This piece was written in July 2005 and published by “Thought Mechanics” – then a vigorous national blog. I have seen much more thorough analyses than this, but the end-point may still be the same. After a year-and-a-half, have any of the issues changed?
This is what White House press secretary Scott McClellan said very recently when asked about the results of a new poll taken by the Pew Research Center “I think the American people understand the importance of completing the mission; success in Iraq will help transform a dangerous region.” No doubt McClellan is speaking for President Bush and his entire administration. The PEW poll found that 43% said that the US would win the war while 32% said the US can’t win the war. A more important question to address might be – “Is the region more dangerous today than before the war?” If the region is more dangerous today then one has to wonder what “win” means. The statements by the Bush administration and the opinions of the polled public do little to reveal the severity of the situation in Iraq. It really doesn’t matter anymore if Bush lied about reasons for going to war, or whether or not we should back our troops. The real issue surrounding our presence in Iraq can be stated quite simply – what can we do to prevent Iran from taking over Iraq or, at least, the Shiite dominated, oil-rich provinces south of Baghdad?
I am not an expert on the Middle East. Perhaps naively, at this juncture I see Iran’s dominance of Iraq as the only issue of importance from here on. It seems unimaginable that our pre-war intelligence and the White House would not have considered this outcome as a risk to going to war. Yet I have not heard any commentary about this scenario in talk shows or by politicians on either side of the issue of the invasion of Iraq. Could it be that we invaded Iraq because intelligence indicated Iran’s intent to take over Iraq? In deed, it is commonly known that the US supported Iraq in its 8-year war with Iran (1980-88) because it became wary of the Tehran regime after the Iranian revolution. Then Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the US intervention, and subsequent sanctions against Iraq leading up to the US war in Iraq all but destroyed Iraq’s role in preserving military balance in the Middle East.
Now we have a situation where if we leave Iraq militarily, we face the real possibility that Iran will take a weakened Iraq by subversive force and/or military force. It could be that this is the reason we did not invade Iraq in the first US gulf war - that is, to maintain Iraq as a balance for Iran. Critics have suggested that the decision NOT to ‘finish the job’ in the first Iraq war was an historic failure of the first Bush administration. I am just guessing, but the decision NOT to finish the job was possibly strategic out of concern about Iran. Now that we are trying to finish the job in Iraq at great expense to the American taxpayer, what monster will we create? Will it be a unified Muslim state of Iran-Iraq? It’s not difficult to envision the economic and military potential of a combined Iran-Iraq. Will this unified state of Iran-Iraq dominate the Middle East and absorb the rest of the surrounding Arabic countries? Will we then be forced to defend other Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and perhaps even Israel? Or go to war simply on the principle of our need for oil? The answers to these questions could be YES. This is why the Bush Administration’s policy in Iraq is a resounding failure. If our intelligence had discovered intent by Iran to take over Iraq before the war, I am sure that this would have been revealed by now. So our policy in Iraq has made no sense and we are faced with the possibility of a remarkable turn of events in the Middle East combined with a significant weakening of US economic power, military strength, and worldwide respect.