David Brooks tells us today that American withdrawal from Iraq will leave a disrupted region in such a state that a general regional war initially centered in Iraq will result and he compares that coming war to the "Thirty Years War" which devastated much of Europe causing a loss of 50% of the population in some places.
I support this analysis whether he likes that or not.
I differ from him in two areas that are at least implied by lacunae in his screed.
1 – He shows no evidence of thinking that the situation in Iraq has passed beyond American ability to control events at the macro level. It is over, David, just over… No amount of blather can change that. Partition Iraq? Hah!! Iraq is well on its way to completing its own partition. Ethnic cleansing is underway throughout the country, neighborhood fights neighborhood throughout Baghdad while the Kurds look on with apprehension over American reliability. It is over. We should now look to our options in dealing with the wreckage of Mesopotamia and the "cockpit" into which we have made the Middle East. Immediate withdrawal? Not unless it is part of the answer in dealing with the wreckage. More trainers and advisers? Perhaps, if we think that reasonable relations with the Shia "rump" state of Iraq will be sufficiently important in the context of the "Second Thirty Years War" to warrant the expenditure in blood and money and the risks inherent in maintaining a smaller and therefore more vulnerable force in Iraq.
2 – Brooks is quick to condemn anyone who wishes to reverse the venture of American intervention in Iraq. He says nothing of the direct influence and prevalence of the neocons in causing the situation now prevailing in the Middle East generally and Iraq in particular. The neocons insisted and still insist (like old communists after the fall of the Berlin Wall) that their ideas were great stuff, a manifestation of the destiny of mankind, but they were poorly implemented. This is completely false. The situations that you see on the ground in Iraq and Lebanon are inherent in the cultural context of the Islamic World. The centrifugal forces of; sect, ethnicity, politics and region continually threaten all these states with disruption and chaos. The answer which that "culture continent" has found for itself over the centuries has been to accept (however grudgingly) the autocratic rule of "strong men." Brooks and his friends insisted to the "decider" that this tendency was more fiction than reality and that all that was needed to bring about accession of the Middle East to the Modern (democratic) World was a "hard knock." Well, we knocked and in the process removed all the restraints on the savage rivalries implicit in all Middle Eastern societies.
Perhaps someday there will be a Concert of the Middle East, but it will not be any time soon. Brooks and his friends are seeking to position themselves in such a way as to re-focus blame for catastrophe. This should not be allowed. pl