It is somewhat oxymoronic that in this period of “peace on earth, good will towards men,” 42-US soldiers have already given their lives this month in the conflict in Iraq, and the leaders of the Arab world have grave concerns any peaceful outcome to the regional conflict is near.
We discussed this morning with Christoph Amberger the stark reality that the United States military complex may have gone after a hornet with a flyswatter in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thousands of tanks, Humvees, personnel carriers and mechanized artillery pieces—vestiges of battle planning from a different era—now await repairs or rebuilds at Army Depots all over the country.
These casualties are the survivors.
There are other, untold hundreds of similar machines that have been immolated by IED’s and artillery hits…and still, the fighting rages on with no resolution near.
The usual players—Ratheon, Northrop-Grumman, General Dynamics, and Stewart & Stevenson, et al, will be kept busy fixing this inventory of The Broken Battalion, either for redeployment by the US Military, or sold off to buyers on the surplus market, only to fight another day under another flag. Even if the U.S. pulls out the majority of combat troops and materiel from Iraq in 2008, the fighting will simply continue on a different scale, under different flags, weapons supplied from different sources.
Saudi King Abdulla told a congress of Gulf Leaders over the weekend that their world is “on the brink of exploding” because of the continuing strains between various factions in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Territories.
He correctly identifies the makings for more war on a broader scale, one that could envelope not just the U.S., but also the U.K., Russia, and the Chinese interests in the region. There is also a real fear that some opportunistic, nouveau head of state could enter the fray in any of the possible theatres of the middle eastern war--not as a problem solver, but a profiteer--leaving the region less stable, less willing, and less able to reconcile with its neighbors.
This inability for the Middle Eastern Hatfield’s and McCoy's to reconcile is a weakness that could be exploited by a more ruthless conqueror, one who recognizes that the only common denominator understood by jihadists is complete annihilation, and willing to accommodate all factions in achieving their martyrdom. In the vacuum that would result, what new leadership might emerge?
Amberger describes the ongoing situation centered in Iraq as the 21st-Century equivalent to the Thirty Years War that engulfed Central Europe. Quoting from one of my favorite resources, Wikipedia:
"The Thirty Years' War was fought between 1618 and 1648, principally on the territory of today's Germany, and involved most of the major European continental powers.
Although it was from the outset a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics, the rivalry between the Habsburg dynasty and other powers was also a central motive, as shown by the fact that Catholic France even supported the Protestant side, increasing France-Habsburg rivalry.
The impact of the Thirty Years' War and related episodes of famine and disease was devastating. The war may have lasted for 30 years, but the conflicts that triggered it continued unresolved for a much longer time.
The Thirty Years' War ended with the Treaty of Westphalia, which also ended the Eighty Years War, and is often cited as the point or origin for modern principles of states’ sovereignty and the fundamental right of political self-determination.
I’ve often wondered what, if directed in a positive fashion, the collective energies being expended in the Middle East for killing cousins, could achieve, if directed for peace, collaborative industry, and mutual assurance of safe, free trade in the region.
Could it ever be possible that with commerce breaking out, instead of killing, the peoples of the region would be kept too busy doing business to build bombs?