Sunday, January 05, 2020

Will Trump turn Iraq into a full-blown enemy?

Exactly 50 years ago today, Max Born died. In 2020, it's common for pseudoscientific activists to question the fundamentally probabilistic meaning of quantum mechanics that brought him his Nobel Prize.
Donald Trump has decided to assassinate Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a widely respected general in Iran whom Trump blames for the death of many Americans and for his plans to murder many more. The U.S. military has fulfilled Trump's order flawlessly. Some extra powerful Iraqi folks were assassinated, too.

Iran vs U.S., perhaps a helpful 101 ten-minute-long video.

I am willing to believe that there is a good justification for the assassination of that Gentleman and even if his personal guilt were insufficient, I think that it may be a good idea for the U.S. to remind Iran who is stronger – before a hypothetical peaceful negotiation takes place. But I am not actually sure that the attack was a great idea. Also, I am not sure whether it was mainly decided as a Trump's idiosyncrasy, or by the deep state, or by the public opinion.

Even more curiously, I am not sure what I would do if I could make such decisions. Well, I didn't really know what to think about the 2003 Iraq War, either.

In Summer 1980, months before I joined an elementary school, I was hearing about the Iran-Iraq War on TV rather often. A year earlier, I already heard the name of Pahlavi every day on TV – one of the first political names that sounded attractively unfamiliar and that increased my interest in politics. One of the reasons for the attraction was the fact that Pahlavi sounded similar to pohlaví, the main Czech word for sex (sexual identity, male or female; sometimes used for the organs). For many years, I wasn't sure whether the similarity was a coincidence.

At any rate, in the 1980 war, Saddam and Khomeini, the newly installed mullah-in-chief, were clearly enemies. The situation has evolved in many ways. By having removed and eliminated Saddam Hussein, America has unavoidably strengthened the pro-Iranian (and Shia) folks in Iraq. Was this broader outcome an improvement? Was it a mistake? I am still not sure.

While Trump has won the hearts of many Russians who pretty much think like the Republicans, the situation is different in Iran. I think that Iran finds America as hostile as it was during Obama's and previous administrations if not more so. Clearly, Iran doesn't want to be destroyed so it will probably moderate its responses. At least I hope so.

Heavy Pochondriac, "We Don't Live In Iraq, Thank God", 2005

However, the regional power Iran isn't the only issue. Iraq might be the actual central issue from the U.S. viewpoint because that's a place that has been a puppet state of a sort for decades. Today, the Iraqi parliament unanimously voted to expel all the U.S. troops. It seems clear to me that the Iraqi nation and politicians are almost unified in their opposition to Trump's recent attack. And that attitude makes Iraq a de facto "wannabe province of Iran".

Well, the unanimous vote doesn't mean that all lawmakers who were elected want to expel the U.S. troops. The Shiites voted "expel" and the Kurds and Sunnis didn't show up because they probably don't want to expel.

If you have asked me, I would have predicted that Iraq would demand the withdrawal of the troops and Iran will revoke the nuclear deal. Update: Iran has revoked it, indeed. Incidentally, open to see some combative Iranian headlines.

Make no mistake about it, the "kind of government" that exists in Iraq is very different from Iran's. Iran is basically a one-party system. Well, instead of 1 party overtaking the Parliament, the 2016 elections saw 3 associations of experts that divided the non-Parliament. But two of them look similar to each other and one of them is more moderate.

Iraq has a much more conventional, Western-style Parliament. In the 2018 elections, nine parties got to the Parliament and received between 14.5% and 3.5% of votes (between 54 and 14 lawmakers). Sorted from the strongest ones, they are a communist party named Saairun; the Shia Fatah Alliance (which was active against ISIS); an Islamo-democratic Victory Alliance; Kurdish Democrats; secular State of Law Coalition and the similar National Coalition; the anti-secular but non-sectarian National Wisdom Movement; Kurdish Patriots; Sunni Uniters for Reform Coalition.

It's complicated, all kinds of combinations of secular vs anti-secular, sectarian vs non-sectarian, Sunni vs Shia are represented in the Parliament but the commies are the strongest now. I think that these bizarre idiosyncrasies don't really matter when the nation feels united about something and their opposition to the U.S. strikes does unite Iraq.

In a Persian Market, Karel Gott, 1964. I think that the Golden Voice of Prague wasn't quite mature yet. While he was expressive and comical, Korn's musically conservative version sounds better to me.

Should Trump keep the soldiers against the will of the Iraqi Parliament and, almost certainly, a vast majority of the Iraqi citizens? Or should he even increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq? Is that how a decent country living within the international law should behave? Well, the answer to this question is almost certainly No but it's not a fatal No, I think. Even if the answer is No, we should still ask: Could such an assertive behavior bring advantages to the U.S. (and maybe its fans and allies if they exist)?

I don't know. The ISIS has been defeated and Saddam has been dead for many years. The continued presence of the U.S. troops who are sometimes sacrificing their lives (and their deaths would be much more likely if the U.S.-Iraqi and U.S.-Iranian tensions escalated) seems to be rather badly motivated to me. If I were in charge of the White House, I would almost certainly withdraw the troops. I just wouldn't be able to find a sufficient justification for the behavior that I consider immoral and uncivilized. Yes, the guys who have been assassinated may be responsible for some U.S. lives in the region. But those deaths of the Americans weren't the first events, either. They were responses to the American arrival there and the murder of some local folks. Perhaps we could continue to analyze the events further to the past and the moral trial could turn into a chicken-or-egg problem. But no clear answer to the chicken-or-egg problem will be found, anyway.

There are some questions that have obvious answers. For example, the political correctness, forced multiculturalism, fight against the freedom of speech, and the liquidation of nations and families and common sense and meritocracy are evil trends and every decent person opposes them. However, there are more complicated questions such as the fate of the involvement of the U.S. in some problematic regions and other things. One purpose of democracy is for competing visions to compete. So as expected, e.g. Tulsi Gabbard is the clearest opponent of the continued presence in Syria and Iraq and I think it is one of the questions that should actually be discussed in the 2020 elections. The other Democratic candidates are mostly attacking Trump because that's what they care about but it seems likely that they would continue the hostilities in a very similar way.

Russia as the cause of the Second World War?

Another political topic: a few months ago, the European Parliament adopted a resolution claiming that Nazi Germany and the USSR were 50% shareholders of the joint venture that caused the Second World War. Shockingly enough, even the SPD MEPs that I occasionally voted for supported this crazy resolution. Only the commie Ms Konečná voted against. The Soviets were 50% culprits behind the Second World War because of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

Give me a break, please. That pact was agreed a week or so before Poland was attacked. But at that time, the war was already scheduled. The real decisions were taking place earlier in 1939 and even in 1938. If someone was guilty aside from Germany, it was Britain, France, and Italy who signed the Fall 1938 Munich Treaty. That was a treaty that actually increased the odds of the Second World War greatly. That was the time when such decisions mattered. In Summer 1939, Hitler was already the master of Europe and his attack on Poland was just a formal confirmation of his status in Europe that Britain and France had helped to build for him peacefully.

So I am obviously fully on the Russian side in this discussion. There was probably a good reason why the USSR preferred some non-war at the time when war was already unavoidable. Note that the European Parliament has basically demanded that the EU member states teach this crackpot theory about the "causes of the Second World War" to the kids.

For an example of a similar disagreement where I am on the anti-Russian side, well, let's look at some tension between the Czech president Zeman and the Kremlin. Zeman, often labeled a Russian assets in analogy with Trump, has supported our decision to turn the August 21st, the anniversary of the 1968 Soviet-led occupation, into a memorial day. Someone in the Kremlin said, you would normally think that it was a joke, that such a memorial day would strengthen the Czech-Russian friendship. Sure, the anniversary of an event in which the Russians were the main villains and Czechoslovaks were the main victims.

So they had some further exchanges on whether Czechia is allowed to remind itself of some act by Russia that most Czechs consider evil. Even Zeman's presence at the Victory Parade, 1945-2020, in Moscow is threatened now. You know, I understand that Russians are patriots and they are unsurprisingly aligning their opinions about occupations and similar acts with their patriotism. But you simply cannot expect that a nation with a brain will ever voluntarily celebrate such a celebration that has conserved a dysfunctional social and economic regime for 2 more decades. That just won't happen. If most Russians can't understand why most Czechs consider the 1968 occupation a bad thing, it's unfortunate.

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