As General David Petraeus leaves Iraq to take up his new post as the head of CENTCOM, it's a excellent time to reassess Iraq...the positives and the negatives.
General Petraeus, his successor General Ordiano and our warriors achieved something that many pundits and self-styled military experts thought was impossible in modern times - the defeat of an in-country insurgency, especially one backed by unfriendly states to the east and north that acted as havens, bases and transit areas for our enemies. And to make it even more impressive, the victory occurred in a country absolutely boiling with sectarian and ethnic conflict. I have absolutely no doubt that these two general's strategy in Iraq will be studied in depth for years to come at West Point and other places where the world's future military leaders learn their trade.
That said, what their valiant achievement accomplished( aside from sending a notable number of jihadis to their just desserts) was to put the best possible face on a bad situation and allow America a graceful exit.
According to President Bush, our goals were to have a stable Iraq who would be democratic and an ally of ours in the so-called 'war on terror.' The goals themselves were absolutely farcical in terms of the reality on the ground and what our actual war aims should have been, and even at that we have only accomplished one out of three, stability. And it cost us 4,000 lives and a trillion dollars, much of which was wasted or stolen.
As I pointed out some time ago, this was easy to see coming from a long way off.
What we've established in Iraq is a Shiite Islamic Republic based on Sharia with a great deal of its leadership friendly to our enemies in Iran. Iraq adheres religiously to a boycott of Israel that is against US law, and there has been open season under our watch on Iraq's Christians, a story that rarely merits a mention in the dinosaur media.Iraq will no more be a 'ally ' of ours against our enemies than say, Saudi Arabia or Yemen and will limit their 'war on terror' activities to simply suppressing any dissident elements in their own society.
As we see from the protracted wrangling between ourselves and the Iraqi government who want us out as soon as possible, the time come when the Iraqis are essentially saying to us,"Thanks for your time and money, infidels. Now get out so we can bond with our Jihad brothers next door."
This in itself is nothing out of the ordinary. There's even less reason for us to assume that Iraq's Shiites would be any more grateful to us for liberating them then say, the French.
The difference is that liberating France and opening a second front against the Nazis was part of our war strategy to ultimately defeat them, and the French at least fought at our side against the Nazis until the war was over.Iraq has fought at our side only to free its territory from dissident shock troops like the Mahdi Army and Al-Qaeda, and that's where it's going to end.
It's highly unlikely that we'll see the Iraqi Army we trained and equipped at such great expense sending troops to fight at our side against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Abu Sayef in the Philippines,or anywhere else. Nor will we see Iraq allowing US bases in their country or their ports or other facilities to be used by our military in any hostilities against our enemies in Iran. Maliki and his friends have said so many times.
Another bad aspect of all this is our acquiescence in Shiite domination of the country. Rather than allow Iraq to split into its natural divisions, we simply allowed the Shiites to take over.
To do that, the Bush Administration sold out our real allies in Iraq, the Kurds. Not only did we undercut their efforts to get the Iraqi government to abide by the agreement they made with the Kurds on sharing Kurdistan's oil and allowing the Kurds some autonomy in dealing with their domestic affairs, we passed military information to the Turks, allowed them to invade Kurdistan's territory and pulled our troops out of position to make it easier for the Turks to go in.
Now it's the Sunni's turn, as the Shiite dominated Iraqi government and military aims at decimating the US-allied Sunni Awakening movement who fought Al -Qaeda at our side at considerable risk to themselves..while our military is ordered not to interfere and we do nothing meaningful to stop it.
It's been obvious to me for some time that SecDef Robert Gates and Condi Rice have apparently engineered a quid pro quo with Iran that involves our trading control of Lebanon, Shiite domination of Iraq and a guarantee not to attack Iran's nuclear facilities or assist Israel in doing so for a ceiling on oil prices, an end to Iran's agitation in OPEC to end oil trading in dollars and a graceful exit from Iraq.
I have a feeling that bargain is going to look like an increasingly bad one time goes on, especially if Iran successfully goes nuclear in the coming months, with the ability to pass those weapons on to proxies like Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.
What's worse, we've created what amounts to a Shia 'sphere of influence' dominated by Iran, a crescent icluding Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. And that has huge implications for the future of the Middle East.
It's not my intention to rain on anyone's parade ...but I think it's necessary to look beyond our impressive victory in Iraq and realize that not only did it not fully accomplish the Bush Administration's own criteria for success there but that our subsequent actions are almost certainly robbing the US of most of what gains we made.In the end, selling out your allies never comes cheaply.
Iraq is just the first round of this war, and hopefully we've learned some important lessons for the future.