Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Iran, Lebanon, Middle East, War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 1:37 pm

As a subhead to my post below on Iraq reconstruction, I immediately received an email from one of my faithful lefty correspondents who accused me of trying to “whitewash” the Iraq War. The consistency of this fellow’s idiocy would be astonishing if I didn’t keep in mind he is, after all, a liberal who has thrown out his knee by jerking it so often over the last 4 years everytime I fail to write about our “catastrophic defeat” in Iraq.

This time, he took me to task for daring to think as an historian rather than a partisan boob like him when I mentioned that the judgment of history won’t be known for a decade or so about whether the Iraq war was a net plus or minus to our strategic interests. No matter how things look today, a decade hence things will look quite different due to decisions we have made these last 6 years in Iraq.

Which decisions? And how will things look in the Middle East a decade from now? If anyone could answer those questions they would not be historians but rather stock touters as they would be able to predict the future and could really clean up in the market by putting that gift to good use.

All we can do is look at conditions today. Attempts to extrapolate from there and guess how things might be 10 years from now are fun but hardly relavent in that unrelated events that occur in that time frame may negate or augment decisions made by the US in Iraq. An example may be what we are going to do about Iran who has been emboldened and strengthened by our poor decision making in Iraq but who may find themselves less an influence in the region if the US military goes in and smashes things up. Admittedly, this is now a remote possibility but it highlights the manner in which unfolding history can throw everyone’s predictions of the future into a cocked hat.

Jules Crittenden, reporting on Bush’s surprise visit to Iraq, refers to Mr. Bush taking a “victory lap.” This drew a response from Bill Quick on Jules’ blog that I believe is the best, most concise, tour d’horizon of the consequences involved as a result of our invasion and occupation of Iraq that I’ve seen in a while. (I hope that neither Jules nor Bill minds that I have reprinted the entire comment here):

Jules, I have a problem with the generally accepted metric for “victory” in Iraq, to wit:

Ask yourself this: do you think, absent 9/11, we would have invaded Iraq? I don’t.

Since 9/11 was the proximate cause of our invasion of Iraq, what “victory” was in invasion in service to? The defeat of Iraq alone? Or as part of a larger project, the defeat of Islamofascist terrorism? I perceive it to be the second, and the Bush administration repeatedly confirmed this.

Viewed in that context, is what we have in Iraq a victory, really? We worried about Saddam getting nukes, but as a result of the Iraqi invasion and subsequent years of bungling, the US government has lost the will and the ability to stage any further military adventures, no matter how grave the situation, and so real enemies like Iran now stand on the threshold of acquiring nuclear weapons. Further, how long do you think your “victory” in Iraq will hold with a Shia government in which large parts are heavily influenced or controlled by Iran, and operating next door to a nuclear Iran?

Here’s where we stand today:

Iran: still an Islamofascist hellhole, a rabid enemy of the US and Israel, and about to go nuclear.

Syria: still the same America-hating Baathist regime, now heavily influenced and controlled by the Iranian regime.

Lebanon - a shattered checkerboard of factions, partly occupied by Hizb’Allah, (which is in large part controlled by Iran), a deadly threat to Israel and with major potential for staging Islamist terror attacks elsewhere.

Saudi Arabia - threatened by Iran on the one hand, and half-controlled by the Wahabi Islamofascists on the other. Still funneling money and men to Islamofascist terror gangs.

Pakistan - disintegrating even as we watch, and probably headed for a takeover by its most militant and anti-American Islamist factions, along with its nuclear arsenal.

Afghanistan - slowly sinking back into Islamofascist savagery, as the Taliban and its allies retake everything but the most heavily defended cities.

Osama bin Laden/Ayman Zawahiri/al Qaeda: Still alive, still in business, and effectively operating from their own nation of Waziristan.

Iraq: Enjoying a temporary respite from battle, but governed by a shaky coalition in which the Shia are by far the most powerful leg, and of which Shia many are under the control and/or influence of the soon-to-be nuclear next door neighbor, Iran.

And a host of problems with Islamofascism looming elsewhere, of which I am sure you are aware.

You may see Iraq as a “victory” but, within the context of the larger war against Islamofascist terror, I don’t. And I have to ask: Do you? Really?

I have minor quibbles with Bill’s gauging the strength of the Iranian faction among Iraqi Shias (present but influence on the wane?) and perhaps Hizbullah’s ability to hurt Israel militarily (a “deadly threat?”) but otherwise, Quick correctly asks where victory might be found in all of this. The bar has been lowered so much over the years that now simply being able to leave Iraq on our own pretty much qualifies as a “victory” along with a few other modest benchmarks.

We have not ceded the battlefield to terrorists or insurgents. There is a ever more confident and robust Iraqi government in place (how free is a matter of debate). How much of an “ally” in the War on Terror Iraq will be may also be up for discussion in a few years.

In short, when the last combat troops depart in 2011, we will be leaving behind a third world nation, riven by factions that could blow up into violence later, and with a wary but friendly relationship with our deadly enemy Iran. Victory? Perhaps so expansive a word should not be used for such a narrow success.


Excellent discussion among some conservatives on the issue of Iraq victory at Jules’ blog.


  1. We fell in a hole and managed to pull ourselves back out. That’s not victory, that’s us getting back to the starting point — but muddier.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 12/14/2008 @ 2:58 pm

  2. Sobering. Sobering indeed.

    Comment by gunjam — 12/14/2008 @ 3:28 pm

  3. I’m actually shocked that anyone would accuse you of being optimistic on Iraq. I truly appreciated your honesty in the last article that you reference. I’m pretty far right and I’m a Bush fan, but that doesn’t mean I need blinders or that I don’t want the truth. That said, I notice people have selective memory regarding Iraq. I remember reading in Newsweek that Iraq’s jets were stepping up attacks (crowding, etc…) by 400% the month Bush took office. It seems apparent to me that Hussein was attempting to provoke Bush into a confrontation and that he thought Bush would never have the political will to follow through on. I don’t agree that 9/11 was “the” cause of the US invasion of Iraq, I believe that Hussein caused a US invasion by refusing to honor the peace accords that he had signed. 9/11 created the political will, but the writing was on the wall. In my opinion, the US would have already suffered another 9/11 if there had been no show of US force in the middle east. I don’t have half the education that you and Mr. Crittendon have, so I am probably in the wrong on this. I still think all of these nations would have stronger al queda factions if the US hadn’t taken action in Iraq.

    Comment by carolynp — 12/14/2008 @ 7:40 pm

  4. Overall Bill Quick’s assessment is very rational. Since we’re quibbling:
    (1) It is unclear where Pakistan is going politically, and according to recent reports they’ve chosen a different route on permissive action links than the U.S. did, physically separating the fissionables and the devices, at different sites if I recall correctly. (Looking for a citation). Perhaps they are positioning themselves for arsenal destruction if the political situation gets dicey. Wouldn’t want to bet on it though.

    (2) It is unclear how close Iran is to deliverable devices. There seems to be an element of national pride in the uranium enrichment program, and missile-deliverable (non-gun-design) weapons are a non-trivial engineering challenge involving testing, unless they take a shortcut, swallow pride, and use somebody else’s design. (FWIW, by this point the level of uncertainty in the amount of LEU produced by their current public centrifuges is or will soon be high enough that they could divert some to a covert program to enrich to HEU without being discovered, but an implosion design using HEU would involve testing.)
    Plus, it is possible that the Iranian program’s progress will suffer from “induced Murphy’s Law” incidents, or be more directly set back through bombardment.

    Comment by Bill Arnold — 12/14/2008 @ 8:34 pm

  5. I still think all of these nations would have stronger al queda factions if the US hadn’t taken action in Iraq.

    Al Qaeda is a 98% myth. Iraq was on the chopping block regardless of 9/11. That just made the process easier to sell to the American People.

    Comment by Chuck Tucson — 12/15/2008 @ 12:41 pm

  6. “Al Qaeda is a 98% myth”
    Hmmmm… i think the US troops in Afghanistan need to know this. just like the troops who fought in Anbar province.

    Dont forget to tell that to the Sunnis in Anbar either - i think they were all fighting myths.

    Imagine the amount of time and money the US has wasted investigating the 98% myth of Al Qaeda…

    Chuck, i hope the Obama administration offered you a job at the NSA - they need you.

    Comment by Nagarajan Sivakumar — 12/16/2008 @ 9:14 pm

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