Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald discusses various reasons the different Iraqi factions have for wanting American troops to stay in the country:
I have been asked: “Will not the Shi”a, once they feel empowered and secure, not ask us to leave and exact a bloody revenge on the Sunni?” The mere asking of such a question is telling: the part about will they not “ask us to leave” at a certain point.
Of course they will. But not before having kept us around, if they can, as long as possible, for several reasons. The most important is to have the American soldiers do as much of the fighting and dying and getting wounded as possible on behalf of the “government of Iraq” — i.e. the Shi’a who now control the “government of Iraq.” The second is to make sure that as much money as possible is inveigled out of those Americans — and how many Iraqis are now living high, including those who escaped abroad, with loot from the generous and freespending Infidels, winning hearts, winning minds, spending like there was no tomorrow. The more time the Americans spend there, the more money they are likely to hand out. The more time they spend in Iraq, the more likely it is that they, those Americans, will keep building that absurd $595 million dollar monument to a fantasy, that American Embassy complex in the Green Zone that will never, ever, serve the function, or be filled with the personnel, that were so blithely envisioned when that ridiculous project was begun three years ago.
The longer the Americans stick around, the more likely it is that they can be inveigled into handing over all kinds of military equipment, on the theory that “without it” the “Iraqis” can’t function, can’t protect themselves. The American generals, or some of them (not Abizaid, probably, but hearts-and-minds Chiarelli, and Casey, and some of the others) will find that plausible. The Administration will find that plausible. It isn’t enough, after all, to train the “Iraqis” to be a real fighting force, and thus to create the best-trained Arab Muslim army in the Middle East. No, we must arm it better — after all, aren’t they going to be our permanent friends? Otherwise, why would we have spent all the money we already have spent? Why would we be building that $595 million dollar embassy complex? No, having spent so much, now’s not the time to become suspicious — let’s give the Iraqis what they so desperately need. That is the Iraqi calculation.
But the telling part of the question above is that business of when they “ask us to leave.” When, in god’s name, did the disposition of American soldiers become a matter of waiting around to be told when to stay or go by others, and especially by others who are innately, irreducibly, immutably hostile — hostile every time they hear a Qur’anic recitiation, hostile when they read the Hadith, hostile when they leave Friday Prayers after a horrific anti-Infidel khutba is fierily delivered, hostile even if they never read the Qur’an and never attend a mosque because the atmospherics and attitudes of Islam suffuse every part of society, so only a few, the advanced, Westernized, few, can conceivably escape from this general attitude?
Why in god’s name do we accept the very idea that American officers and men must stay until the “Iraqis” (the non-existent Iraqis) tell us that we can go, tell us that they have “stood up” sufficiently in their own minds, so that we can “stand down”? They want us there for other reasons, for as long as possible. And I haven’t even gotten to why the Sunnis might want us to stay as well, for they may see us as their protectors from the full viciousness of Shi’a-trained police and army units. And then there is the Iranian side — the Iranians want us to stay, bogged down, and also close to possible Iranian retaliation should any attack be made on their nuclear project. Thus it is entirely conceivable that the Americans may now be holding back the Israelis from doing what the Israelis can hardly be expected to refrain from doing at some point, if the United States continues to dither about it. For after all, Ahmadinejad has called for Israel’s destruction, and there is no doubt that he is willing to endure casualties in return for that destruction — a small price to bring about the Mahdi’s return, and everything wonderful. So the Iranians, too, have a stake in keeping the Americans there.
And even if one side were to decide that they wanted the Americans to leave, what would the other side then do? It would immediately scream that the Americans “ruined things” and “they must stay” and “protect us.” In other words, the Tarbaby of Iraq will never ask us to unstick ourselves. The American government has to stop allowing its policies to be held hostage either by the behavior, or capacity, or express wishes of some “Iraqi” government. It should make up its own mind as to what is best for America.
And here is what the American government should do, after the failures of Maliki to complete a government, after his outrageous denunciation of putative American attacks — a “common occurrence” in his view — on civilians: announce a complete withdrawal, within a few months, to be completed within six months. And leave, and leave no equipment behind. Let them “stand up” then, or not, as they see fit or are able. And stop work on the damned embassy. And show that the hopelessness of creating an “Iraq” out of disparate and hostile groups has been recognized, and now a different, cooler and for some crueler strategy will be implemented. And it will now be up to the Muslims, in and out of Iraq, to make that situation work for them — for otherwise it will work for us.
And while both Sunnis and Shi’a jockey and appeal to co-religionists outside of Iraq, other states in the area should be read the riot act, for we will no longer be needing them to preposition troops at bases — and that should begin with Qatar, a state whose ruling family gives refuge to Al-Jazeera, tips off Al-Qaeda members, and financially supports Hamas. That can continue, but it can’t continue with American bases, and implied American protection against Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia (the three regional bullies). No, Qatar will be on its own.
Stop waiting to be asked, like an anxious guest who won’t leave until the host starts to yawn and direct him toward the door. We don’t have to wait for what the “Iraqis” want. And those various “Iraqis” may vary, over time, in whether they want us to stay or to go — a decision they will make only on the basis of what’s in it for them, never on the basis of what might further American interests.
Time to go. Long past time.