The United States is not an imperialist nation. If the U.S. were imperialist, the Philippines would be states 49, 50 and 51 (preceding Alaska and Hawaii) and American energy giants would be sucking oil out of the Spratleys like a ravished mosquito on a bare baby's butt.
The U.S. engages in hegemony, which means self-interest backed by power, and harbors no imperialistic ambitions to claim territory. About the only two imperialist nations left in the world are China and Iran.
The U.S. is a thug from time to time. One that believes its principles are better than anyone else's. Sometimes the U.S. gets it wrong.
I have been reading Bob Woodward's tome "State of Denial", which portrays the confusion, conflicting ideas and incompetence that characterized the U.S. engagement in Iraq. The main villain in the book is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who is portrayed as an arrogant, devious control freak who emasculated the generals under his authority and worked at cross purposes to anyone with a different view of what was needed. Rumsfeld wanted to push Iraq immediately into the hands of Iraqis and get out. Never mind that the U.S., with Rumsfeld's concurrence, had stripped Iraq of its mid-level leadership under a wrong-headed de-Baathification strategy.
The Baath party was the party that supported Saddam Hussein. All teachers had to join the party. Military and police leaders were Baathists. The U.S. wanted them unemployed, a kind of vengeful attack on people who did nothing but work within the political reality they faced. These disenfranchised, angry people went forth and formed the insurgency that still exists today, divided into the three main sectarian components of Shiites (majority), Sunni (former leadership) and Kurds (independent Kurdish population). The U.S., blind in its self-confidence, stoked the passions of an emotional people and made a popular enemy where it could have had a friend.
What stuns me as I read the Woodward book is that, indeed, for all the incompetence displayed by U.S. officials in Iraq, and as long as the project took, the strategic aim may be succeeding. The real aim in Iraq was to impose democracy on a nation to show other Middle Eastern countries why it is the way to go. It was more than nation building; it was region-building. The hubbub about weapons of mass destruction was simply a better marketing message to get Americans to buy into the invasion.
Well, Iraq may still fall to sectarian conflict, but it spawned the Arab Spring of 2011. That is a series of Middle Eastern dominoes tipped toward democracy by suppressed religious groups wanting more power. Dictators are out. Democracy with an Islamic core is in.
Call it a delayed victory for President Bush, or an accidental outcome . . . and an amusing one where the U.S. by its commitment to democracy is now forced to support people who seem easily inclined to shout "Death to America".
But that is just backdrop to the issue I want to raise.
The U.S. knows that Iran supplied weapons and knowledge to insurgents who killed Americans in Iraq. The U.S. had to suppress information and fail to act on this knowledge . . . Iran engaging in acts of war against American troops . . . because Iraq was such a mess. The military and the public were pushed too far with a grossly mismanaged war that failed to consider how things would be run once the Iraq military was defeated.
Now, 10 years later, the U.S. has finally pushed Iraq off onto Iraqis.
Animosity toward Iran runs deep among U.S. military chiefs and intelligence agencies. Iranians (the leaders, not the people) are the killers of Americans, left unpunished.
If ever writing were etched clearly on a wall, it is the statement made over and over again by top American military and civilian leadership: Iran will never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon. This anger underpins Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's direct warnings to Iran. Don't test us.
I suspect that Iranian leaders, following the model of thugs who justify themselves with every criticism, are out of touch with the reality of the road they are headed down. You see the blindness represented by bluster, the need to take affront, the endless macho posturing. And belligerent acts. They don't care if Iranians are killed; they possess a warped idea of what security means. They hold to the royal ignorance of Hussein, Kadafhi, bin Laden and Assad, that they are beyond reach.
If Iran continues to push down the confrontational, meddling, belligerent path, Israel, which is more sensitive even than a very angry United States, may attack. The U.S. would not hold them back, and would join if joining were necessary to overthrow Iran.
So here is where I am going with this.
I am guessing . . . no, no; I am deducing . . . that Iran will be a democracy in 2022. Because Iran keeps pushing where it really ought not. It keeps meddling offensively in ways that it ought not. And by 2032, the bubbling caldron that is the Middle East today will have settled down to a low boil. Most of the Middle East will be generating wealth and moving on . . . Yes, even Israel and Palestine.
The U.S. is a powerful hegemonistic beast, not unwilling to use its power against nations deemed hostile. In an era of missiles and nukes and people crazy enough to use them, the tolerance is low, indeed.
Continuing our mystery-solving prowess displayed in a prior blog, let's line up the clues:
Clue A: the U.S. economy is improving. Clue B: Iran proceeds on an incredibly arrogant path, offending many rational Middle Eastern nations whose leaders don't appreciate the destabilizing influence on their own populations. Clue C: Americans detest the Iranian leadership; more than they did Saddam Hussein. Clue D: many Iranians work and thrive in the U.S. and many Iranians in Iran are schooled and aware of Western lifestyles; these are not wild-eyed tribal warriors, they are a suppressed modern people and they understand what the Arab Spring is about.
Deductive reasoning: the trend line suggests continued isolation of Iran as a precursor to armed overthrow, supported by outside and inside Iranian groups who will put together a democratic government. Not even China or Russia will mind that much. They, too, prefer a stable Middle East.