has not been America's second Vietnam: It has been America's Iraq. The
Americans have not lost the war there to al Qaeda or to an Islamic
Jihad. The Iraqi people reject the belligerents"Al Qaeda and the
U.S."equally. Do not, however, be in too much of a hurry to admire the
courage and wisdom of the heroic people of Iraq. For the most part, its
glorious Shiite and Sunni sons are busily slaughtering each other with
unbelievable cruelty and efficiency.
It is not easy to decide what their real motivation is: whether a
theological dispute about the destiny of the Twelfth Imam, fond memories
of the unity of their communities under Saddam Hussein, or a fight to
control future oil revenues. With every new mass murder, however, the
spiral of violence is given another twist, which makes fresh bloodshed
They seemed almost to have forgotten about the Americans during the
summer. American losses were very low at that time, but increased
sharply in October to over 100 deaths when America tried to interpose
its troops as a kind of shield between rival militias in Baghdad.
The absurdity of the present mission of American troops in Iraq is now
evident. They are dying in an attempt to prevent two groups of fanatics,
which equally hate America, from killing each other.
Shortly after the Nov. 7 mid-term elections this absurdity will be
terminated irrespective of which party is the more successful. The
likelihood is that the Americans will reduce their military contingent
and redeploy it to a more or less loyal and even friendly Kurdistan,
leaving the Sunnis and Shiites to slug it out.
Almost inevitably, the confrontation between Sunnis and Shiites will
spread in one way or another, drawing in most of the countries of the
These highly probable developments in the coming months will also have
consequences for Russia.
The Russian political elite (and, indeed, its counterpart in Europe)
will view the collapse of America's attempt to advance democracy in the
Middle East with profound gloating satisfaction. There will be a very
considerable financial windfall for Kremlin rulers due to Russia's new
found status as an "energy superpower." This will come from the
inevitable surge in oil prices when such oil-producing countries as Iran
and Saudi Arabia are drawn into the conflict on different sides.
For these psychological and financial pleasures of its "elite" our
country is likely to pay a high geopolitical price. Let us not forget
that other war in Afghanistan where there seems to be a great coming
together of all the drug-producing forces of society, from the Taliban
to the generals of the former Northern Alliance to the close relatives
of President Karzai, on a shared platform of hostility towards NATO.
NATO, on which we rain curses daily and which we do our best with war
cries to drive from its bases in Central Asia, is far from creeping up
on Russia through Georgia and Ukraine. Right now, with its last, failing
strength, it is protecting the southern borders of Russia's Commonwealth
from the advance of Islamic radicals.
In the context of Iraq's failure, evident Pakistan capitulation to and
collusion with the Taliban and growing Western casualties, liberal
Western public opinion, both in Europe and in North America, will demand
the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, and the Russian
political elite will experience its last profound moment of
satisfaction. Having left Afghanistan, NATO as a military and political
institution will cease to exist.
The Islamic radicals, however, inspired by another historic victory,
will move to unite with their brothers in the faith in Kyrgyzia,
Tadjikistan, and Dagestan. They will foster a rebellion in the Fergana
Valley and other hotspots where the ground has already been prepa