I heard a good program today on Left, Right and Center. In the course of the discussion, I think the 'left' brought up a good (wider) argument.
The commentator made the point that the public has 'bought the lie' that invading Iraq has something "directly" to do with the "War on Terror" (beyond the 'spreading democracy' argument -- which is wishful thinking at best).
His argument goes as follows.
To start, our government considers Iran the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today. The fundamentalist Islamists there have called for Muslims to kill American's for more than 20 years. In the 80's Saddam was our ally against the "Islamist extremists" based in Tehran.
Chalbi (a Shia), the man (until recently), who was supposed to be the Iraqi George Washington, has given SECRETS to Iran... and has a summer home in Tehran. He's currently part of the new Iraqi government.
The Ayatollah al Sistani is a Shiite -- who ranks even higher than the supreme leader in Iran... In fact Sistani was born in and studied in Iran. He is and will be the most influential leader in that Shiite dominated society.
The Badr Corp, Shiite vigilantes that help to "keep the peace" in southern Iraq are closely tied to Iran and their Republican guard...
The bottom line is this: the people who will hold the majority of power in a new Iraq will be closely aligned with the seat of state sponsored terrorism: Iran.
First - By invading a mostly Muslim country you create a somewhat self fulfilling reality: you create Islamic insurgents/terrorists. We created an enemy in Iraq. That enemy simply had nothing to do with the terror attacks in this country. Yes -- I'm sure most of the people in Iraq's Baath party hated us, but they didn't attack us and really didn't have the means to (they were completely contained by our forces and those of our allies). This makes Iraq a distraction from the real threat.
Second - While there are foreign jihadists in Iraq, American soldiers are mostly dying at the hands of Former Regime Elements (FRE) - Baathists and nationalists -- fanatics to be sure, but probably not hard-core Islamists -- in most cases. Again, we are engaged with an enemy we created -- and killing this enemy has NOTHING to do with killing terrorists that would attack us here at home. The nationalists are deathly afraid of a Shiite dominated Iraq.
Third - If this is a War... why are only about 150,000 American's really involved? Why did the administration cut taxes on those who have benefited the most in this country while middle and lower class send their sons and daughters overseas (how many members of congress have kids in the service??) What have ordinary American's been asked to do to help win this struggle that is likely to last a very very long time?? (Like maybe make more fuel efficient cars to reduce our dependancy on foreign oil? - nah)
So, in the new language, this is a war against violent extremists. But we are in Iraq helping to consolodate the power of a group of people who are closely aligned with those in Tehran -- the very people that WE DEFINED as Islamic fanatics. ... But, at the same time we say we are 'fighting terrorists/Islamic terrorists' in Iraq. It simply doesn't compute...
So what happens a few years after we leave?