Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Two Shots in the Foot and Four More Rounds in the Chamber

You wonder why I drone on about rule of law?

Ukraine is vulnerable to Russian subversion (and conquest, in the case of Crimea) because of corruption:

As Ukraine's tax chief tells it, the billion-dollar theft was planned at a see-through plastic table in a vault of sound-proof steel. ...

It was the epicenter, he and other tax officials say, of a massive fraud suspected of squeezing 130 billion hryvnias ($11 billion) from Kiev's coffers over the past three years — an amount equal to more than half a year's tax revenue for the entire country.

That's a lot of lost money that could have bolstered the military and eased ethnic divisions--as well as built more trust in institutions.

And Iraq's loss of Mosul and the general problem of advancing jihadis is traceable to corruption:

The government defeat in Mosul was caused by a combination of corruption (leading to poor leadership and morale in the army and police) and years of Islamic terrorism in Mosul directed at the security forces. Without the crippling effects of corruption the army and police would still be in control.

As an interesting sidebar, if the Kurds drive out al Qaeda from Mosul, will they let the Iraqi army back in? Ah, now we're having fun.

I will never forgive the Obama administration for inexcusably refusing to stay in Iraq and help fight corruption so the Iraqi security forces--with our logistics, intelligence, and firepower support--could keep al Qaeda beaten down and hold Sunni and Shia sectarian urges in check.

And then the Obama administration refused to arm early opposition to Assad, allowing jihadis to thrive in Syria and blowback into Iraq to make matters worse. If Syria hadn't become a jihadi magnet, perhaps Iraq would have coped even without our sizable presence (25,000 troops) that I wanted after 2011.

I swear to God, if President Obama had been in office in the late 1940s, he would have "responsibly ended" World War II and by the early 1950s, neo-Nazis would have run Germany, neo-Fascists would have run Italy, and neo-militarists under a revived emperor would have run Japan.

And our president would have blamed Truman for the problems.

I'm reasonably sure our administration can turn two ef ups into one big Middle Eastern Clusterf**k if it tries a bit harder.

UPDATE: Oh, I should make clear that I'm not blaming the Obama administration for Ukraine's corruption. I'm actually talking about walking away from Iraq, making them less able to cope; and then adding to what Iraq has to cope with by watching Syria become a problem that affected Iraq, too.

And talk of working with Iran, of all nutball states, to "solve" the Iraq crisis would be a couple more shots in our foot, at least.