Gamal Abdel Nasser used poison gas in Yemen, and would have used it in the Six-Day War had the Arabs not had to scream for a ceasefire so quickly. Of course, if they do use poison gas against Israel, they know what will happen to them. Wherever they can get away with it, as in Iraq, they use it.
In Iraq, American soldiers are inhibited from giving the response they could give, even as they risk their lives for a foolish goal, set by foolish men ignorant of Islam. Those men are ignorant apparently of anything outside of the theatrum belli of Iraq, and even there so misunderstand things as to squander the lives of better people than they are, because they cannot even conceive of how removing American troops will accomplish exactly what needs to be accomplished — to divide and demoralize the Camp of Islam. They’re just too stubborn, too dumb, and too unimaginative. Bush, and those who remain loyal to Bush out of — loyalty.
It disgusts. It is madness. Una follia. American policy is now a runaway train, with a madman in the engine car, who will not stop, will not listen to anyone except himself. It is the most incredible situation in American history.
And that others do not see it as such, or do not attack the policy for the right reasons, is likewise madness. For god’s sake, isn’t there a single person in Congress who can stand up and say, “I want to defeat or weaken the forces of Jihad, and the way to do that is clearly to remove the troops”? Is that so hard to do? And then to read out a list of all the things that should and could be done, to make sure that this is perceived, in a month or two, not as a retreat, but as part of a much more determined and ruthless campaign against all the instruments of Jihad.
Within a year of the invasion, that is, after Saddam Hussein, his sons, and almost all of the people in that game of fifty-two pick-up had been killed or seized. After the country had been scoured for weaponry, the continued presence of American troops made no sense. It made no sense to ignore the fact that the Sunnis were now exposed as constituting a mere 19% of the population, and without Saddam Hussein or some other Sunni despot equally ruthless, they would not be able to hold onto the power they had possessed during the entire history of modern Iraq. That modern history began with a revolt by the Shi’a tribes, and is now ending with a revolt by the Shi’a, though now many of them are now urban dwellers and their tribal loyalties may have lessened. This is the main point: the inevitability of Sunni-Shi’a conflict. It did not depend on any act by the Americans after the regime fell: the collapse of the regime itself guaranteed that power would pass to the Shi’a from the Sunnis. It might pass as a result of armed conflict; it might pass, as it apparently has, through the purple-thumbed voting — with the Shi’a enthusiastically participating because they knew that they outnumbered the Sunni Arabs by more than 3-1, and the Sunnis hardly participating at all, because they knew they would lose, and the Kurds of course voting, to protect their interests in a national government of whose existence they are not particularly fond: the very same day a referendum was held in the Kurdish north and 98% of those voting voted for an independent Kurdistan.
The government that resulted is, to the extent it can be, of, by, and for the Shi’a Arabs. No matter what cosmetic changes are made, what phony “oil bill” is passed that may outwardly satisfy the Americans, just as soon as those Americans leave the Shi’a militia will go at it and get their revenge, and they will be even more likely, having been held back by the Americans, to engage in the kind of warfare that is the only kind that gets the attention, and possibly some cooperation, from the Sunni Arabs. It won’t be the kid-gloves treatment of the Americans in Iraq, nor the scrupulous Israelis. It will be Muslim on Muslim. From outside Iraq, others will supply money, men, weaponry, to their coreligionists, and within Muslim lands — Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, Pakistan being the main ones where there are significant Shi’a communities — all kinds of spillover effects will only increase the domestic unrest and headaches for regimes that, until now, have managed to export to the Infidel world, the Western world, all of the refusal to compromise, the aggression and the hostility to which Islam naturally gives rise, and which those growing up in societies suffused with Islam exhibit. It will be a very nice Demonstration Project for the Infidels of the world.
Iraq, Iraq? Suppose the crazy goals of Bush could be obtained, with another $750 billion being spent — or even another $250 billion. (What if, by the way, that money had been spent, or were now spent, on energy projects, so as to deprive the Muslims of the “money weapon”?) So what? Why would a functioning Iraq be a Good Thing for us? How would a Shi’a-run state linked economically and politically and religiously to Iran conceivably serve as a “model” (that Light Unto the Muslim Nations — that “light” I have made light of here many times before) for Sunni Arab states? They will be permanently enraged that the most important place in Islamic history, the Land of the Two Rivers, for five hundred years (roughly 750-1250) the site of the Abbasid Caliphate and the center of what they see as High Islamic Civilization, will now be in the hands of those “Rafidite dogs” the Shi’a.
Nothing that happens in Iraq will keep the Arab and Muslim states from acquiring another ten trillion dollars in the next 30 years. It was not senseless, if indeed there were reasonable grounds to suspect that Saddam Hussein had or was soon to acquire weapons of mass destruction, to invade so as to destroy or seize that weaponry, or disrupt his putative projects. Let some Arabs scream with delight as we now leave. They’ll soon enough come to realize that extricating American forces from Tarbaby Iraq does not represent an American defeat, but rather, at long last, intelligent recognition that this is not a “war on terrorism” but a war of self-defense against the worldwide Jihad and its many instruments — and that the theatre of Iraq, or even the larger Middle East, is not the main theatre. There is no one particular place where “terrorists” will gather (as in an Iraq after the Americans pull out), because they can gather in Pakistan, or in Saudi Arabia, or for that matter in Madrid or London or Falls Church, Virginia, if they feel like it. The very idea of taking over, and holding, at incredible cost — $750 billion in past, present, and committed future expenses — an entire country, is worse than senseless.
It is and will be a country riven by civil conflict. The Sunni Arabs — the ones likely to be more favorable to Al Qaeda, for example — will be devoting all of their energies to attacking, or repulsing the attacks of, Shi’a Arabs. Both kinds of Arabs in the north will be attacking, or repulsing the attacks of, the Kurds. The Kurds will see the Sunni-Shi’a conflict as the perfect opportunity to make the most of these conditions to make their move for independence, a move that should be supported by the Americans. The Americans should realize that an independent Kurdistan would cause great problems to both Iran and Syria, and even to Islam more generally. The spectacle of a non-Arab Muslim people throwing off the Arab yoke would or could inspire other non-Arab Muslims, such as Berbers in North Africa, and even Berbers in France, to recognize Islam for what it is: a vehicle for Arab imperialism, linguist, cultural, economic, and political.
Will this be recognized? Is there anyone in Congress who will state this kind of opposition to the war? Who will show up the Bush Administration not for its being too ruthless, or too tough, but for being too ignorant, too inhibited, too un-ruthless, too uncomprehending of all the things that it should be trying to accomplish instead of the things that it is trying to accomplish in Iraq, which is to say a stable, unified country.
There are two things wrong with the Administration’s goal of a stable, unified country:
1. It is impossible of achievement.
2. It is exactly the wrong goal.
Other than those two reasons — it’s just fine.