Sunday, November 19, 2006

Unknown unknowns becoming known knowns

Stay the course


Cut and run

It no longer makes any difference. It's too late. Either course will eventually, irrevocably come to the same end: civil war in Iraq. The question is no longer if there is civil war in Iraq but whether it will escalate to include the rest of the Middle East.

When Bush and his Neocon idealists thought they could make reality conform to their expectations, I knew nothing about Sunnis or Shiites. We all have had to learn if we wanted to understand what was really going on in the Neocons' naïve power play.

I suggest to anyone who's reading this of a recent story that appear in the WaPo. It is like the news report of George Kennan's Long Telegram, which foretold the Cold War. However, unlike Kennan’s letter, the story offers no suggestion of a means to keep the coming war cold.

Bush and especially Rumsfeld wanted to prove Bush senior was a wimp and his decision not to evade Iraq in the first Gulf War was a blunder. Instead, they have proven the opposite. What had seemed a bumbling, mental light-weight has become a subtle genius of foreign policy. Rumsfeld wanted the army to do more with less, but instead, he proved that Bush senior was doing more by doing less. His misjudgment of the elder Bush’s understanding of foreign policy was reflected in his misjudgment of his own understanding of foreign policy. He shouldn’t have been so quick to dismiss “Old Europe” thinking.

Bush does deserve dubious credit for proving U.N. sanctions work by invading Iraq. We know with out any doubt Saddam was not developing WMD's, and that he had gotten rid of the ones he had. You don't get proofs like that in the real world. Thanks a lot, George. Since you’ve proven sanctions and diplomacy was working with Saddam, how about we use that approach with North Korea – what say?

One of the most chilling lines in the WaPo story was a reference to an advisor to Saudi Arabia who urged the Saudis:

…to warn Iran “that if these activities are not checked,” Saudi Arabia “will be forced to consider a similar overt and covert program of its own.”

Ultimatums can’t be far behind, and as the story indicates, Saudi Arabia is not the only one with interests in what happens in Iraq. Iraq may be the first victim in a larger war.

The story brushes on a topic that many Sunni Arabs already know. Shiites are using the Israeli problem to advance their position in the Islamic world, and the headquarters for this strategy is Tehran. Also, will Syria sacrifice world peace for the Golan Heights? Will Iran sacrifice the Shia’s stake in Islamic power for nuclear power, which they neither need nor really want? If Iran gets the bomb, can Saudi Arabia do otherwise? The hate for the Israelis is a newcomer in age-old hates. Growing up seeing footage of protest crying “Yankee Go Home!”. Iraq offers the unique situation in which locals hate each other more than they hate Americans.

In the coming war, Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites need to realize what Ho Chi Minh knew and preached to his communist comrades. The French and the Americans would be way much easier to kick out of their country than the Chinese, so don’t forfeit your future by allowing you neighbors to move in.

Bush’s legacy may be one that he would not have chosen had he fully understood the more ominous aspects of the Pottery Barn metaphor. That’s one of those “unknown unknowns” his key foreign policy implementer mentioned in rationalizing early bad news.

One more thing before the Americans leave: the Iraqis are the freest they have ever been or will be – enjoy it will you can, as much as you can until the civil war destroys this way of life; you will miss it after the Americans are gone.
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