- The Washington Times - Monday, December 19, 2005

Was that a hallucination we suffered last week at the quagmire? All those millions of, what were they, happy Iraqis, joyous Iraqis, turning out to vote? Well, not just to vote, but to elect a government in accordance with the constitution they approved two months ago, the first truly democratic government in the history of the Arab Middle East? And not just the Shi’ites and Kurds, whose suffering under the regime of Saddam Hussein was especially harsh, but also Sunnis, who dominated the old Ba’athist government and have been trying to figure out where they fit into the new constitutional order.

Well, something sure didn’t make sense. After all, didn’t the GOP-majority U.S. Senate, only a couple of weeks ago, approve a resolution calling into question the efficacy of the U.S. effort so far? Didn’t Rep. Jack Murtha, the decorated Vietnam veteran who is generally thought to have a pipeline to the views of the uniformed services, assure us that we needed to get out of Iraq now, redeploying over the horizon? Didn’t Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, come out in favor of withdrawal, a reflection of her view of the abysmal failure of a mistaken war? Didn’t Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, assure us that we were doomed to lose in Iraq?

We’ve all heard the worry that the internal political situation in Iraq, now as previously said to be on the brink of total collapse, would deteriorate into civil war. But what about the journalists and professors who have lately been stepping forward to assure us that the civil war is happening now, because what else would you call carnage on the scale that Iraq has experienced since the fall of Saddam? And shouldn’t we expect Iran, any day now, to use its vast influence with Shi’ites across the border in Iraq to further destabilize the situation?

You think Iraq is bad now. And how long will Turkey sit idly by as its worst nightmare, an increasingly autonomous Kurdistan, takes shape across the border? Isn’t a regional conflagration each day more likely? Isn’t that what we have been hearing? Isn’t it simply obvious that the only thing the U.S. military presence is doing is fanning the flames of hatred toward the United States, both in Iraq and throughout the region? Isn’t the real U.S. accomplishment to have taken a state in which al Qaeda was inactive and drawn the international jihadis in?

And after the civil war breaks out in full force and the United States, taking heavy casualties, retreats because the military situation is no longer tenable, isn’t the most likely result a failed state dominated by al Qaeda in Iraq’s Sunni provinces? A state that will give the bin Laden faction what it has not had since Afghanistan, namely, a safe haven for operation — truly safe, because this time, the American people will have no patience for political leaders proposing that they embroil themselves in Middle East politics any further?

And indeed, haven’t many Democratic foreign-policy intellectuals assured us that a date certain for withdrawal — and not one conditioned, as per Bush administration policy, on the further development of Iraqi security forces to deal with the insurgency — is the only way to make Iraqis take their plight seriously and stand up for themselves, as well as the only way to save the United States further humiliation from its disastrous policy? Haven’t these critics promised that at least a shred of U.S. credibility will remain if we just inform the world that what we have embarked on is “strategic repositioning,” not retreat? Surely all these people know something, right? Surely this is not a case of people responding to the situation on the ground in Iraq in accordance with their pre-existing partisan, ideological or theoretical conclusions about what’s happening there.

I mean “partisan conclusions” in the sense that, for example, the lying Bush administration misled us into an unnecessary war and has never been straight with the American people about its true objectives.

I mean “ideological conclusions” in the sense that, for example, a cabal of neoconservatives hijacked the Bush administration for its campaign of neoimperialist warmongering aimed at remaking the world in accordance with American preferences conveniently redefined as universal.

I mean “theoretical conclusions” in the sense that, for example, we would be better off had we installed a strongman in the place of Saddam Hussein, and never mind about constitutional democracy and other such Western refinements of which Iraqis and the people of the broader Middle East are incapable for reasons of history and culture and in which they have no interest in any case.

No, surely all of this is not some tendentious exercise in portraying a difficult, complex, unfolding but still hopeful military and political situation as a mistake wrapped in a miscalculation surrounded by a disaster shrouded now in chaos? OK, so the third paragraph of approximately every news story about Iraq is about an explosion: That doesn’t mean we were supposed to conclude that every third event in Iraq is an explosion, does it? Or does it?

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