A poster at Jihad Watch recently asserted: “I think America did right going into Iraq. Iraq must be used as a foothold into the Islamic world, but it will not come without great cost. In the meantime, Islamists invade the West, but the free world will control the land that counts the most to them: Arabia.”
If the stated goal — to enter and destroy major weaponry — was the real and only goal, then it at least was rational and defensible. However, if that stated goal was not the real goal, and the one that quickly replaced it, that of bringing “democracy” and thereby “transforming the Middle East,” was all along the real goal and not something disastrously concocted after the invasion, then the original invasion itself was not justified. It was irrational, and was foredoomed to end in failure.
Clearly the real goal was never to do what would always have been justified: to enter Iraq, seize or destroy major weaponry, and topple the regime, a disguised Sunni despotism, of Saddam Hussein, and then leave. The power struggle within Iraq would then have continued for a very long time, and inevitably given vent to the natural aggressiveness and winner-take-all (there is the victor, there are the vanquished) attitude that comes naturally to peoples suffused with Islam.
That would have been not only defensible, but admirable.
But that, clearly, was not the goal. Those who made policy really were just as naive, and many remain so today, as they were then. They still prate, as one Dan Barrett did on NPR a few nights ago, about the “President’s plan” and how it was working, how “democracy was spreading all over the Middle East” in such places as “Lebanon” (where true “democracy” would doom the Christians, so thank god the 1932 census is still the basis of the non-democratic power-sharing on which the government of Lebanon remains based, despite those “democrats” the followers of Nasrallah) and the “Palestinian territories” (where elections brought Hamas to power — that is, the Fast Jihadists replaced the Slow Jihadists) as well as in “Iraq” (what “democracy” there? the winner-take-all democrats, enforcing the purple-thumbed nonsense, the Shi’a militias?). And others, including a great many “conservative” columnists, continue to support the effort, or to support it in part, because they remain Bush loyalists. But more than that, it is too disturbing for them to admit how wrong they have been all along. They would lose face. They would not recover. Start with My Weekly Standard and go from there, even unto Krauthammer and Victor Davis Hanson, the pets of so many.
They have all refused to identify Islam as the source of the menace, as the menace itself. And failing to do that, they have failed to describe the proper goal in Iraq, as elsewhere, as one of weakening the Camp of Islam and Jihad. In Iraq, that possibility presents itself on a platter. Of the three main divisions within Islam, sectarian, ethnic, and economic, that is between Sunni and Shi’a (the Ibadiya cannot conceivably count), the Arab and non-Arab Muslims, and the oil-rich and the Muslims without oil (which means without much at all, save in the case of the two states that hold Islam in check, Turkey and Tunisia, and that have therefore managed to overcome the inshallah-fatalism of Islam and have also been welcoming to Infidel tourists who still, as yet, feel safe), two are present: the sectarian and the ethnic.
It is criminal not to see this, and not to exploit those divisions by pulling out.
Oh, an “exit strategy” is needed? Why? The “exit strategy” is that the Exit itself is a Strategy, the very best Strategy of all. No need to apologize. We did not create, we did not exacerbate, the sectarian divisions and the mistreatment of non-Arab Muslims (the Kurds in this case) that are as old as Islam. For the Sunni-Shi’a divide goes back to the first century of Islam, and Sunnis have been persecuting and killing Shi’a ever since. See what happened to the Hazara in Afghanistan under the Taliban; see what Sipaha-e-Sahaba has been doing to Shi’a mosques and professionals for the last decade or more, see how Shi’a are treated in Saudi Arabia, in Al-Hasa province, see how Shi’a and Sunnis get along in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Bahrain, in Kuwait. As for the Arab mistreatment of the Kurds, where have the Arabs ever treated non-Arab Muslims as their equals, given the many ways in which Islam is a vehicle for Arab supremacism? See the Berbers of the Kabyle, see the black Muslims of Darfur. The Muslim must read the Qur’an in Arabic, and even, ideally, memorize it, even if he does not understand a word, as so many madrasa students don’t. He usually takes an Arab name. He prays five times a day toward Arabia. He takes as his model of everything a seventh-century Arab and, for some things, looks as well at what that seventh-century Arab’s Arab companions did. He often, in some cases, pretends to a lineage that makes him a descendant of the Prophet — my god, a third of Pakistanis seem to be “Sayeeds,” which would imply quite a polyphiloprogenitive Prophet indeed, and that is not what the Qur’an says.
And this “Exit Strategy” business, which long faces solemnly tell us we “must have,” seems (according to them) to be something remarkably difficult, an as yet undiscoverable thing that no one could conceivably locate, no one had yet been able to come with. It is supposed to, in the words of the Iraq Study Group, proceed very slowly, very cautiously, with only combat troops to be taken out by 2008 (2008!), with some remaining for “force protection” (what does that mean? how open-ended is that?) and then others remaining, presumably in a situation of maximum peril to themselves, to “train” Iraqis by being “embedded with Iraqi units.” American soldiers “embedded with Iraqi units” have already been killed (three, including a lieutenant colonel, died just last week). One naturally imagines that this would be the most dangerous of all jobs: to entrust your life to fellow soldiers who are Muslim, who do not wish you well, and at least one or two in each unit would be just as glad to see you dead. Yet this is the task our uncomplaining soldiers are being asked to undertake, and to keep doing, apparently, long after 2008. And who will they be “training”? The non-existent “Iraqi” army and possibly, to a now-lesser extent given its performance, the so-called “Iraqi” police.
How much longer will it take the Bush administration, and the Iraq Study Group people, to put aside entirely the use of this misleading adjective “Iraqi” — or at least to hold it up for proper critical inspection, so that there may be some intelligent discussion of what it is that makes this adjective so misleading?
An American exit needs no further excuse. The Shi’a of Iraq will never give the Sunnis what they demand, and the Sunnis, who have convinced themselves that they constitute not 19% of the population but 42%, will never acquiesce in the permanent loss of power to the Shi’a Arabs. The only “exit strategy” that is needed is: who will protect the Americans from being attacked by their “Iraqi” friends as they depart, all of them scrambling no doubt to steal or waylay or divert as much American military equipment as they can possibly get their hands on, and also eager to kill a few departing Americans. The only local group the Americans can count on is the Kurdish pesh merga, and as it happens, the only group in Iraq that might deserve to have some equipment left for it is that same Kurdish pesh merga. For entirely unsentimental, un-Peter-Galbraithian reasons, an independent Kurdistan serves American interests and should be encouraged, and diplomatic overtures made to Turkey, with an American guarantee that Kurdistan will make no demands on Turkish territory, but will be free to do so on the Kurdish-populated territories of both Iran and Syria.