T Nation

History...and Time


#1

I often find myself writing “History will bear this all out…”

By poster’s reaction’s…I think that they believe that I believe History will always prove some action that they have been critical of as “right”…

That is neither true…nor my intent.

Time and History may prove that an action or series of events is 1) as wrong as people thought 2) correct (because with time we learn the reasons WHY a course of action was taken…or 3) as with some events in History, remain muddled in controversy.

Why do I write this?

Too often I look at people’s responses and supporting “fact’s”; especially as it relates to some action taken in the Middle East by this Administration; to be very “one-sided”. In other words; it’s one thing to be critical of a decision; it’s quite another to study and analyse why a decision was made beyond the rhetoric of the critic.

I firmly believe that the Middle East is “resetting” to tribal and religious norms after people with centuries-old hatreds were artificially placed into “countries” and regions after both World Wars and by the Soviet “Union”.

I don’t think that ANY President can fix that, despite the level of Firepower at his (or her…sorry PWI! but it’s possible, I guess!) at their disposal.

History will bear out if this is true or not…


#2

Well, we know that Obama can’t that’s for certain. :grinning:


#3

…and CERTAINLY not Reagan either!


#4

Well Ghdafi, of Libya, didn’t give us any more trouble after Reagan had his home bombed killing some of his family and crippling him for a couple of years. And speaking of Libya Hillary Clinton sure made a mess of Benghazi huh?

Oh that’s right Hillary and Barry can do no wrong in your eyes…sorry I brought it up.


#5

There you go again, Zeb…

Attributing things to me that I never said nor even insinuated…

After all this time, I guess I should have expected it.


#6

I feel a personal connection to your OP. :slight_smile:

Obviously, history is often 20/ 20.
And to be honest, Mufasa, I want to be wrong. Because the implications of me being wrong is that the Country and the World is in far better shape then I thought.

The problem is, is that recent history too often proves me right.

Just the whole Syrian ‘red line’ thing is proof.
What is the point of removing Assad’s chemical weapons program if not to prevent Assad from using chemical weapons?

Our response or lack thereof did get rid of some bad nasty chemicals out of Syria which is a good thing. But in the end it did not achieve the desired results, because the Assad regime not only has continued to use chemical weapons on his people, but his cooperation with Russia has created a proxy war between Western forces and now Russia, China and Iran. So the stakes of anti-Assad action is drastically higher then it was at the time of the ‘red line’.

It may very well come to a situation where we can dispose of ISIS, but Assad is going to stay put. Because now, to fight Assad is to fight Russia, where as that was not the case at the time of the red line. Russia supported Assad, but they did not have skin in the game at that time. Now they do.

History will indeed as always be the judge and I will take being wrong about this situition as a victory. I am not obsessed with being right. I just call things as I see them. And what I see in the situation of Syria as a colossal error and misreading calculation, from the JV team incident, to the red line to the worst humanitarian crisis since WW2.

Maybe decisive military action, wouldn’t have changed much, depending on their commitment to it, regarding what has ultimately happened. On the other hand, it could have made all the difference.

Any question, regarding what a ‘change in calculus’ actually meant should be squashed by now. The first link I provided in the ‘Iran’ thread, proves beyond the shadow of a doubt the response was to be military. They had the targets and the entire military planned to strike Syria. Approximately 12 hours before it was launched, Obama pulled the plug. The ‘calculus’ was military action, beyond the shadow of any doubt based on the facts.

In short, Mufasa, I hope you are right and I am wrong. But I don’t think I will be. And it’s not because I want to be right.


#7

Are you having memory problems?

Let me give you a refresh.

I accused Obama of being the worst modern President in history. I then rattled off a very long list of things that he has screwed up, or not done that he should have.

You then said something on the order that you thought he was a good President. I then asked you back that up which of course you refused to even try.

Therefore, a fair conclusion to draw is that you are definitely think Obama is a stupendous President.

And quite honestly as a side note I’ve asked people both online and in person who support him what he has done that would give them the idea he did a good job and they say the same thing you do…total silence.

He’s a bum.

Over to you …


#8

Great post, Pat.

I take the position that when you talk about the Middle East…decisions made by the Administration are neither “right” nor “wrong”…but more along the lines of being “less-wrong” or are choices made when ALL choices are bad.

When it comes to the Middle East you almost have to.

It’s mainly because it has been proven over and over and over again in the Middle East…you tie off one bleeding artery and it opens up 6 more…

That is why I REALLY get angry at all these arm-chair ex-generals and retired “security analyst and experts” who know this as well as I do. (Even though I think some like Gates are little more “even-handed”…and people like Bolton should just shut up…)

The Middle East is a messy place that does not have answers as simple as those given in an Op-Ed or on some Partisan Website.


#9

Zeb; I’ll post exactly what I posted on another thread…and leave it at that…

I’m pretty clear when I say the President has made some mistakes (like ALL President’s do…even my favorite Washington… and even your beloved Reagan…)

But overall, I think the President has navigated some pretty treacherous waters fairly well…and kept a pretty level head while doing it.

He certainly has proven himself to be a man with greater patience and understanding than I would have ever had…


#10

Please name them.

Thank you


#11

Zeb:

The very fact that you have found NOTHING that the President has done right…nor choose to even entertain the idea that he has…tells me that I would be wasting both time and effort posting thoughts for you to merely piss on.

No thanks.


#12

I think we need to get over the idea that we have any “friends” in the Middle East. We only have allies who use us for their own purposes and help us only enough to get what they want. Right now Turkey, who is our ally against Russia, moved into Syria, but they are doing as much damage, if not more, to our Kurdish allies as to our ISIS enemies because the Kurds in Turkey would like to be a part of a Kurdish state which would include parts of Syria and Iraq.

“Peace efforts” in the Middle East are a waste of time until they realize religion isn’t worth fighting over. There have been times when Islamic theologians had more liberal, peaceful interpretation of the Koran, but then the Mongolians, Crusaders, or the British Empire would come in and they would rally around the Koran for unity against invaders. Karen Armstrong argued in her book “The Crown and the Koran” that the Middle East won’t realize the Sunni v Shiite conflicts are a bad until they have their own version of our “Thirty Years War,” which taught the Protestant and Catholic rulers not to fight over religion.


#13

He got Bin Laden!!!


#14

Agree, paules…and this fits right along with what I’ve been trying to say all along.

When some blow-hard “expert” like Bolton;(I have no idea why; but that guy REALLY grates me…like the proverbial fingernails-on-the-chalkboard…) gets on TV, and rattles off all the “wrong” decisions made…and we should have done this or done that)…he seems to never take into account 1) that just opens up about 6 more problems; or the one that I often find lacking 2) THEN what?

At this point; I am fairly confident that when someone has a “Shoulda’-coulda’-easy-answer” with a problem in the Middle East, that they don’t have ANY idea what the hell they are talking about.


#15

What groups do you see the people realigning to? Do you mean like Persians, Assyrians, or something more recent? I found Loppar’s Fertile Crescent post interesting.


#16

Well, you make some got points in terms of observable consequentialism from the perspective of what you see at the time.
But I am a simpleton in these matters. What appears obvious in the case is the case.

What is also true, is if the administration had taken the action I believe they should have, we do not know if anything would be better. I think it would be at least a little better, but I don’t know it for a fact.
I do think if you draw a line you act on it or don’t draw it. Nothing good can happen for drawing a line and not acting decisively and very visibly on it.
It’s better not to draw a line, you have options with out putting your credibility on the line…


#17

Other than Israel, I totally agree. Arab or Persian, Sunni or Shia, we are number 2 on their hate scale. The only thing American they like is our money and weapons. Which they will turn on us at the first opportune moment.


#18

Hmmm, I am not sure about that. Some problems that may on their face look complicated, may in fact be simple.
Then again, they could be as complicated as they seem. Depends on the situation. However, I don’t think you always have to have the next 6 moves on the chess board. In as much as one wrong move can screw things up, on right one can measurably change things for the better.

The biggest mis take I feel we have made in general is acting in fear. We should never be afraid to do the right thing.


#19

There is the Sunni v Shiite competition that cuts the Middle East in half. One of the ironies of our invasion of Iraq is that it was a Shiite country ruled by Sunni minority within the structure of a secular government; turning Iraq into a “democracy” would eventually mean a country leaning towards Iran (who is usually our enemy) against Saudi Arabia (with friends like these…). The Persians/Iranians do see themselves as culturally distinct from Arabs or Turks, and the Kurds (the most famous of them being Saladin) are a long suffering minority group.

It’s hard to say how the Middle East would naturally divide up/align with because it has been so long since self-determination was possible. The Ottomans gathered it all in, the British and French divided it up between themselves, then the Soviets and Americans used them as pawns in the Cold War chess game.


#20

American grand strategy must be guided by a balance of interests and values. What is “right” is not always prudent, and what is prudent is not always “right”.