Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Richard Cohen Neoconning On Iraq (Again)

The drumbeat of old neocons neoconning again in the face of the victories by ISIS/ISIL in Iraq.  It is Richard Cohen's turn today to bloviate on the ed pages of WaPo, "A do-nothing disaster."  Yeah, looks pretty bad for  Barack, all those ISIS/ISIL forces swarming all over Iraq.  Obviously he could have and should have stopped it.

Two points, beyond noting that Cohen was quicker than many of those supporting the Iraq war to realize it was a big mistake.

1)  On chemical weapons in Syria, Cohen says, "He wanted Bashar al-Assad to cease using chemical weapons.  His language was strong, nearly warlike... What happened next?  Virtually nothing."  Really?  Because in his final paragraph he says, "Obama settled for a victory jog around the political infield after getting Assad to give up most of his chemical weapons."  This is "virtually nothing"?  Cohen does not even seem to proofread what he writes before sending it out.

2)  And, of course, we have "A civil war that might have been stopped in its tracks was allowed to fester.  The Syrian dictatorship survived, and the war spilled over into Iraq."  Unfortunately Cohen never says how this might have been achieved.  The favorite explanation of most neocons, and he does  not even bother bringing it up as did Fred Hiatt yesterday, would have been to have provided heavier arms to the "moderate opposition."  But as those who have looked at it really closely realize, including apparently Obama's advisers, it was clear  from early on that they were never strong enough to defeat either the Islamist radicals or the Assad  regime, with it more likely that those heavy arms would have ended up in the hands of ISIS/ISIL.  But Cohen does not bother addressing that, indeed, does not even attempt to say how Obama might have achieved the stopping in its tracks of the civil war, which all of us would have welcomed (hint: maybe by having supported Assad, despite his awfulness).

Barkley Rosser


Myrtle Blackwood said...

Re: "But Cohen does not ... even attempt to say how Obama might have achieved the stopping in its tracks of the civil war.."

Well, I'd like to hear from anyone who might want to hazard a guess about how to stop Syria's civil war.

I prepared to hazard a guess about how a civil war might have been prevented, however. If nations like Syria, Egypt, Yemen Tunisia, Greece, Spain and Portugal had:
* kept their populations stable (from as far back as 1960),
*concentrated on energy and water conservation initiatives,
*de-urbanised, and
*created dispersed and local forms of manufacturing and subsistence

then, they may not now be facing such a dramatic decline.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Maybe, Myrtle, maybe. But if all this was done by a non-democratic government run by a single family from the Alawi minority named al-Assad, with a dying father passing power onto a son, who had the record of having suppressed an uprising by majority Sunnis in Homs 30 years ago by killing 30,000 people, maybe not.

Myrtle Blackwood said...

In a May 1993 article written in National Geographic on the looming Middle East water crisis there is mention of Syria's need to expand agriculture by a million more acres. The Euphrates dam is to irrigate more arid eastern steppes land. "There is no other choice," says Syria's director of international waters, Majed Daoud. "We will have 25 million people by 2010, and these people will need food."

Syria's population in 1993 was about 14 million.

Since then there has drought and loss of snow pack in the mountains to the north. Both the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers are drying up. As bad as the water loss that results from this Turkey recently cut off water flows to Syria and Iraq from these two rivers.

Turkey's south eastern Anatolia project (22 dams and 19 power plants, as of 1993) has resulted in massively reduced flows to Syria (and Iraq). Syria cannot generate enough electricity from its hydro dam. "There has never been enough water for them all."

between 2003 and 2009 ….the Tigris-Euphrates Basin—comprising Turkey, Syria, Iraq and western Iran—lost water faster than any other place in the world except northern India.

Many farmers have been forced to abandon their fields. They've migrated to urban centres raising the unemployment numbers and the general discontent and anger.

Is a Lack of Water to Blame for the Conflict in Syria?
A 2006 drought pushed Syrian farmers to migrate to urban centers, setting the stage for massive uprisings
By Joshua Hammer
Smithsonian Magazine June 2013
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/is-a-lack-of-water-to-blame-for-the-conflict-in-syria-72513729/#3o4fboIMA1Ematrx.99