Conquering Baghdad, Losing the War
Beyond the reflexive
French-bashing that is popular now is the huge majority of French who don't
support the war on Iraq, neither do huge majorities of Italian, Spanish, German,
and almost every nation in Europe, even eastern Europe. Same in Asia. Somehow in
each of those countries and around the world, people can see that the war is
based on shaky grounds, like oil, corporate goals at companies like Halliburton,
and a grand strategy that is
Islamic terrorism over the past couple of decades has flourished because the clerics have succeeded in confounding it with local issues. In Kashmir, the corruption of local officials and the economic malaise due to the constitutional uniqueness of the state merged into the movement for an independent Islamic state when the mullahs successfully blamed India and the local Hindus for all the state's problems rather than bring to task their own corrupt leaders and integrate better with the economic progress in the rest of the nation. In Palestine, the Islamic forces blame the Palestinian plight on Israel, rather than on their own history of violence and lack of initiative. Just look at the economies of all the Arab states that have oil. Did Israel do it to them too? Then look at the IMU and Hizb-ut-Tahrir in Uzbekistan. Those groups have thrived on the economic stagnation and political repression of Islam Karimov's government, which perpetuates Stalinistic trends from the old Soviet Union. They have convinced many Uzbeks that Islamization will solve all their problems.
After September 11, there was a strong reason to believe that people around the world were able to draw that fine line and distinguish between the goals of the Muslim ummah and local problems that can be resolved much more easily without that confounding factor.
The long term (even near
term) effect of the war on Iraq is going to be the re-confounding of these
issues, and a new synergism between anti-US and Islamic ummah forces. We have
lost the chance to help people around the world demarcate those lines and
isolate and go after the Islamic ummah groups one by one. An example is that Al
Qaeda despised Saddam (and the rest of his coterie) before, but now they have
held their noses and are supporting
President Bush doesn't appear to have the capacity to understand these complexities, neither does the US media. The President never fostered a discussion of why focus on Iraq vs. other nations, and what would be the costs vs. benefits of this war. The US media has simply allowed him to spoon-feed them.