No democracy. No human rights.
No electricity. No employment.
No security. Massive death toll.
What to do? Escalate the whole damn thing (AKA, make some people rich) by arming the Sunni against Shiites and Iran.
The US is arming Sunnis within Iraq who are supposedly fighting against al Qaeda but also against Shiites and US troops. And the US is arming predominantly Sunni governments in the region who are already unpopular and increasingly unstable.
A high-level US delegation will hold talks with foreign ministers from allied Arab states in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday on a planned military package for allied Middle East states.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is being joined for two legs of her Middle East tour by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, told reporters that the proffered package was a continuation of pre-existing relationships and was designed to bolster US allies in the Persian Gulf.
From Sharm, Gates and Rice fly to Jeddah for talks with Saudi officials on the package. Saudi forces are expected to receive the bulk of the arms package with subsidized purchases, projected to top US$20 billion. Egypt is also expected to receive US$13 billion over the next decade.
Despite Rice's efforts to paint the intended arms sales as a bid to maintain a "balance" of forces in the region, it is clear that the US grant is intended to bolster the US arms industry...
The US package has been accepted as a fait accompli by the Israeli government in a fundamental reversal of past Israeli foreign policy.
Israeli acquiescence was bought with a 25 percent boost in the annual US military aid grant to US$3 billion, and constitutes an Israeli recognition of a shift in US regional priorities away from the Israel-Palestinian crisis to protecting its strategic interests in the Gulf following the eventual withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
While this is not stated publicly, Israel and US-allied Arab states have been drawn together by the perceived mutual threat of the growth of Iranian influence and by the efflorescence of Sunni militant groups, and related strengthening of political Islam in Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan...
Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner, who will introduce a resolution to block the package, told the Washington Post that "despite the fact that the administration has done everything to portray them [Saudi Arabia] as part of the moderate Arab world, members of Congress of both parties are increasingly skeptical."
While muted, US criticism of the weapons and monetary offer raises the fundamental issue of whether the deal and the significant rise in large-scale military aid for Egypt and Israel contributes to the escalation of tensions in the Gulf and wider region.
It is clear that these tensions have a major impact on the global economy, with crude prices spiking in recent months on supply concerns, and that an escalation in tensions in the Gulf, where US-led and Iranian naval forces are already locked in a tense standoff, is not in the interests of US regional allies.
It is also becoming apparent that the linkage previously made, if sporadically, by the Bush administration between democratic and civil reform and the provision of military aid has been largely forgotten. A June congressional decision to withhold US$200 million in annual military grants to Egypt over the suppression of the political opposition is effectively reversed by the intended rise in the military stipend.
Ultimately, the planned military package will serve to undermine the authority of recipient Arab governments, which are already seen as US toadies by significant sections of their citizenry, while encouraging the increased involvement of neighboring states in the Iraq civil war and the bleeding of these tensions into the Gulf....
Now, Saddam Hussein was Sunni and the US also armed Saddam in Iraq's war with Iran in order to constrain Iranian influence.
What has the war done to make a difference today?
See also Patricia's take on this at Whirled View.