Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald assesses the widespread view that American troops “broke” Iraq, and therefore must now “fix” it:
Why do we need to “fix” anything in Iraq? The Tom-Friedman school of “you broke it — you own it” is simply idiotic. We did not “break” Iraq. It was horrible under Saddam Hussein. It was only slightly less horrible during the period since the 1958 coup of Qassem, and then the counter-coups. It was not pleasant for Jews in 1948, when they began to be dispossessed and leave Baghdad in large numbers — a city that in 1920 had been 1/3 Jewish. It was not pleasant for the Assyrians or the Chaldeans (I have right on my desk the magazine “Nineveh” with some touching accounts), not ever, and certainly not during the massacres of the early 1930s. It was not pleasant when Gertrude Bell wrote of the impossible Iraqis (though she had a real soft spot for Faisal), who noted the resentment of Shi’a tribes at the imposition of Sunni rule. Iraq has been a violent and unpleasant place, as has much of the Muslim Middle East, for a long time.
We didn’t break it. It was in complete disrepair. We did what we could. We did what we could under the illusion that hospitals, schools, power-grids, water-treatment plants, soccer balls and toys would make things better, and might even win friends. We were under the illusion that large numbers, not tiny numbers, of Iraqis might turn out to be genuinely grateful to the Americans who rescued them from the murderous despot. We were under the illusion that there was an actual nation called Iraq, and that the reason the Shi’a voted was because they had suddenly become converted to democracy, and not because they knew they constituted 60% of the population and would gain power that way when they could not, at the moment, gain it through open warfare. We were under the illusion that the transfer of power from Sunni to Shi’a would mean nothing to Sunni Arab states, and that they would be delighted to learn all about democracy and suchlike from this Iraq-the-Model we were so expensively, and wastefully, creating.
Meanwhile, the numbers of people willing to sign up to risk their lives in support of this fantasy drops, drops, drops, and the $300 billion spent, as any fool can see, would have been far better spent on energy programs, nuclear and solar and wind, and on conservation — any fool except the fools now insistent on clinging to the rubble in Iraq. For anyone can see that the money that the rich Arab and Muslim states take in is one of the three main components in furthering the Jihad. The other two are the Muslim populations behind enemy lines, especially in timid and confused Western Europe, which is led by a ruling class unequal to the task, and the advances in technology that make the spreading of the message of Islam far more effective, through audiocassettes, videocassettes, satellite channels, the Internet. This is making the lukewarm, unobservant pious Muslims of yore, largely indifferent to the outside world and to those distant, nearly mythical Infidels, more and more fervent as the full malevolent message of Islam is broadcast hither and yon — to our great danger and dismay.
The fixation on the word “fix” is itself telling. Should we “fix” Saudi Arabia? Should we “fix” Egypt? Should we “fix” Algeria and the Muslim terrorism and state response there? What about “fixing” Yemen while we are at it, or Syria, where we would have to go in and push aside the Alawite military caste that runs the place, if “democracy” is to be On the March? At the same time we would discover that that dictatorship of, by, and for the Alawites is, alas, the only mild protection the local Christians have against local “real” (i.e., non-Alawite) Muslims.
Let’s not “fix” anything. Let’s not give more jizyah. Let’s have as little as possible to do with the Muslim world. Let’s end Muslim migration, and work to reverse it. Let’s make our countries not Muslim-friendly, so that Da’wa and demands for changes in Infidel societies are not made easier, but rather Muslim-hostile, so that the conduct of Da’wa is monitored and countered in prisons, in schools, in immigrant communities. This can be done, but only if the enemy is properly identified — even if that still must be done in a slightly oblique fashion.
No one in his right political mind can possibly believe that in the next presidential election, the candidate who most forcefully argues for leaving Iraq will not win. Of course such a candidate will win. Does the Bush Administration have any sense of the future? Does it realize that a great many people who have correctly identified the enemy and find the policy in Iraq silly and incoherent, will not be blackmailed into silence because the prescription they offer seems, outwardly, to correspond to those of the unseemly and unacceptable Left?
Politically tone-deaf, they fail to realize that in a year or two they will have to leave Iraq if there is to be any chance of a candidate winning who, at the very least, sees the need to confront and check the Jihad.
Perhaps they think geopolitics can be conducted in a political vacuum. Perhaps they think that the officers and men returning from Iraq, once they leave the service, will keep parroting the party line and not reveal how silly and self-defeating they think that party line about Iraq-the-Model really is.
That will be the Soldiers’ Revenge: telling the awful truth about the awful Iraqis. And about the crazed policy of squandering lives, money, and materiel for a goal that they still are unable to explain coherently — for of course they cannot. There was a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and it is this: any Muslim state, Iraq or any other, that acquires certain kinds of weaponry, becomes by virtue of being Muslim, by virtue of being inhabited by Muslims, the possible source of weaponry for terrorist groups. That can happen because the regime itself sympathizes with terrorism or because individuals in that regime’s armed forces do so, or because a regime that may overturn the one currently in place may do so, or because terrorist groups may simply be able to acquire those weapons through sympathizers in the government or close to it. It can happen for all of these reasons, not one of which the Bush Administration dared to offer (because to say bluntly that no Muslim state can be allowed to acquire such weapons if they have not done so already, while perfectly true, is one more of those obvious remarks that cannot be stated).
So give the Administration this: there is that Al-Qaeda-Iraq connection, one that unites all Muslims.
And take away from the Administration this: that there is a connection between head-counting (the elections) in Iraq and a change in the Muslim attitudes that Muslims in Iraq exhibit. The chador is back in imposed fashion all over southern Iraq and in much of Baghdad; Christians are killed both north and south and east. The dislike or hatred of the Americans runs unabated in the populace; some of the leaders want the Americans to stay, for those American soldiers are useful in fighting and dying for the non-existent Iraq, and the Shi’a and Kurds are glad to have them do so, while the Sunnis realize that the more training those Shi’a and Kurds receive from the Americans, the more difficult it will be to subdue them (that is what “training the Iraqi army and police” really means to the Sunnis, as well as to the Shi’a and Kurds, but not to the Bush Administration — and those Kurds, Shi’a and Sunni have it right).
The Administration has, at most, little more than a year to pull out of Iraq, to stop sending more jizyah to the “Palestinians,” to stop pressuring Cyprus and Austria and others in Europe to welcome, rather than oppose, the entry of Turkey into the E.U. It has a year to begin to support and work cleverly toward a Kurdish state whose leaders will have to promise not to make territorial demands on Turkey, and to set up a Christian corridor, a proposed map of which can be seen in the Assyrian magazine “Nineveh,” vol. 27, no. 3, p. 28. Americans should insist that this be created and protected from Muslims who mean the Christians harm by Kurdish and possibly international troops.
The counter-Jihad requires more than mere military means. And it certainly requires a deflection of attention from the squandering of every kind now to be observed in Iraq, without rhyme or reason — only hope, or the hope of a hope.