Okay, I can’t take it anymore. I’ve wanted Iraq to be a success from the beginning, I considered invasion justified by reasons of international law from the get-go, and in spite of these things I didn’t consider myself to have blood on my hands when the fighting didn’t stop after Mission Accomplished.
And yet. In the space of the past year in Iraq we have satisfied and chronologically surpassed all our benchmarks, arrived at the point at which winning would set in, and discovered that instead of winning virtually everything has gone backwards. Maliki, whose job was to kill off or demobilize all antinationalist militaries, has blown it, and he blames us for not giving him the tools. And the President phrases that blame as legitimate. And then we are to believe that foremost among these tools we should give the Iraqi government is time, when, as every military student since Machiavelli has known, time is the enemy of successful invasions and pacifications.
Time, more specifically, has already been best friend to Iran. What in God’s creation will make Maliki more likely to “forge a settlement that would be in American interests” when every passing day, in the act of ticking by, augments the power of the militias, strengthens the hand of Iran, and drives Iraq deeper into post-benchmark psychosis? The time’s come to recognize that Maliki, along with anyone and everyone else, including, clearly, the Kurds, can “seek out help” from America and Iran simultaneously, that is, hedge their bets in doing whatever seems expedient to patch together some semblance of basic order.
The language of that Person who Participated is flaccid with the same stupid nonsense about “sense of urgency” that we’ve now heard ten times over from all quarters. Creating a sense of urgency is so less important than creating actual physical urgency as to make one not sure whether to laugh or cry. Sense of urgency! Oh, if only Maliki seemed really worried! Then we’d be on our way! No, for good or ill the ultimatum of picking up stakes creates actual urgency, namely an urgent reclamation of initiative on the part of the USA and an urgent dumping of initiative upon the Iraqis left holding the bag. If this is a wretched idea it’s because — and only because — Iraq might become so hopelessly anarchic that the Middle East will implode, sucking every people but the Persians into a vast hellbroth. What’s likely to be the Study Group recommendation is not bad advice for any other reason; it cannot be.
The inability of Iraq to form a national army capable of even the pretense of monopolized force is their fault, not ours, and the position that this bedrock reality does not far overwhelm the ability of the government of Iraq to “forge a settlement” more in our interests than the recapture of our own initiative is one I cannot comprehend and will not support.