Still a Believer
Sully, depsite his continued daily attacks on the Bush adminstration, still believes in the Iraq War and that there is hope that it all may end up well after all. Here is why: For all this, however, it remains true that the past few months in the Middle East have not been without opportunity and even some hope. The training of Iraqi troops is slowly, painfully, bearing some fruit. An American soldier is unlikely to recognise a Syrian accent on the street, and see an insurgent. A trained Iraqi soldier can. The primary goal for the American forces in the immediate future (other than training Iraqi troops) is protecting the economic infrastructure — oil pipelines, the electricity grid. Unemployment, meanwhile, is dropping fast. [...] There are already divisions within the insurgency between former Ba’athists and the jihadist foreigners who commit some of the worst atrocities. The mass murder of Muslims, even in mosques, by the Zarqawi forces in Iraq has prompted Al-Qaeda leaders to worry that their cause might be tainted in the minds of the general population. One result of the increasing violence might actually, therefore, work to the advantage of the government. After all, many Sunni Arabs are educated, relatively wealthy and contemptuous of the Jordanian and Saudi fanatics who are clearly using their country for a broader, deeper jihad against the West and any non-Wahhabist Muslims. Meanwhile, the chief backer of the insurgency, the Assad regime in Syria, is increasingly isolated; and the Iranian president is so deranged in his fanaticism that even his rivals in Tehran’s elite have begun to describe him accurately as a fascist. What if Assad falls — or the Ayatollah Sistani model of moderate secularism in Shi’ite Iraq helps bolster reformists in Iran? For that matter, declining support for the war in the US can also be used by shrewd American interlocutors. Khalilzad can tell the Shi’ites and Kurds that if they don’t co-operate and reach out to the Sunnis they could be left by the Americans to fight a brutal civil war against the remnants of Saddam’s military. All these options are now in play — and they present opportunities as well as perils. Am I being too optimistic? Maybe. But some perspective is in order. You can concede the huge errors and pig-headedness of the Cheney-Rumsfeld strategy in Iraq. But it remains the case that 80% of the Iraqi population is enthusiastic about the federal democratic state. Reconciling the Sunni elite to minority status, after decades of privilege, was always going to be a problem, however well or poorly the occupation went. There is more. Go read the whole thing.