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(In addition to having been a brutal dictatorship — one that stooped so low as to rob children of food to fund the building of palaces — and state sponsor of terrorism, Hussein’s Iraq had related to the Soviet through the Baath Party and Pan-Arab Nationalism. The dissolving of the Soviet — a murderous system of Party patronage and privilege — may have set up client states for regime change in some form. The Cold War label is well known but 25 years after is was over, it may be regarded as ancient history on campus when in fact it continues to resonate in foreign affairs. Recommended reading for any who may wish to catch up with the near past: https://www.amazon.com/Cold-War-New-History/dp/0143038273.

I feel strongly that citizens of open democracies should be familiar with how the Soviet worked to disinform “the masses” and abuse, manipulate, meddle, misguide, and, in a sense, master others, including Muslims, in the Party’s ambition to impose its will on the world. https://conflict-backchannels.com/library/russian-section/ & a contemporary analysis of one facet of Russian manipulation and control in “information space” — http://cimsec.org/cutting-fog-reflexive-control-russian-stratcom-ukraine/20156

Because international affairs are complex in their history and political science and because popular media, from early broadsheets and flyers to this day’s immense array of online information, reduced the image of issues — like “regime change in Iraq” — the on-campus and public perceptions of many conflicts have been crude compared with the knowledge of nonpartisan academics and professional analysts in government and research. I try with Back-Channels, my blog, to bridge that gap while continuing to educate myself in these areas.

Whether Iraq or Vietnam, the free publics of the open democracies — not subject to state-controlled press — should be able to “see” — interpret and perceive — the Cold War, Vietnam, and Iraq and other struggles with much, much greater accuracy. I’ve had some personal leisure and the ability to purchase used books on Amazon, and the experience has shifted my views toward the conservative center).

The passage was written as an aside within a thread focusing on America’s new Muslim war hero Humayun Khan, a casualty of the war in Iraq, and the Muslim world’s view of American intercession as an invader.  Conservative Australian politician Sherry Sufi — Policy Chairman, Liberal Party of Australia — posed the question this way:

Muslims view George W Bush’s Iraq War as a foreign invasion to usurp the nation’s oil under the pretence of neutralising Saddam’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction. I’m curious about Muslims that are now hailing American soldier Humayun Khan as a hero who died in Iraq while serving American interests after his parents used his death to boost support for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. Does this mean he wasn’t a foreign invader?

BackChannels may either keep its own counsel as regards America’s 2016 election season or take the middle of the road approach to either “he” or “she” being elected.

As a blog about conflict (culture, language, and psychology), dealing with the dissension and polarization evident in American politics seems at once both too near and too ugly for short address.

What seemed a component missing in the responses to Sufi’s question was the Cold War Era and America’s possible approach to Russia and related post-Soviet foreign policy, which would be to see the dictatorships replaced with nascent modern democracies.  Although Iraq and Libya may be contested and war torn states, they are no longer established tyrannies, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi having long made their passage into history.

At Syria, Putin made public (in a kind of gambit with Obama) the switching of course from modern democracy to a post-modern medieval system of centralized power, patronage, and privilege.

BackChannels believes Orwell would recognize Putin’s World and its encouragement of Far Right and Far Left politics — Black, Red, Brown, and Green — and, as happened elsewhere in the 1960s and beyond, promote war without end but to its own advantage in the twin promotions of fear and and power.  Along those lines, BackChannels readers may wish to take note of Soviet political manipulation associated with the Ogaden War between Somalia and Ethiopia in the late 1970s.  This piece published by the BBC on that war gets at the agitation developed to get the war started for Somali militia and later the Russian rescue of the Ethiopian Army with arms sales sufficient to turn back Somali gains:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03pk9c1 (April 7, 2016).

In the broad and crazy retelling of the story in Wikipedia, Russia, the Soviet, found itself backing both states in the contest for the Ogaden, but the BBC interview goes down into the details of how Somali forces were moved into action in the Ogaden at the urging of renowned Admiral Sergey Gorshkov who told Somali General Mohamed Noor Galal (still living) that he wanted the imperialists (western interests) out of the Horn of Africa.

“Grand Game” politics, Soviet style?

Are these wars a part of a dance taking place between antagonists for resources plus political control and power?

Without that BBC interview, one returns to a more general interpretation of events.

Echoing Wikipedia, the Polynational War Memorial page for “Ethiopia vs Somalia” summarizes the politics this way:

The Ogaden War was a conventional conflict between Somalia and Ethiopia in 1977 and 1978 over the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. Fighting erupted as Somalia sought to exploit a temporary shift in the regional balance of power in their favor to occupy the Ogaden region, claimed to be part of Greater Somalia. In a notable illustration of the nature of Cold War alliances, the Soviet Union switched from supplying aid to Somalia to supporting Ethiopia, which had previously been backed by the United States, prompting the U.S. to start supporting Somalia. The war ended when Somali forces retreated back across the border and a truce was declared.


For all the death and wreckage involved, who got what out of the Ogaden War?

Who profited?

BackChannels doesn’t have the answer but knows the maneuvering and manipulation repeatedly produce bloody results that don’t seem to translate into broad local, national, or regional lifestyle improvements.

In fictional language, one might write, “There was a war that changed nothing.”