A poster at Jihad Watch recently expressed conventional wisdom when he wrote: “The Iraqi military is not ready yet. Chaos would be the result. Iran would take the opportunity to control the southern half of Iraq, along with substantial additional oil resources. If the U.S. will not aggressively deal with Iraq, there is no chance it will deal with Iran.”
What is the “Iraqi military”? Is it Sunni Arab? Is it Shi’a Arab? Is it Arab rather than Kurd? Explain to me exactly the makeup, and real desires of, and size, and competence, of this “Iraqi military” you posit. Are there Sunni units and Shi’a units, or mixed units, and if there are mixed units, how do you think they perform now together? In the future? Ever?
And why do you say that “chaos would be result”? Would not a civil war be the result? It would not necessarily be “chaos,” for most of the country is clearly Sunni-Arab-ruled, or Shi’a-Arab ruled, or Kurdish (non-Arab)-ruled, save for Baghdad. Would chaos exist for a long time? Would not the armed parties on either side quickly establish their own lines, and then would not something like the civil war in, say, Russia, ensue, with here the Sunnis defeating the Shi’a or being defeated, and here the Kurds pushing out the Arabs, or vice-versa? Is that “chaos”?
And if it were “chaos,” why would that be bad for us, the Infidels? Why do you have such a difficult time envisioning an area of constant warfare, and unsettlement, with that very warfare, those hostilities, that constant unsettlement, keeping everyone preoccupied, each with each? And what’s more, there would be the interference of co-religionists, chiefly of Iran and of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, on the side of the Shi’a, supplying money, men, and weapons. Saudi Arabia and other rich Arabs would supply money to the Sunnis of Iraq, while Sunni volunteer soldiers might arrive from everywhere in the Sunni Arab lands, but especially from Egypt, Jordan, and even Syria, whose Alawite rulers would be glad to see those Sunni warriors go elsewhere to fight and die.
Why is this a bad thing? Why is this not a good thing, as good or possibly even better than the eight-year Iran-Iraq War?
And why are you so quick to predict that the Shi’a of Iran will, whatever aid they send, simply come naturally to control southern Iraq? What makes you say that? The Islamic Republic of Iran cannot even control the Arabs now within its borders, in Khuzistan. What makes you think the Arabs of Iraq would not simply take Iranian aid, to be used against the Sunnis, but still wish to preserve their own independence? This business of one vast Shi’a state is a fear now being whipped up by the governments of Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, in order to inveigle the Americans to remain as long as possible in Iraq to protect the Sunnis — even as the Sunnis in Iraq assume that they can continue to try to kill as many Americans as possible. It’s a false fear that the Sunnis are attempting to raise in Washington, a kind of bookend to the false hopes that were raised by plausible westernized Shi’a in exile, such as Ahmed Chalabi, who wanted to inveigle the Americans into getting rid of Saddam Hussein on behalf of the Shi’a. Remember all those promises about how the “liberation of Baghdad would make the liberation of Kabul look like a funeral procession”? That was, I believe, Bernard Lewis, but it could have been any number of American advisors and strategists who were confusing the secular, westernized Chalabi, Alawi, Kanan Makiya, Rend al-Rahim et al., with the real Shi’a of Iraq, who are represented much more truthfully by al-Hakim, and al-Maliki, and al-Jaffari (the man who on his Washington visit called for a “Bush Plan” for Iraq, just like the Marshall Plan for post-war Europe), and of course the ineffable los-de-abajo Moqtada al-Sadr.
We were fooled by Shi’a hopes, and now are being fooled by the exaggerated fears of the Sunnis. When, for god’s sake when, will Americans in both the Executive and Legislative branches, finally become immunized to this kind of middle-eastern-souk bargaining, promises (“I love you, effendi, I love you more than I love my mother, I love you more than I love my father”), threats, and all the rest of the Arab blague? Good God, how naive can people be? After all, we are not schoolgirls, we are not Samantha Smith, we are not Jimmy Carter — are we?