Michael Ware of Time magazine told Christopher Matthews this evening that after next week’s election in Iraq the US policy will be to force the inevitable government of Shia clients of Iran to accept Sunni nationalists into the government in positions and numbers that will insure a "peace-making" acceptance of that government by the people the president described as "rejectionists" at Annapolis a few days ago. Perhaps Ware did not say "force" but that was the idea.
Ware says that US military intelligence assures him that the American government has now accepted the idea that the Baath Party must be revived (without Saddam’s clique) because it represents the nationalist interests of the Sunni Arabs and many among the secular Shia Arabs. The neocon "agitprop" machine sold the American people the notion that the Baath Part was the reincarnation of the Nazi Party. In fact, the Baath exists all over the Arab World as a unifying force that spans religious differences, espouses modernism, and promotes the rights of women against traditionalism. Where did the image of the Baath as Nazi Germany reborn come from? Go ask the high neocons and their image maker operators. Go ask them. Don’t bother to talk to the fraudulent "little people" like Paul Vallely (See blog No Quarter).
This is the policy that we should have had from the beginning. I hope that it is not too late. The process of Shia political consolidation is now far advanced, and it may be that developments in Iraq are now beyond our ability to determine or significantly affect the end game. Why did we go down the "suicidal" road of seeking to bring our long term enemies to power as a satellite government of Iran? Simple. Read the works of Reuel Gerecht and his friends at AEI and the Weekly Standard. The neocon Jacobin crowd believed and still believe that Sunni Muslims are the "root of evil" in the Middle East and that the grip on power that they have maintained for centuries everywhere in the region but Iran must be broken to insure a transition to "democracy." Rubbish. "Democracy" used as code by these people means a forcible transition to a secular, Western way of life antithetical to everything in the majority tradition of the Islamic peoples. This is beyond our strength unless we are to accept the administration’s exhortation to a "generational" mission to do so.
Howard Fineman earlier told Matthews that it is the intention of the administration to begin to withdraw from Iraq after the election next week. Everything I hear from the military indicates to me that this is so. We will attempt a withdrawal from many areas in the contested Sunni Zone. What remains to be seen is whether or not the "Iraqi" forces will then face an empowered, stronger guerrillas movement operating in bigger units. If this is so, then we will have a test as to whether or not these "Iraqi" forces,which have not fought very well thus far and which are lightly equipped, can hold towns "vacated" (by us) against the rebels. Oops! (rejectionists). I suspect that they can not without considerable US support.
What happens then? Bob Baer told Matthews (good show tonight) that he thinks:
a- The Shia government is going to ask us to leave. (quite possible) He also said that if that happens, he thinks that the ultimate arbiters of the situation as it develops will be the government of Iran with its armed forces as a possible determinant. Baer said that he had been in Tehran this year and that the "Mullahs" spoke openly of their intention to intervene if necessary to protect Shia rule in Iraq.
b- Bob also gave his opinion that the Iraqi Shia would prevail in a struggle against the Sunni Arabs on the Sunni Arabs’ own ground. I think he is mistaken. A Shia triumph in the Sunni Zone would require the intervention of the Iranians. Numbers only count "so much" against nationalist fervor, popular support and a lot of prior military experience and skill.
How much can we influence the future in Iraq?
Some, but less every day.