Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Trading One Statue For Another?

As in Saddam Hussein's for Adolph Ahmadinejad's:

To take back the capital from the militias that now terrorize it will take thousands, not hundreds, of American plus tens of thousands of Iraqis. No sector in Iraq can spare the loss of so many forces (our current troubles in Anbar date back to the decision in 2004 to shift troops from Anbar to the siege of Fallujah - when they returned, they discovered that every pro-US informant and ally in the province had been murdered, usually horribly and publicly). So a real plan for success in Baghdad will have to be built upon additional troops from out of area, potentially raising US troop levels back up to the 150,000 or so of late 2005.

Manifestly, neither the Administration nor the Congress will contemplate such a move. Which means, most likely, continuing violence in Iraq and a continuing rise in the power of the militias, especially the Iranian-backed Shiite militias: the Hezbollah of Iraq.

What then? Well, then ...

Uncontrolled militias (some of them working tacitly with the pro-Iranian Islamists at the Ministry of the Interior) will wage intensifying war against each other.

The Sunnis will use random terror: car bombings, suicide bombings, kidnappings and massacres.

The Shiite militias - supported by their friends in the Ministry of the Interior and in the police forces - will respond with increasingly coordinated terror, such as that
which killed dozens of Sunnis
in the al-Jihad neighborhood on July 9. It is hard to imagine that a few hundred American advisers can put a stop to such atrocities.

As the tide of urban warfare turns in the Shiites' favor, those Sunnis who can flee the city will do so .

Gradually, Baghdad will come to look like Basra, Iraq's Shiite-dominated second city, now effectively ruled by Iranian-backed Shiites with the tacit acquiescence of the British military authorities.

Baghdad - and therefore central Iraq - will in such a case slide after Basra and the south into the unofficial new Iranian empire.....American troops will be free to stay or go, depending on whether we wish to deny or acknowledge defeat.

The doomsday scenario David Frum predicts is almost Buchananesque in its overwrought pessimism. As soft on the GWOT as the Bush Administration has become in its second term, refusing to even consider military options beyond the borders of Iraq, they have still done yeoman, and even herculean, work stablizing, rebuilding, and democratizing Iraq. It is that work for good and U.S. national security that the Iranians are going all-out to disrupt and thwart. And it is inconceivable to me that this president would allow a free Iraq to be snatched out from under our very noses and glommed into a "Greater Persia." Dubya will do what needs to be done to pacify Baghdad. Count on it.

Unfortunately that is the least that he can do if he is to take any action at all. I argued three full years ago at that our military machine needed to keep right on rolling over the Iranian and Syrian borders ("a war to go on and on") in order to finish off the last of the "terror masters" and win the war. One of the members there, a Democrat dissident, called my argument "madness." Yet look where we are just three years hence: Iran has nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles purchased from North Korea; they're gearing up to manufacture nukes of their own; they're inexorably subverting free Iraq; and they're using Hezbollah and Israel to drag us into a military showdown on their terms that they are convinced with messiahnic certitude that we don't want to fight and that they, therefore, cannot lose.

I argued then that it was madness to delay attacking Iran and Syria because they would, inevitably, attack us. Looks like another "See, I told you so" for me.

A shame it's so bitterly pyrhic.