In 2003 I thought I had a fair idea of the geopolitical and
socio-economic thinking behind the United States' operation in Iraq.
The Americans knew perfectly well that the main sponsor of the terrorism
confronting them was Saudi Arabia, and that the main ideologists of the
Jihad were the Wahhabi clerics. They were inhibited from publicly
stating this obvious fact, in part because the American economy was
highly dependent on Saudi oil, and in part because the Saudi lobby in
Washington D.C. is immensely influential.
After the overthrow of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, a new,
pro-American government would be assisted to revive the oil industry.
Iraqi oil would flood onto the world market, knocking the stuffing out
of the Saudis, and allowing the United States to adopt a very different
tone with its "sworn ally." There is no telling whether such a logical
plan really existed in 2003, or whether, as has often been the case in
the past, the pressure leading to a decision to go to war was the
resultant force of a dozen nonsensical causes. It does not really
What does matter is that a conceptual catastrophe has led to a paradox.
Never before has the military and economic might of the United States
been more impressive; and never before has the United States been so
weak, irresolute, vacillating, isolated from its traditional allies,
generally bamboozled and to all intents and purposes impotent on the
international political scene.
The situation in which the Americans find themselves in Iraq is absurd.
They have been drawn into a civil war in which they are trying to
prevent two groups of fanatics, both of which hate America, from
butchering each other. Opinion polls tell us that 67 percent of Iraqis
applaud attacks on the Americans. This statistic appears in the Iraq
Study Group report presented by James A. Baker and Lee H. Hamilton.
That 67 percent is a very uneven average, derived from 0 percent in
Kurdistan, where the Americans are viewed as liberators, and 85 percent
in the rest of Iraq.
It is worth saying that today the figure would be 0 percent among the
Shiites too if it had not been for an act of perfidy by the United
States at the end of the Gulf War in 1991. America called upon the
Shiites to "rise up against the tyrant," and then stood back as Saddam's
elite Republican Guard units drowned the ensuing rebellion in blood.
The ideologist of this treachery was the political realist, James A.
Baker, who thought in terms of maintaining stability and a "balance of
Today America's Saudi partners are urging, indeed, demanding that the
United States should continue to act as a buffer, protecting from the
Shiites the very Sunni insurgents who have been responsible for more
than 70 percent of American casualties. This is too much even for the
Americans, hidebound as they are by political correctness. They are
beginning to think, if not yet to say out loud, that the centuries-long
conflict between the Sunnis and Shiites might just be as neat a
strategic opportunity for them as the Sino-Soviet conflict was in the
years of the Cold War.
The real players here are not the Sunnis and Shiites as such, but Saudi
Arabia and Iran, the two regimes which most actively sponsor and
organize anti-Western Islamist Jihad. They are a kind of Islamist
version of China and the USSR in the 1970s, in confrontation with the
West, but hating and fearing each other even more.
In today's Zeitnot in Iraq, when time is running out for America, and
almost Zugzwang, when it faces being forced into a move that will cause
it to lose the game, the only sensible thing to do is to redeploy
American troops to pro-American Kurdistan. Their function would be to
guarantee the security of a territory where, through their own efforts,
the Kurds have created a land at peace, and to mount special operations
against al Qaeda terrorists and other sundry internationalists in other
parts of Iraq.
The Sunni and Shiite sons of the Iraqi people, if such a people can
meaningfully be said to exist, need to come to terms on their own,
without the involvement of outsiders whom they wish to murder.
The Iraq Study Group's recommendation to prolong the delights of being
the buffer in someone else's civil war for a further year before finally
pulling out is no solution in either political or strategic terms.
The diplomatic recommendations of Mr. Baker's team of realists are even
more ridiculous. The U.S. is advised to ask for help from Iraq's
neighbors, Iran and Syria. Help with stabilizing the situation in Iraq?
If either of them had any interest in that they would have been working
on it long ago. To assist America's mission? Both regimes hate America
and would take great satisfaction in maximizing its humiliation.
They might, of course, in the best traditions of the oriental bazaar,
make promises, but they would extract a high price. Iran would want
nuclear weapons, and Syria the Golan Heights and Lebanon. Mr. Baker has
already put the Golan Heights on the negotiating table in one of the
paragraphs of his report. As regards Lebanon, where Syria is working
hard to overthrow the democratic government through the agency of
Hezbollah, Mr. Baker is prepared to surrender the country to the Assad
family"again. That was the price paid for Syria's participation in the
anti-Saddam coalition of 1991.
The crowning piece of well-intentioned idiocy in the diplomatic section
of the ISG report has long been parroted by almost everyone in
Washington, and by absolutely everyone in Europe. It runs to the effect
that we must go back to the root of the problems which so perturb the
Islamic world, and that these are primarily the failure to resolve the
conflict between Israel and Palestine. We must redouble our efforts to
revive the peace process on the basis of the road map agreed by the
What are they going on about? True believing Muslims in Iraq are
abducting and brutally murdering each other, boring into people's skulls
with electric drills (the patent for this belongs to a Shiite "patriot,"
Abu Deraa), and it's all supposed to be the fault of the Jews? In fact,
the devious formulation of these Western politicians conceals a sneaky
little thought: "If we surrender Israel, do you think they will leave
us in peace?" Well, no, actually, they won't. This is a war, and it is
a war not against Israel but against the West. Iraq has been the West's
Dunkirk in the Fourth World War. What comes after Dunkirk? Certainly,
it was not the end of the Second World War.
America is weighed down by its failures, the absence of a clear
strategy, the hatred of its enemies and the exultant malice of its
friends. This malice is taken to absurd lengths by its politically
correct left-wing intelligentsia who dominate the mass media. But if
America loses its nerve now, the days of the West as a free and
independent civilization will be numbered.