Barack Obama appears committed to the withdrawal from Iraq of the principal American fighting force in a strict 16-month time frame. One wonders if he has chosen to disregard the ominous portent of the consequences that are clearly on the horizon of such an action — or if he and his advisors are just ignorant of the facts.
The Shia-dominated Iraqi central government and parliament want independence from American influence as soon as possible. At the same time their ambition is to retain close enough relations with the U.S. so that they can use our assistance domestically and internationally. And they have no intention of turning over any of the $79 billion that Barack Obama keeps mentioning is in their treasury.
The Obama campaign has created a fictionalized Iraq political scene in which there are virtually no consequences to America leaving Iraq effectively on its own. Much has been made of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s statement seeking a U.S. pullout essentially along the Obama guidelines. If Barack Obama had even the slightest knowledge of Iraqi and Middle Eastern affairs other than the talking points supplied by his aides, he would have sensed immediately he was being ensnared in a typical Iraqi con.
That atmosphere that exists in Baghdad political circles today is best exemplified by the unfortunate situation in which a member of their parliament, Mithal al-Alusi, finds himself. Al-Alusi , the head of the Democratic Party of the Iraqi Nation, attended a conference on anti-terrorism in Israel in late 2004. For this “crime” al-Alusi was stripped of his parliamentary immunity and indicted under a 1950s-era law against subversion: this is a capital offense.
And this is the Iraq that Barack Obama believes can be left to its own devices in 16 months. The fact is that Obama and his left-wing, anti-war supporters want to get out of Iraq as soon as possible at any price. Obama has danced around this issue, changing the wording of his surrender and retreat, for no other reason than domestic political expediency. American security interests in the region never enter into his calculation.
Reality in the Middle East dictates that the centuries-old animosity between Sunni and Shia in the Tigris and Euphrates crescent is not going to be quieted by the creation of a Shia-dominated government in Baghdad. Aside from the presence of a powerful dictator, a colonial power, or the availability of a neutral intervention force (as envisioned in the strategy of Gen. Petraeus), there always will be conflict within this benighted part of the world.
CONTRARY TO THE ROSY PICTURE currently being drawn by the Bush White House for its own legacy purposes, Iraq remains a tinder box. There is no question that the U.S. simply can withdraw from Iraq and leave the country to deal with its own problems. Though he covers his plans with rhetoric, this is exactly what Obama intends. His entire concept is based on an expectation of the existence of a broadly accepted strong democratic central government.
Unfortunately the contest among the Sunni, Kurds and majority Shia will continue for what they believe is an equitable division of post-Saddam spoils. If the U.S. intends to remain a credible strategic power in the Middle East, an intervention-capable force must remain in place to prevent internal conflict in Iraq for an indefinite period. This is what John McCain meant.
With his eye as usual on political advantage, Obama has avoided addressing this issue. But he has given every sign of a willingness to believe Arab and Persian good will shall rule future regional problems.
Obama, Jimmy Carter-like, refuses to recognize the real world as opposed to his self-created universe of reasonable and fair-minded “international competitors.” Perhaps this is the reason he persists in ignoring the fact that the only thing Iraq as an Islamic country can agree upon is a hatred of Israel. As the U.S. leaves Iraq, Iraq will return again to an active role in the never-ending ambition of the Islamic world to regain control of their holy city of Jerusalem.
A FURTHER COMPLICATING FACTOR in the apparent Obama strategy for the region is the priority his advisors have placed on Afghanistan. The stated reason is that the Obama camp believes that is the best way to attack al Qaeda and its allies. In actuality, Obama himself is convinced the military issues are less complex, NATO is already involved, and, importantly, the Afghan operation is less expensive.
If Obama really wanted to focus on destroying Osama bin Laden, he would have emphasized the need to buy (rent?) the support of Pakistan. In doing that he would have recognized what all previous American administrations have done: that the key to Pakistan’s political process has always been the military and whatever civilian allies they chose. Pakistan is now and always has been democratic in name only.
Putting it kindly, the social internationalist (or is it international socialist) vision of Barack Obama is rooted in his own ignorance of the realities of world affairs. His perception of and plans for Iraq exemplify this.