If Joe Biden Calls, You Should Duck or Flee

If Joe Biden Calls, You Should Duck or FleeIf Joe Biden Calls, You Should Duck or Flee

If I were Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, I’d be slightly worried that I received a phone call from US Vice President Joe Biden Monday assuring him of continued and enhanced American military support and coordination to combat the Islamic State militant group.

Last week, IS made some dramatic gains by taking over the provincial town of Ramadi without much of a fight from assorted Iraqi official and militia forces or supporting air power from Arab and foreign countries.

Also worried should be the people of Iraq and of many Arab countries, because the combination of Arab and western military forces fighting against IS seems to have produced limited results in the past year since IS started to seriously expand from its northern Syria heartland, Rami G. Khouri wrote for Agence Global.

IS today is among, if not, the fastest growing political movement in the Arab world. It is still expanding in parts of Iraq-Syria, and picking up adherent small movements in other Arab and a few non-Arab countries. How is this possible after 12 years of non-stop American-led warfare, military training, democracy promotion, and state-building in Iraq?

  Menaced by Militants

Understanding the answers to that question strikes me as an urgent task for all Arab citizens and leaders, who are either directly menaced by IS and Al-Qaeda, or potentially threatened by them.

I say this because so many tens of millions of disgruntled, discarded, disposable Arabs who have not found life, identity, dignity, justice or hope in their failed status as citizens now could play their last desperate card of joining IS, or simply waving its flag in defiance, as a tortured protest of their demeaned condition. Only some thousands here and there have done this to date.

But tens of millions are potential candidates to do this, if conditions in the Arab region remain the same, which seems to be the case.

The combination of American and Arab armies in action in recent years has not been very impressive or reassuring for ordinary Arab men and women who dearly seek to live a normal, plain, unexceptional life, a life that is not dominated by local and foreign attacks, terrorism, mass refugee flows, imploding governments, weakened economies, heightened sectarian violence, ethnic cleansing, endemic corruption, public decapitations and flogging, and, now, the emergence of IS and other extreme movements like it.

So if your secretary tells you that Joe Biden is on the phone line, and you live anywhere between Morocco and Bangladesh, you might do well to make sure you have an emergency travel bag packed.

I say this because the likelihood of your having to flee your hometown in haste soon is much higher than it is for citizens in those little towns in Iowa and New Hampshire where American presidential candidates these days speak mostly gibberish about American foreign policy in the Middle East, whose consequences speak loudly in Ramadi this week.

  Trillions Spent, Thousands Dead

The US has spent trillions of dollars since 2003 and lost thousands dead and tens of thousands injured, first by invading and effectively destroying the Iraqi state that had functioned for much of the previous century; then by feverishly and, it turns out, amateurishly training and equipping a new Iraqi army to replace the one it dismantled in 2003 by the order of a real life comic strip character named Paul Bremer who administered the shattered country using the same strategic calculus as he would use to lay out a new golf course in suburban Dallas.

And now by resuming military action in the form of more training and equipping schemes, alongside aerial attacks against IS positions. For what? By whose mandate? Perhaps this is why IS is the fastest growing political brand in the Arab region.

Iraqis themselves also have paid a high price in hundreds of thousands of their citizens who died at the hands of several killers, including invading Anglo-American forces, other Iraqis (including state forces in some cases) motivated by ugly sectarian violence, and nowadays by IS and similar militant Sunni purveyors of death and the destruction of longstanding Iraqi societies.

  Iraqi-American Joint Venture

Corrupt and dysfunctional Iraqi governance and ineffective armed forces in the wake of the 2003 Anglo-American invasion is a 50-50 joint venture of Iraqis and Americans working together to provide one of modern history’s most vivid examples of what statecraft should avoid at all cost.

It should avoid local dictatorships supported by foreign powers, as was Saddam Hussein’s cruel and vicious Baathist endeavor for years, followed by those same foreign powers attacking and dismantling the same local country, followed by both hapless parties trying to patch the country back together again with hare-brained schemes concocted by ignorant and totally unaccountable throwback colonial-style administrators.

So I would find a desk to hide under, or a nearby ferryboat to India or Greece, if Joe Biden calls soon. Much healthier for Arabs and Americans alike would be to stop repeating the catastrophic policies of using Popeye-style force to resolve local tensions whose only resolution across all of Earth has always resided in the reality of ordinary, satisfied citizens who are treated decently by their own authorities and foreign powers alike.