Winning in Iraq for the Americans (the “Iraqis” are quite another matter) should be defined as a result, or a situation, that weakens the Camp of Jihad. Bringing “freedom” to “ordinary moms and dads” in Iraq, hopeless as that effort necessarily is, if that “freedom” is defined as anything like what the advanced Western democracies offer their citizens, and what was created over the centuries by successive generations of the progressively enlightened (their achievements largely under-appreciated, or even ignored, by the current inheritors of that political legacy), is an unattainable and pointless goal — unless it can be demonstrated that such “democracy” necessarily weakens the hold of Islam, politically and socially, on those in thrall to it.
But what would even a cursory glance at Islamic states reveal? It would reveal that those who were best at constraining Islamic supremacism were despots — enlightened despots, but despots. They include Shah Reza Pahlevi of Iran, who greatly improved the treatment of non-Muslims in Iran, and who tried, fitfully, to emphasize the pre-Islamic past of Iran, so that even his self-celebration at Persepolis, that spectacle in which so many foreigners took part (the English director Peter Brook, I recall, may have been the guest metteur-en-scene), may be less deplored for its extravagance today, and seen as one more element in the attempt to excite the popular imagination with that pre-Islamic Persian past.
In Morocco , Mohammad V, as a Sherifian monarch (descendant of the Prophet), did not have to prove his Muslim bonafides, and could afford not to be fervent in his faith. In Tunisia, the hero of the nationalist movement, Habib Bourguia, established his one-party rule — the party being his creation, the determinedly secular Destour Party. His inheritors run what many do not realize is a police state, but a benign police state that makes Tunisia safe for advanced secular thought. Finally, the most successful of these despots determined to limit the power of Islam is, of course, Ataturk, who put in place a series of measures designed to systematically constrain Islam. His successors found it useful to create a Cult of Personality around Ataturk. The figure of Ataturk clearly replaces Muhammad just as the cult of “the Turk” replaces, or acts as a brake on, full-throated and therefore dangerous Islam.
All of these cases were ignored by the Bush Administration, for sentimentality about “democracy” is a useful arrow in the quiver of those who are mostly, at home, defenders of privilege. That the Administration was prepared to ignore the demonstrated wishes of the Framers on the role of Congress in war-making, and to continue a war that is opposed by at least 70% of the public, in a runaway-train scenario. (Bush is the engineer, stoking the engine, and intimidating Congress, preventing it from stopping him even as the very same misguided war in Iraq prevents Bush from acting, as he should, on the matter of Iran’s nuclear project).
The only result that constitutes “winning” in Iraq is that which will weaken the Camp of Islam that is trying to conquer the West. And the only way to obtain that result is to leave promptly. Forget all that stuff that the rulers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan keep prating about — of course they want the Americans to stay and to shore up the Sunnis. Of course many of the Shi’a still want the Americans to stay as long as staying means more tens of billions in aid, and the likelihood that the Americans will leave behind all kinds of military equipment to be inherited by the Shi’a-dominated government of “Iraq.” And of course the Kurds want the Americans to stay as long as possible, because ever since 1991 the Americans have protected the Kurds, and allowed their incipient state, now an autonomous and successful region, to flourish. But what this or that group of Muslims want for their own obvious purposes is not what a sensible Administration should want.
It should be thinking, everyone should be thinking: how do we weaken the forces of Jihad? How do we halt and reverse the demographic conquest, slow but speeding up, and if nothing is done inexorable, of the countries of Western Europe? How do we constrain the use of the Money Weapon, by Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Kuwait, Qatar, and other rich Arab oil states? How do we diminish the amounts available to be used to pay for Muslim propaganda, the buying-up of so many well-placed Western hirelings and apologists, the financing of so many Western academic “centers” like the infamous Esposito operation, the paying for mosques and madrasas everywhere, seen rightly as beachheads of conquest, as signs of increasing dominance, not merely as quiet places of private worship (the Western notion of “religion” does not fit Islam), the funding of lawyers to suppress or threaten or intimidate with lawsuits all who stand in the way of this well-financed Muslim effort, the campaigns of Da’wa that target the psychically and economically marginal, including the literally captive audiences of certain prison populations?
All of this has nothing to do with the expensive effort in Iraq, with its squandering of men, money, materiel, and morale, both civilian and military. For morale is plummeting, and the results can be seen in the rates of re-enlistment, and the quality of the officers and men who leave, not to mention the loss of trust between the Army and its civilian soldiers who have been treated so badly, misused with such arrogance and such contempt by those who think they can take whatever advantage can be taken of people who had no idea, in joining the National Guard and the Reserves, of how badly they would be misused and how indifferent was the Army to that misuse.
And yet here is Iraq, which offers on a platter two of the three great fissures in Islam: the Sectarian (Sunni and Shi’a), and the Ethnic (Arab and Non-Arab Muslim). Yet the Administration lacks the wit, and possibly the necessary intelligent ruthlessness, to see its opportunity and to take it. It need not do a thing for those fissures to grow and grow. It need only stop doing things, stop the squandering, stop the posturing, stop being so confused about Islam and the nature of this war. Yet those who prate about World War IV do not convince by their statements when they immediately show, in their unshakeable enthusiasm for the war in Iraq, that they have not analyzed the problem. They have decided that they will remain Bush loyalists and loyalists of a policy that does not makes sense. Indeed, if such policy were successful, if somehow Iraq could be held together and made the recipient of another 50 or 100 billion in what is so mistakenly called “reconstruction” aid by the long-suffering, unrepresented American taxpayer, who has no desire to shell out tens of billions for Iraq or other Muslims anywhere, it would do nothing to weaken the Camp of Islam.
The terminal error of the Administration, and of the kagans and kristols who have a personal stake, the stake of careerists, “career conservatives,” in pursuing this madness, should now be clear to everyone — not least to those, perhaps especially to those who are alarmed and also well-informed about the nature and permanent menace to Infidels everywhere, of Islamic Jihad.
Bush and Rice and the Administration’s loyalists in the so-called “conservative media” are not among them. They, you see, have too much at stake, because the size of the mistake that has been made is too colossal for them to own up as to how wrong they have been. They just can’t do it. Their careers, you see. Their lecture fees, you see. Their everything, you see.