by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
January 11, 2007
THE NEW IRAQ STRATEGY: TOO LITTLE, BUT NOT TOO LATE
There is no easy way out of Iraq, and no easy way to strike an agreement for peace with that misguided part of the Muslim world that wants to destroy America and all it represents.
At the beginning of this war, Israeli hawks and their American counterparts - Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and the American-Israel Political Action Committee, among others - seized the post 9/11 agenda and sought to direct it so as to reduce threats to Israel while exacting revenge against the inchoate panoply of anti-American fundamentalism throughout the Middle East. Whatever the merits of their original plans and however elevated their motives, their strategy has brought us to ruin.
Since we were going to be out in the neighborhood looking for bad guys, these sharp-edged hawks observed, we might as well shore up the Israeli war against Palestinians by becoming supportive witnesses who would justify the war that Osama bin Laden has said was the cause for his attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. That would be no problem, the Bush Administration let them know.
For three full years of the war against Palestine, American foreign policy has been quietly supportive as Israeli tanks and troops rolled into and out of Gaza and the West Bank, leaving large numbers of casualties in their wake. Each discussion of a truce became contingent on some new impossible Israeli demand that the Palestinian government could not meet.
Despite investigations of American-Israeli Political Action Committee leaders for espionage, the fountain of benefits that accrue to politicians who support Israel kept flowing, and the American policy establishment remained firmly in the hands of the hawks.
Tonight's address by President Bush is the grim midnight of the moral and political corruption that instigated the War in Iraq. It is no accident, of course, that its progenitors will be standing at a safe remove while the President symbolically admits defeat. We have perfected the processes of democracy sufficiently to be able to abandon a sitting President engaged in a foreign war but not so well that the claque who advised him are also repudiated. The stage is thus perfectly set for the destruction of a man and a policy that are both fully deserving of contempt. But what of our problem?
"Problem?" many Democrats will ask. The removal of American troops is most comfortably imagined as the removal of a thorn from the paw of an angry lion, as the old fable has it. More accurately, we are removing a spear from the side of a fierce warrior, whom some people presume will become less fierce once his injury has healed.
They may be right. Osama and his millions of fundamentalist militants may cheer our departure from Iraq and then begin to build a pan-Arabic Islamic empire that will rule from the Bosphorus to the Pakistani border, from the Persian Gulf to the Muslim states of the former Soviet Union for centuries to come. An America that retreats from the task of being the neighborhood ally of Israel in the Middle East can then go about becoming the less affluent and more diverse capital of Latin America's northern outpost. Or maybe prosperity will return to the United States, we will recover our industrial and manufacturing base, and our children will become more educated and more faithful to their country's founding values, possibly through watching videos on YouTube. Then the Muslims will like us, terrorism will stop, and there will be war no more.
Realistically, America is at a crossroads that has become the focal point of competing political agendas in which our country is loved less and our party is loved more. The polarization of America through the medium of its political parties could not have come at a more dangerous and decisive time. This nation unwisely ignored the advice of George Washington in his Farewell Address to never let political parties run the country, and now we reap the treacherous harvest; Democrats must act against our national interest in order to affirm our newfound strength. The war is a political bone the ravenous dogs of our two-party system shall proceed to tear apart.
In a more rational climate, it could not be more clear that American interests in the world are hinged upon the strategy the President will announce tonight. He does not propose a retreat, but a wider engagement with less exposure, at least as reported by the New York Times this morning, which said the 20,000 new troops he sends to Iraq will be there in support of Iraqi units, not as frontline combat units. It is almost the reverse of the development of the conflict in Vietnam; advisers come last, not first, and as we retreat, not escalate.
Our own belief is that the President is not sending enough troops; we believe a minimum of 40,000 fresh soldiers is needed to gain a significant edge against the insurgency. and that while they must be diligent about training Iraqi troops to take their place eventually, they also need to accomplish one major objective: the arrest of Muqtada al-Sadr on long-standing murder charges. That single effort may cost the lives of a thousand troops, and yet all the efforts of all the troops who have fought there will come to naught if it is not done.
Just as President Bush once needed a symbolic victory in the arrest of Saddam Hussein to establish his supposed competence, the Iraqi people - and the Muslim world - need to know that the undermining of a secular state by murder and insurgency is unacceptable and will be resisted. When that is accomplished, we believe the back of the insurgency will be broken, and that the Iraqi government elected last year can move forward as the legitimate authority in Iraq. That single achievement, we believe, will derail the dangerous consensus that is forming in and outside of Iraq for a partition of the country respecting the ambitions of Kurds, Shias and Sunnis. The lessons of history - of North and South Korea, North and South Vietnam, Northern Ireland and the Republic, India and Pakistan - are never more compelling than when they warn against partition as an instrument of foreign policy for the resolution of religious and political disputes.
When Muqtada al-Sadr and his vicious insurgency is brought to the dock, America can leave Iraq with precious shreds of its dignity and self-respect intact. Until that day, the half-efforts of the President's new strategy and the urgent defeatism of our fellow Democrats only delays the day of reckoning and increases the cost in blood and treasure that America must pay for its foolish reliance on the pro-Israeli hawks who got us there. As for Israel, perhaps our capture of al-Sadr and the disarray of his insurgency will inspire it to make new efforts to resolve its war against the Palestinians and its dispassionate antagonism to Lebanese nationhood, and to ask less of us and more of itself in the war against terror.