Oil Follies – and a Gentle Suggestion
posted at 2:26 pm on December 18, 2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh
Today, Iran sent troops into Iraqi territory and seized one of Iraq’s oil wells.
This is nothing new; it evidently happens several times every year:
The field is about 500 metres (yards) from an Iranian border fort and about 1 kilometre from an Iraqi border fort, US Colonel Peter Newell said, adding that it falls on the Iraqi side of a border agreed between the two countries.
There are five other similar fields that also fall into disputed territory, he said. [The territory is only "disputed" because Iran covets it. -- DaH]
“What happens is, periodically, about every three or four months, the oil ministry guys from Iraq will go … to fix something or do some maintenance. They’ll paint it in Iraqi colours and throw an Iraqi flag up.
“They’ll hang out there for a while, until they get tired, and as soon as they go away, the Iranians come down the hill and paint it Iranian colours and raise an Iranian flag. It happened about three months ago and it will probably happen again.”
In keeping with the absurdity of Obamunism, everyone — Americans and Iraqis alike — is desperate for a “diplomatic” solution:
“There has been no violence related to this incident and we trust this will be resolved through peaceful diplomacy between the governments of Iraq and Iran,” a US military spokesman told AFP at Contingency Operating Base Adder, just outside the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.
“The oil field is in disputed territory in between Iranian and Iraqi border forts,” he said, adding that such incidents occur quite frequently.
To which I respond, “Well there’s yer problem right there!”
Nations always have disputes between them… but territorial integrity is the first and most basic component of sovereignty: If a country cannot hang onto its own territory, it may as well hang it up; it’s not really a nation.
(And before anyone starts shouting about immigration, yes I believe that a country must be able to control who crosses its borders; but no, we are not being “invaded” by Mexicans. Immigrants are not invaders; they’re guests. They may be unwelcome and unwanted guests, but that doesn’t make families the equivalent of heavily armed Iranian soldiers.)
Iraq has been entirely too complacent for entirely too long about so-called “disputed” territory; worse, this lackadaisical attitude, in the Age of Barack H. Obama, has even infected the American military forces in Iraq. This is unacceptable; it’s primitivism. And rather than enable it, we should help the Iraqis stamp it out and shift to a modernist conception of sovereign territory.
(The same could be said, by the way, about Japan’s complacency when South Korea declares the island of Takeshima part of the Republic of Korea, or when Russia plants its flag on the four disputed islands in the Kuril Island chain, in violation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951.)
So I have a suggestion; it should be familiar to our Commander in Chief, coming from Chicago… but it appears he has never heard of such a thing, so I’ll enlighten him:
- For right now, send a combined U.S. and Iraqi force into the area; the Iranians will amble on out, smirking. We linger at the border for a few weeks, then withdraw. (This step is necessary to feign weakness and set the Iranians up for step 3.)
- Inform Iran that this is the last time they will enter the Abu Gharb oil field, the Iraqi side of the al-Fakkah field, or any other Iraqi oil field… but don’t tell them what will happen if they do. We keep troops fairly nearby but not close enough to keep the Iranians from doing what comes naturally.
- Within a few months, Iran will do it again; we know they will, because we deliberately signalled weakness with step 1. This is the trigger for which we will be waiting: Our troops move into the region; the Iranians withdraw. But instead of stopping at the border, American troops move into Iranian territory, seize some of their oil wells (on the pretext that they are “disputed territory”)… and sit on them.
- We invite Iraqi oil workers in to start pumping the oil from these wells and driving it back to Iraq. The idea is not just to chase Iran out of Iraq but to force them to serve penance for their sins.
- We hold the wells for six months; then we tell Iran that this seizure was their one warning: The next time Iran invades any portion of Iraq, these wells and unspecified other assets will be annexed to Iraq… permanently.
If we are to introduce Iraq into the community of civilized nations, we must first induce them to break from their bad, old Arab traditions that turn nationalism on its head and keep them a backwards, “third world” nation with a few trappings of modernity. Until they think of themselves as a sovereign nation, nationalism will never trump tribalism.
Such a jump is impossible in Afghanistan, at least anytime in the forseeable future; all we can do there is maintain a more or less “tribal-democratic” government (where each tribe gets a vote — in the form of each person voting) and keep the Taliban and their ilk out of power. But Iraq can be so much more; they can be a powerful American ally in the Middle East into the future. But we must encourage them to stop thinking like their neighbors and start thinking like us.
We cannot allow them to revert to their former ways; the danger to the United States would be dire.
Alas, this is all fantasy: Barack Obama cannot “feign” weakness because he is weak, and only the strong dare such pretense to draw an attack — an expected attack — and turn it back on the enemy. Perhaps someday Iran will school Obama on what it means to act from strength, not submission.
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…
Recently in the Green Room: