Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Between Iraq and a hard place - Why we went, how it got so screwed up and where it's going - Part 2

In the first part of In `Between Iraq and a hard place - Why we went, how it got so screwed up and where it's going , Part 1', I explained that we went to Iraq in the first place in what primarily amounted to a war to protect the Saudis and the other Sunni Emirates in the Persian Gulf.

I showed how President Bush's `Arab Democracy' fetish undercut a brilliant military achievement that could have been the beginning of victory in this war, and how his empowering of the Shiites surprised and horrified the Saudis and undercut our strategic aims.

In Part 2, we'll examine what the Bush Administration is doing now, where Iraq is likely headed and the implications for the Middle East.

The short answer as to where the US is headed in all this is O-U-T, as quickly and as gracefully as we can manage it. I doubt we will have any significant forces left in Iraq by the end of 2007.

With the loss of that `political capital' the President so famously bragged about after the `04 elections, the elevation of many of his most vociferous foes in the opposition to control of the key Congressional committees and his approval ratings consistently in the mid to low 30's, the President's main concern at this point is a face saving exit.

To that end, Dubbyah appears to have made a deal with al-Maliki and al-Sadr (and thus, Iran) to look the other way while the Shiites complete the ethnic cleansing and marginalization of the Sunnis, and apparently is willing to continue a certain amount of baksheesh and aid to the Iraqi Shiite government in exchange for a reasonably graceful exit.

This explains why the Shiite militias have gone to ground and are being allowed to keep their weapons for `home defense' and any Shiites or Sadrists who have been detained have gone quietly, while the Sunni insurgents have been involved in active firefights with US and Iraqi troops. The Shiites know the fix is in, and if it wasn't, Moqtada al-Sadr could, with his parliamentary votes, kick al-Maliki out of office in a heartbeat.

That's why US troops who are part of the `security surge' are patrolling Sadr City in relative peace and quiet, as compared with their attempted incursion a few months ago.

Other signs of the imminent US exit include a vast step up in Iraqi (almost all Sunni) refugees accepted into the US, the `shared oil revenue' deal the Kurds signed on to to bribe the Shiites to leave them in peace now that they realize the US is leaving, and of course, our sitting down with Iran and Syria as part of a regional peace conference on Iraq...something the Bush Administration swore it would never do.

As I've mentioned before, the idea of `let's talk to Iran and Syria' is simply the latest appeasement Prozac. The only reason for Iran or Syria to talk to the US would be to extract a price. And the fact that the Bush Administration is willing to bargain with them at this point is another indication of the president's desire for the quickest possible exit - regardless of the implications for the future.

What the president has in fact done to deep six the so-called `Bush Doctrine' and to accept, almost in their entirety, the recommendations of the The Iraq Study Group. The ISG's recommendations, once you get past the bloviated rhetoric could be summarized as follows: let's leave before the next presidential election, let's bribe the Shiite factions to stay quiet long enough for us to make a graceful exit, and let's negotiate with Iran and Syria and give them a free hand in Lebanon and pressure Israel into giving up the Golan Heights, Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem as part of the price for allowing us to withdraw gracefully.

If this apparent course continues, the implications of this kind of appeasement could by extremely far reaching in the not-too-distant future.

For one thing assuming we paid the price ( or any part of it) demanded by Iran and Syria, the effect it would have on our allies and adversaries both in the region and overseas would be enormous. Should we negotiate our way out of this without neutralizing Iran, it will be seen as what it is....a defeat and a retreat for us and a victory for jihad.

The rationale for all this of course, aside from getting us out of Iraq is that we will have achieved `regional stability' and created a Sunni bloc against the Shiite bloc in Syria, Iran, Iraq and soon, Lebanon. Or as Condi Rice recently put it, there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.”

Did you ever think you'd hear an intelligent person refer to Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Dubai as `moderate' with a straight face?

(You'll also notice she didn't mention Hamas)

That attitude also assumes that the Sunni agenda lines up perfectly with our own - which is definitely not the case. And the proof of that was the sitdown between Iran's Ahmadinejad and Saudi King Abdullah, to horsetrade for spheres of influence and plan strategy for goals they have in common - like the destruction of Israel and the Jews.

When it comes to dealing with jihad and non-believers, Sunnis and Shia are perfectly capable of putting aside their differences for the moment and working together for common aims.

We are in the process , in effect, of handing a huge victory to Iran. The country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was entirely correct when he said on Iran state television that “realities in the region show that the arrogant front, headed by the U.S. and its allies, will be the principal loser in the region.” Iran is in dire straits economically and needed to expand or implode. Assuming that the Bush Administration has no intention of neutralizing them or doing anything meaningful to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, that particular genie is out of the bottle, with consequences scarcely to be imagined, as Iran will dominate the new Shiite Iraq, its resources and its strategic location.

Another implication of this appeasement has to do with the effect on our friends and allies in the region. Our real ally in Iraq,the Kurds, as I've mentioned, are already in the process of jumping ship, since we've left them no choice. Elsewhere in the region, moderate forces like the Iranian dissidents and Lebanese Christians and pro-democracy forces will receive a definite message that our commitments are not to be trusted. And should Israel be marginalized, we will have lost an important ally, one of the few we have with a significant military component.

Most important, of course, is the effect on America and its ability to wage the War on Jihad. One of the worst side effects of the way the Bush Administration has managed this war, and something President Bush will eventually answer for to history was his refusal to channel the USA's natural rage and energy after 9/11 into victory over our enemies.

Instead, we were told that our enemies' creed was peace, that the perpetrators of 9/11 would be `brought to justice' and to calm down and go shopping.

The poor planning, misrepresentation and outright waste of the Iraq War is not something Americans are going to forget easily. It has divided us when we should have been unified, and will effect us in taking steps we should take to win the War on Jihad.

Should we leave the region for another isolationist vacation from history, rest assured that the war will follow us home.


Anonymous said...

"I doubt we will have any significant forces left in Iraq by the end of 2007."

Doubt it. We are pouring a cool billion into converting the green zone to an American embassy. This would make it the largest in the world. Also we are busy constructing 5 new bases (permanent ones) around central Iraq. Also, as of a few days ago, the entire 3rd ID left Ft. Stewart to their new permanent home in some TBA location there.

We are going to be there for a long time.


Freedom Fighter said...

I certainly hope you're right and I'm wrong...but I don't think so.

We may end up having a large embassy there and some military advisors, and the 3rd Division may be participating in the `surge' but I see us on the way out.

The Iraqi government has said on numerous occasions that they will not allow Iraq to be used as a base for any attack against their jihad buddies in Iran, which takes away any strategic benefit from our being there.

As for the bases, it remains to be seen whom they are being built for, and why.

Again, I hope you're right and I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

We'll have to see....

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

I agree with you completely about empowering Iran. It was much more comforting when Iraq and Iran were trying to blast each other off the face of the planet. Nature abhors a vacuum, and we created one just off the western border of Iran.

Iran will be free to extend its influence all the way to the Mediterranean, what with Hamas and all.

Anonymous said...

This analysis like part one is one of the best I have read on this. I hope you are wrong of course in your conclusion that we are looking for a graceful way to surrender but I think it is very likely that we are right.

The goals for Iraq should be: 1.) a situation where Iraq is allied with the US in the Global War on Terrorism and 2.) is a stable country. Implementation of the surrender plan you lay out may well lead to a stable Iraq but it will be allied with America's enemies. If America fails to achieve the two things mentioned above, it will be the end of America as a major power. Also, it will likely place the very survival of the country in grave danger.

The very best result from failure in Iraq will be the end of the US as a major power. If the US loses its status as a major power, this will result in a major life style adjustment for most Americans. In other words, many of the things we take for granted will no longer be available or they will not be affordable.

The last sentence of your post sums it up perfectly. If we surrender to our enemies, in the region, the war will follow us home. Frankly the very survival of our country will probably be placed in grave danger.

The policy you describe seems to be the one we may be following. The policy you describe involves undermining our two most valuable allies in the region. These are the Israelis and the Kurds. A policy that undermines your friends and empowers your enemis is no way to run a war.

As I stated before, I hope the analysis is wrong but I think it is highly possible that you are right. Clearly much prayer is needed. America and Western civilization face an existential threat and few leaders within the Western world seem willing to face this threat.

Finally, the only way we could possibly isolate ourselves from the Middle East would be if Congress would open the 140 billion barrels of oil or so for drilling that is available in the continental US and in US coastal waters. If we opened this oil for drilling, this would give us some leverage when dealing with Middle Eastern despots.

Anonymous said...

Also I should add that I think we will mostly be out of Iraq by the end of the year. As for the military bases, this will be up to whatever agreement the soverign Iraqi government and the US government reach. At this time, I doubt the Iraqi government will allow a permanent US presence. The bases are being proabaly being built for the Iraqis. The Iraqi government may allow the US to keep a small contingent there of a few thousand or less but I suspect they will not even allow that. I just hope we can achieve a situation where Iraq is allied with the US and stable soon. Very soon domestic political concerns will force us to leave.

As for the embassy, this will be based on whatever agreeemnt agreement the soverign Iraqi government and the US government reach. The size of the embassy and whatever staff it employs will be at the pleasure of the Iraqis.

Adhieving the goal of an Iraq that is allied with the US and is stable will begin and end with establishing a secure environment for the average Iraqi. To date, we have failed miserably in this area. I hope and pray the new surge strategy will work.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words.

I don't think of it as a surrender, per se...more like something we tried that went awry,because of the president's belief in `Arab democracy.'

At this point, we are looking to stabilize Iraq enough so that we can leave, even if it means that we leave a Shiite Islamic republic that is fairly close to Iran...and perhaps,just perhaps, president Bush may have some plans for Iran that could change things considerably.

I hope so. It would compensate for all the other screw ups.

On the plus side,we have killed a heck of a lot of jihadis, decimated a big chunk of al Qaeda, battle hardened our army and most likely marginalized Moqtada al Sadr.

One thing on oil. The saudi and UAE leverage comes from the huge amount of US debt they've puchased and their wholesale purchase of a good many US government figures rather than a worry about them curtailing our oil.

I fully support the idea of energy independence, but by itself it's not going to give us victory or stop the importation of jihad into America.

We get a fair chunk og our imported oil from Mexco, Venezuala and Trinidad, and the US is one of the largest oil producing countries in the world, and definitely the largest non-OPEC one...which allows US oil companies to undercut OPEC proces and leave us to import the foreign stuff, oil being fungiable.

Anonymous said...

The war on Iraq was waged for the Iranians. Iraq was the sacrificial lamb to get Iran to change its policy. without handing over Iraq to Iran, the conflict between arbas and persians was just a hitorical footnote. the bait was too delicious for the Iranian to pass. the genocide against sunnis meant to show the Americans that Iran is on the right path of enmity against the Arabs.
Iran lately embarrassed Blair by doing the hostage thing, but other than that the relationship is great. The Americans just swallowed the execution style death of 5 marines by the Iranians and covered it up or blamed the Iranian backed Al-qaida