Sunday, September 7, 2008

Victory in Iraq

9/7/2008--Hallowed Secularism is strictly non-partisan. But, of course, I am not. I am a liberal Democrat. My post today is not meant to be partisan, but its implications clearly are.

We are hearing about victory in Iraq. Certainly the surge worked and the security situation in Iraq is greatly improved. But whose victory is this? The answer is first the Iraqi people. They are rid of Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately, the next winner is not the United States or Israel. The winner is Iran. What is emerging in Iraq is a stable pro-Iranian Shiite government. This is "victory". But it is a victory that harms U.S. interests and weakens Israel. We did Tehran’s dirty work in ridding Iran of a Sunni enemy in their backyard. A strengthened Iran now supports Hezbollah and Hamas and threatens to build a nuclear weapon.

That is why this war was such a terrible mistake. The Bush Administration expected something else. They expected a secular liberal Iraq that would make peace with Israel, be friendly to the West and demonstrate a tame form of Islam. They failed, and they did so at great cost. And the fact that John McCain cannot see this, the same John McCain I have always so admired, shows why fighter pilots don’t always make good Generals.

The irony of all this is that the kind of Iraq the Bush Administration hoped for could still one day happen. What Iran lacks is real democracy. That is why the wishes of the people there are only imperfectly reflected in their government’s policies. But, in contrast, Iraq probably will evolve a real form of democratic life. In the short run, as with the election of Hamas, the result may harm the U.S. and its friends. But, in the longer run, something new may emerge. The Iraq war will still have been a terrible mistake. But even mistakes can have unpredictable consequences.

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