For instance: Just who won this war, anyway?
For more than two millennia, the Persians and Babylonians have been at each other’s throats over ethnic divisions, water rights to the Euphrates and Tigris and control of the trade routes to the area’s riches. The most recent outbreak of this enmity occurred in the 1980s when Saddam Hussein, encouraged by the Ronald Reagan’s administration and the CIA, took after Tehran, ostensibly to establish the border in the middle of the river rather than on the Arab banks. Since oil refining and extended shipping piers were at stake, the issue was important enough to fight over, but most observers considered that Saddam was doing the dirty work of America against the hated Mullahs of Iran who had insulted us by holding our embassy hostage to cripple the Carter re-election and deliver the white house to Death Valley Ron.
That war surpassed any recent conflict for savagery, destroying an entire generation of teenage warriors in the mine fields and marshes of the Mesopotamian lowlands. Twelve-year-olds with only sticks for weapons were marched into artillery barrages and minefields where they died by the thousands in what eventually became a stalemate, resulting in a cease-fire but no peace agreement of significance. While both sides suffered, the Tehran mullahs distilled their rage into a variety of covert tactics, even approaching the CIA-backed Iraqi resistance against Hussein’s regime.
In the aftermath of the Kuwait war, American neo-conservatives began plotting their global strategy for control of the energy supply world wide, the first step of which called for the conquest of Iraq. The neo-cons shopped the idea to Bush 41, who rejected it as fantasy, as did Bill Clinton in the mid-’90s. We may assume the Iranian intel services heard rumors of the plan and saw at least an opportunity to make trouble between two of their hated enemies.
Enter Ahmed Challaby, a profiteering entrepreneur in the oil and banking game throughout the region and a Shiite with solid connections in Tehran. Challaby became the leader of an exile group called the Iraqi National Congress, which soon became our primary intel asset inside the post-war wreck of Iraq, sending back reports to Washington and launching aborted attempts to assassinate Saddam or stage a military coup. At some point after the Bush election brought the neo-cons to power, Challaby began to supply exaggerated tales of “weapons of mass destruction,” nuclear labs and impending threats to the U.S. from high zoot missiles being developed in secret. At the same time, it is now known, he supplied important American secrets to the Tehran government, suggesting his true loyalties.
When Bush and his attack-dog advisors used Challaby’s info to justify a preemptive attack, trapping us in the morass of military occupation while ousting the Bathist regime, the Tehran Ayatollahs broke out the celebratory mint tea or whatever passes for champagne in the Muslim culture. Their enemies were killing each other in minimal but significant numbers. Saddam was gone and the U.S. was roundly disliked throughout the international community for its imperialist plans while millions of Muslims became terrorist recruits around the world.
Keeping score, America loses both face and lives, not to mention billions of dollars. The Iraqis are no longer a threat to the Persians, and Iran is now the most powerful regime in the region. Despite threats from Israel and the U.S., Iran and its nuclear programs are now accepted by the U.N. and most of the rest of the world, and a modernization seems possible in the wake of recent election protests and the repression of the Abnadinajad regime.
All of which should serve as reminder that history is often a tale of failed winners and unintended consequences.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. "The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.