If you agree with the conventional wisdom that life is what happens to you while you are making some other plans, you can clearly see like I do that America has her job cut out for her in Iraq as we speak. I have never been more troubled about the quagmire now developing in the Middle East, and the best America could do is the delicate and fragile road map one of the brightest and resilient American Presidents in recent memory could come up with, because there are no easy answers at all to what is currently going on in Iraq if for any number of reasons the Obama new strategy in Iraq falls to work.
We now have a situation in America where the Congress which has the constitutional responsibility to declare war following consultation by the President is today dodging the bullet but encouraging the President to go it alone because it is even more confused than the President about what to do because none of the congressional leaders on both sides of the isle wants their advice to the President placed on permanent record. It does not get any worse for America if you see what I see. A short term limited engagement is what Obama is offering and it is not at all clear at this point if Maliki and his Iranian backers are on board.
The simple explanation for this stalemate or debacle was what my last article was all about. No nation however powerful or rich has a monopoly of wisdom let alone a magic solution to every world problem America alone as wisely admitted by President Obama in his latest press conference does not have the capacity to assume the role of god Atlas which carry on his shoulder the burden of the whole world. That is the plain truth America must confront going forward. America must stop biting more than she can chew in a very complex world. I agree with President Obama that the Iraq war was a dumb war that America should never have waged to begin with, and Republicans like Dick Cheney, John McCain and Lindsey Graham to mention a few who want to shift all the blame to President Obama are being clever by half. There are situations where the best America can do is to lead from behind especially in situations where America’s interest and security are not directly threatened. Americans should thank God today that John McCain lost to Obama in 2008. If McCain or Mitt Romney had won the 2008 and the 2012 elections, there is no telling where America would have been today. It is that simple and scary to say the least.
My initial title for this article was changed at the last minute because I figure it out that the title might be too bitter to swallow for some of the fans of this column who sometimes accuse me of being too pro America with some of my analysis, comments or write-ups. Of course, I love, and appreciate America. I will be the first to admit that as I count my blessings in this country but more so for how America has touched the lives of many nations around the world which often describe America not only as “God’s own country” but as the leader of the Free World and rightly so, if you will set sentiments aside. “Is America better off today than it was under Saddam Hussein?” My answer to that question would have been a resounding “No” because I knew a few things about Iraq under Saddam Hussein that would not have allowed me to say “yes.” President showed a lot of “Chutzpah” yesterday by laying out a ground plan which includes sending a residual force to Iraq short of putting boots on the ground and thereby putting pressure on Nouri Maliki to either see the hand writing on the wall and to beat a retreat or take himself out as Prime Minister and allow somebody else to take over . The bigger problem America fears is what is going to happen to the free flow of oil from that region should Iraq disintegrate into a civil war which will have ramifications for all her neighbors in that region and many of the American allies in the European Union with special emphasis on Great Britain, a traditional ally America has to defend by all means.
Barack Obama has done the best he could do in the scenario he had found himself. We now have a curious situation in Iraq where Maliki is likely to listen more to Iran than taking orders from America because his interest and that of Iran are not fundamentally different right now even though they have been enemies before. We also have a situation as I predicted in my last article where America may now have no other choice than to fight on the same side with Iran for once ever since the fall of Shah Pahlavi. Why? Because not doing so might mean trouble for Jordan, for Turkey and Saudi Arabia which have so far been the traditional allies of America in that region. If the conflagration is not nipped in the bud those countries might have to buckle under pressure. America is getting militarily involved in Iraq again without saying it too loud and may be doing so side by side of course with Iran whose troops are already on the ground in Iraq as we speak. Things have changed dramatically in Iraq from how it was more than 2 years ago when America controlled everything. We now have a situation where America could now be siding with the Shiite to subdue and defeat the Sunnis. The stability in Jordan and Turkey and even in Israel is going to be seriously affected by that development. It is a very delicate and scary situation for America to be in I might add.
Iraqis had to know today they were better off under Saddam Hussein, sad to say. I was for 2 years the Secretary to the Joint Economic Commission of Nigeria with the rest of the world for a short time under a retired Federal Permanent Secretary otherwise known as “Tripple A” Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji and Ogbuefi Gilbert Chikelu in the Nigerian Ministry of Economic Planning. Iraq was to be one of the countries my Commission was hoping to hold some bi-lateral meetings with just like Nigeria did with some of the African countries like Chad, Niger and few others in the West African sub region. I had the privilege of visiting Baghdad a few times at the height of Saddam Hussein’s power and I saw a little bit of how much esteem the guy was held by many of his people if not all of them, even though he belonged to the minority Sunni Sect. The guy managed to hold the country together thru an iron fist, some might argue but Iraq under him was a lot more stable than she is today. I can tell you that Iraq was definitely a force to reckon with in that region if not the whole of the Middle East. Even Saudi Arabia was so scared of Saddam Hussein and so was Iran and most of the major players in that region at the time. Not any more!
Saddam became power-drunk like Adolf Hitler before him who was legitimately elected German leader in 1933 but turned a dictator in less than 5 short years with his ambition to proclaim the Germans as the superior race over and above any other race in the world. That ambition drove him to challenge the whole of Europe into a world war he actually believed he could win before Winston Churchill working in collaboration with FDR and Stalin joined the other European leaders to confront and defeat him and his military in what has now become the epic center of that was in Omaha Beach in Normandy, France some 70 years ago. Saddam Hussein had failed to learn any lesson from Adolf Hitler and he paid with his own life.
He had decided to bite more than he could chew by falling into the trap set for him by the United Kingdom, Tony Blair and the United States George Bush and the so-called coalition of the willing who had earlier on driven him out of Kuwait in the Gulf War. His quick defeat in that was followed by the coup de grace when they built a strong world coalition including many of his Arab neighbors to destroy his county in the Iraq War by disgracing him out of office, and erasing all of the legacies he might have had as the victorious leader of Iraq who actually confronted mighty Iran with some help from America. In the final analysis, Saddam Hussein lost everything and the beautiful country he had led for several decades by doing what Nouri Al Maliki the American-sponsored Prime Minister of Iraq could not do when he chose to lead his majority Shiite sect in a way that totally alienated the Minority Sunni and some elements of the Kurds to the north of Baghdad. It does not bode well for America at all today when more Iraqis now thought they were better off and they enjoyed more peace and stability under Saddam Hussein than they now do under the stability promised them by America.
The ISIS terrorist group, the successor to the Al Qaeda in that region is today taking advantage of the mayhem and the civil war in Syria and part of Lebanon and Iraq to further destabilize the region based on sectarian rivalry and polarization that have existed between the Shiite Muslims, the Sunni and the Kurds for several centuries. It is an instability that may well end the survival of Iraq as a sovereign state and further compound the Palestinian/Israeli conflict that had been a bone of contention since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. How many wars can America fight and sustain. It is a legitimate question to ask?
I have never seen President Obama more subdued but careful and restrained in his answers to all of the questions he was asked as his hastily convened Press Conference yesterday at the White House to try and chart a way forward for America and Iraq in the unfolding crisis in Iraq which could possibly drag America into another protracted civil war in that region for another 10 years or more. Boko Haram is currently tearing Nigeria and the Cameroons apart and America again is expected to intervene there to bring back the Chibok girls and to restore some measure of stability in those countries. There is problem brewing in Libya and even in Egypt, the leading Arab nation that has been a major ally of America since Camp David. The world is in turmoil everywhere you look and Republicans want America to be involved in each theater of war all in the name of being the only super power who can do it. It makes no sense.
The Muslim nations don’t share the American values that Americans are ever so proud to talk about. They regard some of those values as a taboo or abomination to say the least. There are no less than 1.2 billion Muslims around the world that America has to contend with. American would be living in a fool’s paradise to continue to believe they can impose their values on the rest of the world. My hypothesis is that America is spreading her resources too thin by believing or claiming to be the custodian of morality in the world and by wanting to intervene in every major crisis everywhere around the world. America must learn to let go on many of those interventions or involvements to sustain her credibility.
America is weakened and diminished not by Barack Obama as alleged by Dick Cheney and his fellow Republicans. America is diminished and weakened by biting more than it can chew. Period I rest my case.