Saturday, October 27, 2007

New war same as the old war. The Kurds get screwed every time.

George W. Bush says:

"If you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."

The rhetoric has shifted again. It seems, W. & Co. are no longer simply satisfied with just keeping Iran from developing an actual weapon -- in the three to eight years it could take according to the "intelligence community" -- but the deal now is to stop them from even getting the knowledge to build a bomb. They've just lowered the bar considerably for what constitutes a reason for going to war.

And the price of oil soars.


"Crude futures rose to record levels on Friday, supported by worries over political tensions in the Middle East . . . Light, sweet crude for December delivery rose $1.40 to settle Friday at a record $91.86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after rising overnight as high as $92.22, a new trading peak. Crude prices jumped $3.36 a barrel on Thursday. With the recent gains, the price of oil is closing in on the inflation-adjusted highs hit in early 1980. Depending on the adjustment, a $38 barrel of oil in 1980 would be worth $96 to $101 or more today. "

And as we contemplate a war with Iran, the Turks are shelling and strafing northern Iraq in what looks to be preparation for an invasion. Turkey's PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has just rejected an Iraqi offer to place US troops in the Qandil Mountains to keep an eye on the PKK. Not to worry, though, top General Yasar Buyukanit says an attack isn't imminent. It seems the Turks are going to wait until after Erdogan meets with W. on Nov. 5.

That makes me feel a lot better.

Something tells me there isn't going to much W. can say to the Turks to prevent them from going ahead with a full on assault against the rebels hiding in the mountains of northern Iraq. Besides the fact that W. & Co. have done exactly nothing for the past few years about the PKK, despite numerous and heated demands by the Turks, there's also the little problem of the US encouraging the PKK's brothers on the Iranian front, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), to keep up their insurgency against Iran. (Not to even mention the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). It's kind of hard to claim you feel the Turk's pain when you're letting the Kurds run rampant on the Iranian border.

General Patreaus and Condi talk a good game about how the Iranians are destabilizing Iraq (and now Afghanistan, too) by assisting Iraqi Shiite militias, but the Iranians have been doing that sort of thing for decades. When our good buddy the Shah was in power in the 70's, Tricky Dick and his attack dog Henry Kissinger actively supported the Kurds in their insurgency against Iraq. The then leader of Iraq Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr, had the audacity to give refuge to Ayatollah Khomeini and otherwise discomfort the Shah.

Christopher Hitchens wrote about the dirty double game Kissinger was playing with the Kurds in an article he wrote for Harpers in 1991. It seems that this story came to light thanks to a report put together by the House Select Committee on Intelligence Activities in 1976 headed by Congressman Otis Pike. The report found that Kissinger used the Kurds to help destabilize Iraq. . . but not too much.

"Documents in the Committee's possession clearly show that the President, Dr. Kissinger and the foreign head of state [the Shah] hoped that our clients [the Kurds] would not prevail. They preferred instead that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap the resources of our ally's neighbor [Iraq]."

Sound familiar?

This is the really good part, though:

"This policy was not imparted to our clients, who were encouraged to continue fighting."

That is, continue fighting until Kissinger made a deal with the Iraqi #2 at that time, Saddam Hussein, at which point the Kurds were cut loose. Not too long after that, Saddam was given a free hand to get after the Kurds in the Anfal campaign with no interference from us, culminating in the attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988. Coincidentally, when the news of Halabja got out, W.'s daddy initially blamed the Iranians for it.

Rummy went to visit Saddam's #2 Tareq Aziz in 1983 to talk about allowing Bechtel to build the Aqaba pipeline, Rummy didn't really go out of his way to tell the Iraqis to stop gassing the Kurds. He simply mentioned that "certain things" Iraq was doing made it hard for the United States to help Iraq more in its war with Iran. These "certain things" included "chemical weapons, possible escalation in the Gulf and human rights." Those things were never addressed by Saddam but the US supported him to the hilt anyway. [GWU's National Security Archives]

So you see, all this hand wringing about the Iranians destabilizing Iraq is just slightly hypocritical. And the Kurdish problem we've got now is all about the chickens coming home to roost.

But hey, the silver lining is that the price of oil is on its way to beating the Chinese to the moon.

This has all happened before too. Remember what US ambassador to Iraq April (fool) Glaspie told Saddam on the eve of his invasion of Kuwait?

We don't have any opinion on your border disputes, but . . .

"We have many Americans who would like to see the price of oil go above $25 [about $90 in today's money] because they come from oil-producing states." [NYT via]

Wonder who she could have been talking about?


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