- The Washington Times - Monday, January 2, 2006

Noise from the political poles of American politics has increased lately. Emboldened by both Scooter Libby’s indictment and presidential poll-inspired suspicions the Iraq war may soon drag President Bush into the same dangerous depths that the Vietnam War dragged Lyndon Johnson, liberals seem to be dancing in an almost perpetual political jubilee, for now.

In contrast, conservatives both previously mutinous about Harriet Miers’ failed Supreme Court nomination and increasingly mutinous about a nonmilitary federal budget expanding roughly 300 percent faster than during the Clinton administration begin to publicly wonder where their movement is going and who will lead it in 2008.

This political turbulence threatens to overwhelm, if only for a short while, what may be George Bush’s most abiding legacy: a close strategic alliance with a Shi’ite and Kurdish-led supermajority in Iraq that soon will achieve national independence one way or another with U.S. help.

Notably, the Iraq war meets history’s definition of a successful war overseas: traditionally, great nations have intervened in foreign theaters to (1) accomplish salutary national objectives and (2) simultaneously serve the aspirations of the host country’s emerging majority.

Consider the history of successful military intervention by the great powers. During our own Revolutionary War, for example, France’s interest in weakening the British also served America’s interest in winning independence from Britain. Similarly, during the Truman administration’s intervention in the Greek Civil War between communists and would-be republicans, Harry Truman’s goal of containing the Soviet empire also served Greece’s interest in reviving its democracy.

Neither France nor America used their overseas armies in these wars to accomplish the goal now urged by many prominent liberals and conservatives alike: dictating the particular national aspirations of the host country’s majority or supermajority by minutely dictating its new democracy’s structure, constitution and constitutional rights. France, for example, did not use its army and navy to demand that George Washington become like the French king by also becoming King George, just as Truman did not seek to enfranchise more Greek communists (as many liberals now urge President Bush to enfranchise more Sunnis) by decreeing that Greece conduct national elections within smaller legislative districts.

Also consider the history of the great powers’ failed foreign wars and related military debacles: These wars usually failed because the invading country supported a faction or collaborating government that an emerging supermajority opposed. In the Algerian and Vietnam wars, for example, France and America harmed their national interests by opposing genuinely widespread national independence movements without obtaining anything for their nations, except Algeria’s and Vietnam’s enmity and thousands of dead French and American soldiers.

Under this historical prism, does the Iraq war advance the interests of the host country’s emerging supermajority, the first traditional criterion for successful military intervention overseas? Clearly, it does: Both Iraqi Shi’ites, 60 percent of the population, and the Kurdish minority (another 20 percent) strongly support the presence and steady reduction of U.S. troops while Iraq’s newly elected parliament assumes control.

Iraq’s most popular national and spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, not only supports the presence of American troops during this time but has ordered all Shi’ites to vote in every American-supported Iraqi election to date.

Iraqi Sunnis have also joined the Shi’ite and Kurdish supermajority supporting U.S.-sponsored elections. During the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum, voter turnout was approximately 88 percent in Iraq’s Salahuddin Province, Saddam Hussein’s birthplace. Similarly, turnout for this referendum in Nineveh, another Sunni-majority province, was about 58 percent. National voter turnout for the subsequent Dec. 15 parliamentary election increased from 58 percent in the previous election to approximately 70 percent, an increase Iraqi officials attribute to a surge in Sunni participation.

Even Sunni terrorist groups, such as the Ba’athist Islamic Army of Iraq, now call for cessation of attacks on polling places.

Finally, does the Iraq war meet history’s second criterion for successful military intervention: advancing the invading country’s vital foreign policy interests? Plainly, it does. George W. Bush’s much-pilloried Iraqi war is steadily (1) cementing an alliance with a democratic, Shi’ite, and Kurdish-led state that could transform Iraq into our second stalwart Middle Eastern ally after Egypt; (2) making this Iraqi alliance a potentially lethal backyard dagger against al Qaeda in its Middle Eastern homeland, especially as al Qaeda and fellow travelers continue inflaming and multiplying their Arab enemies by striking at Iraqi Shi’ites and Sunnis; and (3) establishing a much-needed, Western-supported and -financed buffer state and counterpoise to Iran’s brutal theocratic dictatorship, whose president recently decreed Israel should be “wiped off the map.”

Because the Iraq war advances fundamental U.S. interests that also coincide with an emerging Iraqi supermajority’s domestic aspirations, history may well view Mr. Bush’s foreign policy as a worthy successor to that of Truman, by design or accident.

Gregory Page is a free-lance writer, professorial lecturer in law and former visiting associate professor of law at the George Washington University Law School.

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