Thursday, November 02, 2006

Peters Throws in the Towel on Iraq

Ralph Peters, formerly one of the biggest supporters of President Bush's ill-considered campaign to "democratize" the Middle East by invading Iraq, finally concedes that which has been obvious to most observers for months:

Iraq is failing. No honest observer can conclude otherwise. Even six months ago, there was hope. Now the chances for a democratic, unified Iraq are dwindling fast. The country's prime minister has thrown in his lot with al-Sadr, our mortal enemy. He has his eye on the future, and he's betting that we won't last. The police are less accountable than they were under Saddam. Our extensive investment in Iraqi law enforcement only produced death squads. Government ministers loot the country to strengthen their own factions. Even Iraq's elections — a worthy experiment — further divided Iraq along confessional and ethnic lines. Iraq still exists on the maps, but in reality it's gone. Only a military coup — which might come in the next few years — could hold the artificial country together.

This chaos wasn't inevitable. While in Iraq late last winter, I remained soberly hopeful. Since then, the strength of will of our opponents — their readiness to pay any price and go to any length to win — has eclipsed our own. The valor of our enemies never surpassed that of our troops, but it far exceeded the fair-weather courage of the Bush administration.

Yet, for all our errors, we did give the Iraqis a unique chance to build a rule-of-law democracy. They preferred to indulge in old hatreds, confessional violence, ethnic bigotry and a culture of corruption. It appears that the cynics were right: Arab societies can't support democracy as we know it. And people get the government they deserve.

Unfortunately for the thousands of American and Allied soldiers who have lost their lives and limbs, and for US taxpayers who will have to foot the bill for this incredible mess, those who supported and urged the President to invade Iraq failed to contemplate the considerable cultural requirements for maintaining a democracy - all of which are nonexistent in Islamic cultures. Instead, the neocons were motivate by a quasi-religious belief that all the peoples of the world share the same "love" of freedom. No one in the White House, apparently, bothered to ask if this lofty, but vacuous, rhetoric was actually true. Sadly, even the most cursory glance at history - not to mention Islamic history - would have revealed such sentiments as nonsense. Instead, they became the bedrock of US foreign policy, much to America's detriment.

Parse President Bush's own words (circa November 2003) for compelling evidence of his delusional view of global realities.

It should be clear to all that Islam -- the faith of one-fifth of humanity -- is consistent with democratic rule. Democratic progress is found in many predominantly Muslim countries -- in Turkey and Indonesia, and Senegal and Albania, Niger and Sierra Leone. Muslim men and women are good citizens of India and South Africa, of the nations of Western Europe, and of the United States of America.

By 2003 it was clear to anyone who was actually paying attention that Islam was most certainly not compatible with democratic rule - and was certainly not a "religion of peace" as the president was oh-so-fond of repeating. Since this speech was given, incidentally, the wonders of Islamic democracy had produced sweeping electoral gains for the Islamist radicals in Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq. In Palestine, democracy led to the sweeping victory of Hamas. Polls of Muslims in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Europe consistently find strong support for terrorists and a vicious hatred for Western Civilization and for the U.S. in particular. All available evidence - already manifest in 2003 - indicates that when given a chance, Muslims will vote into power Muslims whose goal is the imposition of Islamic law, and the eventual end of democracy. As for Muslims being the "good citizens" of India, Europe and the U.S., one suspects the events of July 7, 2005, March 11, 2004, and countless bloody bombings in India have revealed that remark as simply asinine.

Iraq, the centerpiece of US policy in the Middle East, has failed. Iraqis are intent on turning their country into a charnel house of internecene tribal and sectarian conflict - in short, resuming their historical norm. The sooner the US leaves, the better for American interests. The real question facing Americans is whether anyone in the administration responsible for the waste of life and money caused by the Iraq debacle will suffer any consequences at all. Will the vice president or secretary of defense be sacked? Will they so much as issue an apology? Don't count on it. After all, this is the same administration that presented Medals of Freedom to George Tenet and Louis Freeh, two men who presided over the worst intelligence failure in U.S. history.

Rumsfeld, Cheney and their subordinates may well end up with medals around their necks, even as Iraq collapses into civil war.