Thursday, April 21, 2005

Iraq - The Damage Really Done.

$300 billion dollars of US taxpayer money (well over $1000 for every man woman and child in the country), an unbeatable inurgency, mounting casualties, a crumbling coalition, no exit strategy, an incompetent Iraq on the verge of civil war, lasting and serious damage to US diplomatic prestige, and the dismantling of the fabric of the US Army and Marine Corps.

Yep, Iraq's one helluva party.

But the long term kicker's even worse.

Because our little Iraq adventure has turned The Islamic Republic of Iran into a major world power we will be hard pressed to control.

The Iranian diplomatic performance in the past three or four years is up there with the genius of Bismarck in the late nineteenth century when he turned backwater Prussia into the warrior heart of the German uber-state. But just like Bismarck, the Iranians couldn't do it without a little help fro their enemies.

In only a few months, we've given Iran what years of war and bloodshed with Iraq constantly denied them. A passport to control their western neighbor. And it all went like clockwork.

They used Ahmed Chalabi brilliantly to sucker the US into the invasion. He knew full well there were no WMD (remember them?), but his Tehran controllers also knew that the Bush administration would believe his and "Curveball's" carpetbagging hokum, because that is how they operate themselves. Bush's people sell stories. It stands to reason they'll buy the ones they want to hear. And now, with the Shiites firmly in control, and the Kurds just waiting for their chance to ditch the failing Iraqi state, the Iranians are poised to take over in all but name. With the Americans unlikely to ever listen to them after Bremer's Baathist clean out blunder, it's no wonder the Sunnis are fighting so hard to get their power back. They face generations of retribution from Tehran-led Shiites if they don't.

At the same time, the Iranians timed the show and tell of their nuclear ambitions to absolute perfection, as they gear up for the big bluff of the world community, and once it's called putting themselves in the big leagues of Middle East strategic decision-making, with a nuclear presence.

The US is in an intolerable position. Regardless of the European diplomatic initiative backed by US threats of sanctions and ultimately military action, the Iranian's know very little can and will be done, despite all the bluster. Iran is just too powerful not to accomodate. The French could veto because of their heavy Iranian interests, while the Russians and Chinese are very likely to abstain to avoid a US-led hot war on their borders. What's most likely is that the other major powers will leave the US holding the baby once more. Whoopee.

Only this time, with all our forces tied down on endless rotation for years in Iraq, and our intelligence in Iran even worse than it was in dealing with Saddam (not exactly a sterling seal of approval), a full invasion is out of the question. And with an Israeli-led proxy attack not the sure thing that Sharon and the Israeil military would demand before an attack - that leaves the US with responsibility for delivering a non UN sanctioned strategic strike with little hope of doing anything except buttressing domestic support for the clerics in Tehran, and further accelerating Iranian support for outraged Islamicists throughout the Middle East and beyond.

The second alternative is no more palatable. Doing nothing, as Iran builds its nuclear arsenal will cause immeasurable loss of American prestige. For the first time

None of this was inevitable. But the blame for it lies almost entirely with unrealizable Neo-Con dreams of a Democratic Middle East. Their stunning naivite and almost ritual self-justifications became dangerously predictable and opened them to outflanking on an almost daily basis that led America into one of its most profound foreign policy reverses of modern times.

It's no surprise that Bush has covered his train wreck policy with Wilsonian rhetoric. Any smart politician would do the same.

Now all we have to do is find a way of framing this foreign policy disaster in a way that ignites rather than enrages heartland American Patriotism. How about telling them that Bush didn't just send our forces into a dangerous no-win counter-insurgency but that our troops have become the mere pawns of Iran's expansion plans. Unwittingly working for the bad guys was something we didn't even stoop to in Vietnam.

And Bush thought Foreign Policy was his strength in the last election.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sky is falling!

This article neglects the Iraq elections. Contrary to internet rhetoric, in the history of this planet, no democracy requires external controls-- the power of the people takes care of itself. Please read "The Case for Democracy" by Nathan Sharansky and publish your thoughts about it.

Regarding the price of the Iraq war, who cares. We pumped more in to Western Europe and South Corea, and it apparently pays back well. 50 more years of no-fly zones for Uday and Qusay ain't cheap either.

12:43 AM  
Blogger thinkdeeper said...

Thank you for reading the article and taking the time to respond. Please return to "Think Deeper" and comment on some past articles if you have a moment.

To address the issues you raised in your comment;

Firstly, internet rhetoric is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. I'm not in the market for another rant, because that inherently devalues the thought that has gone into the article, and it was considerable. My style may be rambunctious, but the content - hopefully - makes up for that.

Secondly, on the question of democracy taking care of itself, I believe that is somewhat idealistic in itself. Democracy cannot be implemented. It's an organic expression of the public will honed by exposure to enlightenment thinking and often a major national shock (such as the French Revolution for example). It seems that the complete lack of democracy in the Middle East (with the obvious exception of Israel) is no coincidence. Further to that, Iraq has attempted democracy before - also of the implemented variety - and it was a total disaster.

Thirdly, on the irrelevance of the price tag for the Iraq war, I must say your response seems somewhat cavalier. Do you not care about the failure of American Education, or health care systems in this country, both are desperately in need of infrastructure improvements? That money in the right hands could have been very useful in improving the lives of American citizens, rather than Iraqis.

Fourthly, I will definitely take a look at Sharansky's book. But it's important to register that Sharansky (for all his personal qualities) is on the far right of the argument.

Finally, the piece I wrote is essentially about the fact that the US has played into Iranian hands. The whys and wherefores of democracy mean nothing to them. If you have a view on my thoughts on how Iran is benefiting - for example from Chalabi as Oil Minister in Baghdad, feel free to comment once more.

6:24 AM  

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