Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The Ever-Changing Enemy
This is really a piece of work. According to the Bush administration, our enemy -- now known as Violent Islamic Radicalism -- is engaged in a pincer-like tactic, with Sunni extremists ("embodied by al Qaeda and its terrorist allies") on one side and Shiite extremists ("supported and embodied by Iran's Government") on the other. Their goal? To bring down Iraq's "young democracy". Of course, since the only thing keeping Iraq's "young democracy" (or Iraq's young anything, for that matter) viable is American armed forces, they're both doing everything they can to "drive us out". The danger is that, if they succeed in driving us out of Iraq, they'll be emboldened by our retreat and enriched by Iraq's billions of dollars in oil revenues, and thus more likely to carry out attacks here on the homeland. And if they succeed in driving us out of the Middle East entirely, well, why, then, all hell would really break loose.
Now, part of me wants to react to this the way I do when my six year-old son begins arguing with me about something that's just too farfetched to spend a whole lot of time on. Which is to tell him he can argue all he wants, he'll be as wrong when he's done as he was when he started.
But just for the heck of it, here goes. To begin with, as even the White House acknowledges, these two branches of radical Islamic extremism are "vying for control of the Middle East". (Think "Left Behind", only the semi-finals.) Which means they are adversaries (or rivals, or enemies, take your pick). A well-conceived plan would take advantage of that, by perhaps pitting one side against the other, instead of presenting them with a common enemy, thereby allowing them to advance their respective agendas without infringing on each other's turf in the slightest.
Second, given that the admittedly spotty UN embargo was able to essentially cripple Saddam Hussein's army, which benefitted from a state apparatus, does anyone really believe that non-state actors in a post-American Iraq are going to be awash in petro-dollars?
And finally, when has anyone (aside from Osama Bin Laden) talked about the US leaving the Middle East altogether? Oh, that's right. I remember when. Never.
All that aside, though, the White House's talking points on post-Surge progress (ie. "It Makes No Sense To Respond To Military Progress By Claiming That We Have Failed Because Iraq's Parliament Has Yet To Pass Every Law It Said It Would.") are a clear signal that short of Congressional intervention, President Bush is not going to pull the plug on the war. It's Bush's Folly. And the show must go on.