“Evil Empire”

Reagan called the Soviet Union the “evil empire”. But if you look at the international relations of the United States in the last 70 years, the litany of terrible outcomes and consequences is almost breathtaking — Vietnam, El Salvador, regime change in Iran, second Iraq war, Afghanistan. I’m sure this short list is missing other significant fiascos. So the bottom line might indeed be that today’s “evil empire” is not them but us — we are the evil empire!

At the very least, I think it is time that the United States government seriously reevaluate its goals relative to international affairs, and make the key objectives not exploiting weaknesses of other countries for some illusory gains for the US, but instead rectifying potential areas of conflict between nations so that peace and prosperity world-wide are assured.

Instead of jockeying for some questionable advantages, a more high-minded diplomacy on the part of the US would be, for instance, to seek ways to peacefully unravel the conflict between North Korea and South Korea so that that potentially explosive issue just melts away. Ditto the issue of China and Taiwan. Not gain specious advantage from these situations but actually solve them so they go away.

Wouldn’t it be a huge sea change if US foreign policy were to pursue goals that were on the side of the angels rather than policies that, in the last 70 years, have led inevitably to the death of millions, devastation of whole nations, and terrible unintended consequences — the heritage of our evil empire.

So this brings us to the present moment and the Ukrainian situation, which isn’t fundamentally about Ukraine at all, but instead the uneasy relationship between an expanding NATO and a Russia with security concerns, having been invaded by Europe twice in history.

A high-minded diplomacy on the part of the US would have the US seek to bring these two parties together to work out an agreement that would leave both feeling secure and respected, so that the world could breathe easier and enjoy peace and prosperity.

But what has the US done instead? It has elected to exploit the Ukrainian situation in a proxy war to debilitate its supposed enemy Russia. The end result is not hard to see. Ukraine will be decimated, many there will die, and the relationship between NATO and Russia will deteriorate, perhaps to the breaking point, with the specter of nuclear war rising up once again.

All of this because the cognoscenti in the US see Russia as the enemy, even though, around the world, there are actually very few points of direct contention between the United States and Russia — the Arctic region being the conspicuous exception. That this is so is probably a consequence of geography, as the two countries are, after all, on opposite sides of the globe. And there are many similarities between the two countries — both are threatened by Muslim extremists, both are principally Christian, both are ostensibly democratic, with elections, both are capitalist.

Yet we are led to believe by our leaders in the US that Russia is the enemy. Why? And what will be the net result, but another decimated country called Ukraine, decimated as much by the narrow-minded and short-sighted diplomacy of the United States as by Russia.

Add yet another country to the list of countries victimized by the current evil empire, the United States.

Nuclear Umbrella 

Iraq — Our Three Stooges War

During the 1980’s, Iraq and Iran were at war with each other.   Sunni-led Iraq was fighting against Shiite Iran, so that the war had a sectarian character.  The war was fought to a stalemate, and so, ironically, established a clear balance of power between the Sunni countries and the Shiite countries, as neither Iraq nor Iran could make any territorial gains, so that purely sectarian aggression in the Middle East was held in check pretty much throughout the 90’s.

The Iraq War that began in 2003 undermined that precious balance of power.  We went to war to prevent Saddam Hussein from using “weapons of mass destruction,” even though he had none, and to remove him  as an ally of Al-Qaeda, even though he wasn’t one.  But what we did remove was a regime ruled by the Sunnis in Iraq, and replaced it with one ruled by Iraqi Shiites.  The net result was that Iraq invariably fell under the sphere of influence of Iran, as both countries were now  allies as ruled by the same Islamic sect — in essence, Iran ultimately won the 1980’s war without having to fire a shot due to our foolhardy invasion of Iraq.

And without the balance of power represented by the Sunni-led Iraq under Saddam, Iran has extended its hegemony in the region as an ally of Assad in Syria and in support of the powerful Hezbollah party in Lebanon, so that its sphere of influence now extends from its own eastern border all the way to the Mediterranean.  That has been one unfortunate result of our Iraq War.  How did that serve the interest of the United States?

The other unfortunate result has been to launch sectarian civil war throughout the region.  Saddam had kept a lid on the violent sectarianism that stewed in Iraq under a seemingly tranquil surface.  That was in fact his mandate for governing — his raison d’etat — to maintain a strictly Sunni government that would hold in check the Shia and Kurdish segments of the country.  By removing Saddam, we removed that check on the violent sectarianism that seethed just below the surface between the Iraqi Sunnis and the Iraqi Shiites.

But the Sunnis that we displaced in Iraq were not going to be subjugated by Shiites without a fight, and so our displacement of the Sunni-led government of Saddam as well as the disenfranchisement of his Sunni-oriented military led inevitably to the spawning of Sunni extremist groups and civil war first in Iraq, but ultimately with ISIS in both Iraq and Syria — yet another unanticipated consequence of our ill-considered invasion of Iraq.  How did that serve the interest of the United States?

So our Iraq War produced results directly opposite of our interests — creating a much stronger Iran regionally and unleashing an ongoing sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shiite throughout the entire Middle East that had once been held in check by the stalemate from the Iraq/Iran conflict in the 1980’s.   The conclusion is undeniable: We blunder into stupid wars and have no idea of the consequences, not unlike the buffoonish and clumsy behavior of the Three Stooges.

Iraq War


The Three Stooges

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