My hunch is that if Iraq does not completely collapse into sectarian violence and anarchy within half a year, it will peacefully slip into the control of Iran. And a very real issue in next year’s presidential election is likely to be “Who lost Iraq?”
America spilled precious blood and treasure to eliminate Saddam Hussein. But we traded a perceived threat for what few at the time realized would be a costly nation-building nightmare. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell famously warned about Iraq that if “we break it, we own it.”
In the heady early days of the Iraq War, it sounded like annoying carping, but it was exactly right. And we broke Iraq well. It’s still broken.
George W. Bush’s Wilsonian impulse to spread democracy and “nation-build” sprang from a belief expressed by Bush several times that all people want to live in freedom. And that is certainly not true.
Thirty-nine people died in Christmas day bombings in Nigeria because an Islamic terrorist group called Boko Haram demanded that “democracy and the constitution…be suspended."
Every people group does not want democracy. Some simply want more food or for someone else to die. Some are devoting their lives to the implementation of Islamic Sharia law, which brings backwardness, slavery, and barbarity.
In Iraq, the terrorist bombs started going off as soon as the last American troops were out of the country. The attacks last Thursday on majority Shiite areas are suspected by some as part of an Iranian-backed plot to re-ignite civil war against minority Sunnis.
Iraq’s Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, has been forced to hide in Kurdistan after being accused of murder and terrorism by the Iraq’s Shia-dominated government. Al-Hashimi speaks convincingly about how Iran has already successfully infiltrated the government and the Iraqi military, and is behind the false charges against him. A delegation of Iraqi generals went to Iran last month to explore greater military cooperation between the two countries.
Some argue that Turkey and Saudi Arabia will never allow Iraq to fall under Iranian influence, but that may be hard for them to prevent, when Iraq and Iran share such strong religious ties and a long border.
And if Iraq collapses or becomes a defacto satellite of Iran, a very toxic public debate will commence in this country over whether all those young American men and woman died in vain for a failed nation-building project half a world away, and who is responsible for “losing Iraq.”