Nothing like a Fred Kagan Op-Ed

There just isn’t. Here it is in the Weekly Standard. Fred is one of the masterminds of the surge strategy (more correctly called an escalation but surge it is I guess).

What is helpful very helpful about this piece is that he clearly defines what is victory in Iraq–and what the bar set for McCain then must be in the general.

Virtually everyone who wants to win this war agrees: Success will have been achieved when Iraq is a stable, representative state that controls its own territory, is oriented toward the West, and is an ally in the struggle against militant Islamism, whether Sunni or Shia.

In debates with McCain Obama should take this article read it again and again and simply keep asking John McCain: Do you actually think this is possible? How? Explain how? At what cost? How long?

One obvious rebuttal of course to Kagan’s lunacy is that (surprise!!!!) all of the political groups in Iraq are Islamist*** (as he defines the term). Excepting the Kurds in their autonomous zone of course. They are all militant theocratic groups. From the Shia middle and upper class groups that rules the country, is pro-Iranian (sorry about that “looking West” piece)–i.e. Maliki and Hakim–to the lower class Shia theocrats, the Sadrists. To the Sunni theocratic groups.

The country (or countries as I imagine will take place) will be ruled by “Islamists”. All throughout the Arab world the choices are between dictators (e.g. Hussein) or Islamists (post Saddam Iraqi political groups). Egypt. Jordan. Saudi Arabia. Syria. West Bank.

Just go down the list. Check, check, check. The only difference is where the dictators are the Islamists (i.e. Iran), which of course means that country alone has the capacity to become a post-Islamist regime. But not Iraq. Some imagined third party “liberal democratic” party will not take hold prior to the US invasion because the US supported dictators who iced the moderates out so they would stand as a bulwark against the radicals. After US occupation, they are seen as proxies/5th columns for the West. They lose either way. That US policy in Iraq is predicated on their victory is the pipe dream of all pipe dreams.

So rather than admit that we turn what are theocratic groups (like Maliki) into the “legitimate” government. Dictators in Saudi Arabia and Egypt become “moderate” Arab states.

Iraq–again I don’t think the country holds together under its current geographic lines–might become a “moderate” Islamist country: moderate relative to others I guess. Or follow a Turkish model of national-Islamism. Iraq over decades may become a Poland to Iran’s Soviet Union.

But that course is its own to follow. I just don’t think that with a US army occupying it that will take place, nor no doubt with the influence of its neighbors. Everyone wants a piece of the former country. I think it will likely stay a dysfunctional state for a long time to come.

**On the use of the term Islamist. I don’t really like the term Islamist but I’m not sure unfortunately there’s a better alternative. Islamism (as one of my commenters engimatic101 correctly points out) is a Western term. It’s not one necessarily the people themselves would apply.

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Published in: on April 26, 2008 at 12:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

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