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Iraq Is A Hard Place

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted February 7, 2007

As if peak oil and the economic chaos that will result were not enough to worry about, it needs to be remembered that the U.S. and certain allies are still involved in military action in two Islamic countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, with rumblings on the horizon concerning what to do about Iran.

My colleague Keith Kohl wrote the other day that the way to avert a disaster over Iran's nuclear ambitions-and let's be honest, folks, does anyone really believe the mullahs in Tehran are only interested in nuclear energy for the peaceful generation of electricity?-that the only way out of this mess is to apply sanctions to Iran, as if taking a wayward child's lollipop to force an end to a temper tantrum.

I'm afraid any sanctions that could be put in place at this juncture would serve merely as an irritant to the Iranian theocratic regime, confirming Ahmadinejad and his cronies in their obstinacy and intransigence. And it must be admitted that, stuck between Iraq and Afghanistan with American troops on both sides, intransigence may not be entirely unjustified from the Tehran regime's point of view.

Stuck in the Sand
 
As has been rightly pointed out, at this moment we-the U.S. and our allies, such as they are-have no good options in dealing with Iran's rogue regime. Their nuclear program is already far advanced, and to prevent the kind of attack Israel carried out against Saddam's Osirak nuclear facility years ago, Iran's complex of nuclear sites is spread out across the country and in some cases buried deep underground.

The U.S. is not in a comfortable position today. Things in Iraq are getting worse by the hour, and anyone who believes the sectarian violence there can be brought under control by a "surge" (a word related in etymology to "insurgency," oddly enough) in troop numbers, well, would you care to check out this bridge I have for sale in Manhattan?

Having been a supporter of Bush's war from the outset, I now find myself forced to admit that the whole thing was botched from beginning to end. And unfortunately we're nowhere near the end yet.

Conning the Neos

It would interest me to know how many others out there have begun to feel like they've been had. Even some of the neo-conservative architects of the war are now admitting that it has failed to achieve any of its goals-except, of course, getting rid of the hated Saddam Hussein. But even there, the manner of his execution has changed his image from that of a psycho despot into a kind of martyr for the minority Sunnis in the country.

At this point I'm tempted to believe that the best solution for Iraq is to break it up into at least three parts and make new countries out of one that was only ever held together with the crazy glue of an absolute (and absolutely ruthless) dictator.

There could be a Sunni state, one for the Shi'ites, and a free Iraqi Kurdistan in the north. Of those, the Kurdish element would have the greatest chance of succeeding, as the Kurds have been on our side against Saddam and now against insurgent chaos from the beginning.

How to divide up the rest of the country is something I'm not qualified to say, but since Iraq itself came into being as lines drawn on a map after World War One, it's not all that farfetched an idea to subdivide it now.

No Good Options

The trouble with this option is there would be no way to control the outcome after the division, any more than we could stop the looting after Saddam was toppled. There are substantial minorities of Sunnis in the Shi'a areas and vice versa. Baghdad is thoroughly mixed and would need to become some kind of internationally protected city-state, as the prospects of disentangling its mixture of residents is about as likely as the Pope converting to Islam.

And the Turks would definitely not be happy with the idea of an independent Kurdish state at their back, as that country's own ethnic Kurds would immediately want to join their brethren and cast off the yoke of Ankara.

So no matter what we do, for the moment we're stuck. If we pulled out tomorrow the chaos would be unthinkable-even more so than it already is. The newly elected Democratic majority itself recognizes this: After running on an anti-war platform, they can now only muster a non-binding resolution disapproving of Bush's conduct of the war. No attempt will be made in the near term to cut the purse strings and force a withdrawal.

Fools Rush In

The wicked joke that's been going around for some time now goes like this: Who says we don't have an "exit strategy" from Iraq? Sure we do-it just happens to lead through Iran.

If only it were that simple.

Meanwhile, the situation in Afghanistan seems to be slipping out of control again, too. The resurgent (there's that "surge" word again) Taliban is making inroads, greatly aided by the lawlessness in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

And speaking of Pakistan: What will we do if that country falls into the hands of a radical Islamist regime? It would be like Iran only with a ready-made stockpile of nukes.

Where does this leave us? Unfortunately, stuck in a volatile region of the world with a major commitment of manpower and military hardware, the future uncertain, no good options for a resolution to the conflict, and with an Iranian president who denies the Holocaust while boasting of his intentions to finish the job Hitler started.

The only thing certain is that more opportunities in military stocks and related securities (ironic word, that) are likely to present themselves on a regular basis. Readers of Angel Publishing's New America Investor already made 175% on our recommendation of Force Protection. We got stopped out of that position when the stock took a temporary beating, but it has since recovered a bit and we may look to get back in when the time seems right.

It would be great if we could focus on one problem at a time, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, the looming oil crisis, global warming and our disastrous presence in the Middle East are all hitting us at the same time. Only the bold and determined investor will be likely to weather the storm. And that's what we're here to help you do.

Until next time,

Ned Humphrey

P.S. If you care to comment, you can reach me at nedangel@gmail.com.

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