 actually works.

It is obvious that the the claim ISIS is a threat to the US or Britain is 'ludicrous'. With the Scottish referendum won, Cameron is now set to try to overcome the humiliation of Parliament's rejection of his war against Assad in 2013 now a clearly defined global evil has been identified in the form of ISIS.

The fact that had Assad's regime been destroyed the threat of ISIS, which wants Assad to be destroyed as much as the Western leaders did, would have been worse is now a fact to be forgotten. But the entire reversal of strategy within a year hardly induces much confidence in them.

The truth is we are not going to know what the military strategy is because we are obvioisly not going to be told. The endgame is still defeat ISIS and then build up the so-called 'moderate' sunni 'rebels' to overthrow Assad and win a geopolitical contest over Iran and secure the influence of the Gulf states and Turkey.

Part of this is concerned with energy security. A Qatar-Turkey gas pipeline and pro-western Sunni government would check Russian control over the offshore gas reserves of the Levant basin and hence Putin's influence in the energy rich Eastern Mediterranean region.

Evidently, ISIS is a threat to the present and future planned expansion of the oil production in the Kurdistan region east of Kirkuk and down in the Shi'ite regions of the south. These reserves are needed to keep the oil price stable and so power the global economies of the West and East Asia.

Resource wars and the recurrent threat of the dispossessed in lands ravaged by war, chaos and the impact of global heating, as is clear in the Sunni Arab regions of Syria where the Fertile Crescent that sustained life for millennia is dying, are set to dominate the 21st century.

ISIS's spread and surge into Iraq represents an outgrowth of these resource struggles in Syria and Iraq. Jenkins seems to be under the impression these wars are all about wars of choice launched by strutting and posturing democratic politicians wanting to win votes and to be 'tough on terror'.

To an extent, that is clearly a pressure. The 'public diplomacy' offensive designed to big up the ISIS threat and soften up public opinion to the idea of a long war or 'generational struggle' reflects the foreknowledge that the west would need to intervene wherever militant groups threaten resource interests.

It's odd than Jenkins cites the First Gulf War of 1990 as a better example of a war waged with 'total commitment' rather than one that starts with bombing and advances into a larger war by stealth and because of 'mission creep'. After all, that war, as with the Third Gulf War, was concerned with energy security too.

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