The long road to victory
Caroline Glick, JPOST
[..] Since Iran and Syria view the US as their enemy, their ideal scenario is for the US to bleed in Iraq while propping up a weak Shi’ite government that has no inclination or ability to threaten them. That is, for Iran and Syria, the current situation in Iraq aligns perfectly with their interests (which explains why they are working so diligently to maintain it).
As for the Arab world, the administration believes that since the Arabs oppose Iran’s quest to become a regional nuclear power, they will help the US both in stabilizing Iraq and in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Here too, the administration confuses common interests with common agendas. The fact that the Arabs share common interests with the US does not make them allies. As a young Saudi imam put it this week to The Wall Street Journal, “We are waiting for the time to attack [the US]. Youth feel happy when the Taliban takes a town or when a helicopter comes down, killing Americans in Iraq. It is a very dangerous situation for the US in the whole Muslim world.”The fruits of America’s disorientation were revealed in last month’s three Saudi summits: the Hamas-Fatah summit, the King Abdullah-Ahmadinejad summit and the Arab League-Iranian summit.
Since last summer’s war between Israel and Hizbullah and more intensively since the publication of the Baker-Hamilton Commission report on Iraq last November, the Bush administration has been advancing a vision of an anti-Iranian Arab coalition, which will join forces with America to confront and defeat Teheran.
There has been no rational basis for this view since the Saudis, Egyptians and Jordanians responded last year to Iran’s nuclear advances by announcing that they will get their own nukes. But it took last month’s diplomatic cavalcade in Saudi Arabia to finally destroy the fantasy.
First there was the Hamas-Fatah summit in Mecca where Abdullah undermined the US by promising to pay Hamas terrorists a billion dollars in exchange for their agreement to let Fatah terrorists be their junior partners in government.
If that wasn’t sufficient proof that Abdullah is not a friend, there was his warm and fuzzy love-fest with Ahmadinejad.
Their meeting shocked Israeli, American and British intelligence services, who perceived it as the culmination of a progressive Saudi estrangement from the US. It was preceded by a massive expansion of Saudi ties with China and Russia.
Any notion that the US could expect assistance from the Arabs in contending with Iran disintegrated a week later when Abdullah and Mubarak enthusiastically signed onto the Arab League and Iranian statement referring to the US presence in Iraq as an “illegal occupation.”
Yet for all their overt anti-Americanism and competition with Iran to see who can destroy Israel first, the Arabs have not become Iran’s allies. They do not want Iran to win its war against America. They want to play Iran and the US against one another. That is, the Arabs are implementing the double containment strategy that the US should have adopted toward them.
THE FACT of the matter is that the Americans are capable of learning from their mistakes. This week, the commander of US forces in Iraq General David Petraeus published a letter to the Iraqi people ahead of the fourth anniversary of Baghdad’s fall. In it, he discussed the anti-American rallies that Sadr organized from Iran.
As Petraeus put it, “On this April 9th, some Iraqis reportedly may demonstrate against the coalition force presence in Iraq. That is their right in the new Iraq. It would only be fair, however, to note that they will be able to exercise that right because coalition forces liberated them from a tyrannical, barbaric regime that never would have permitted such freedom of expression.”
In the end, the protests were ill attended. Now Sadr is whining that he will pull his support for the government as US forces destroy his militia in Diwaniyah and daily release information about Iranian support for the insurgency.
The success the US is now experiencing in Iraq is the result of a process of identifying and correcting mistakes. If such learning could take place regarding the US’s regional strategy, there is every reason to believe that it will contend successfully with Iran and the Arab world. But to correct mistakes it is first necessary to recognize them.
The US is not failing to contend with Iran because it went to war in Iraq. It is failing because it is implementing policies that prefer imaginary silver bullets to real solutions for real problems.
There are no shortcuts in this war. But victory is still waiting at the end of the long and difficult road.