Fear must be coursing through President Bush’s veins as he realizes the Iraqi trap in which the neocons have placed him. Bush is caught between an Iraqi civil war and a wider insurgency.
Desperate to extricate himself from the weekly carnage well before the November election, Bush can neither deliver on his promise of democracy via direct elections nor impose his plan for an Iraqi assembly elected indirectly by caucuses.
If Bush delivers on his democracy promise, the Shi’ites with 60% of the population will be elected, and the country will break out in civil war. If he tries to water down Shi’ite representation with his plan for an assembly elected indirectly by caucuses, the so far peaceful Shi’ites are likely to join the violence.
If the Shi’ites become violent, the insurgency would be too large to be contained by our present occupying force. Moreover, the outbreak of a general rebellion in Iraq would spill over throughout the Middle East where unpopular secular rulers are sitting on a smoldering Islam. Our puppet in Pakistan would likely bite the dust. Israel would then face countervailing Muslim nukes.
If you think more US troops are needed now in Iraq, imagine how many more would be required to deal with a wider conflagration. Where would they come from? The US military is already so thinly stretched that soon 40% of the occupying troops will be drawn from the National Guard and reservists, resulting in tremendous disruption in the affairs of tens of thousands of families.
Pilots and troops are shunning the cash bonuses offered for reenlistments. The troops recognize a quagmire even if their neocon overlords cannot. The only source of troops is the draft.
A Shi’ite insurgency that brought back the draft would deprive Bush of reelection. A civil war with the prospect of a Kurdish state would bring in the Turks. On January 14 Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said that Turkey will intervene in the event of Iraq’s disintegration.
The Shi’ites and the Turks are forming an alliance as both have the same interest in maintaining the geographical integrity of the Iraqi state. The US could come dangerously close to military conflict with a NATO ally.
All of this was perfectly clear well in advance of the ill-considered invasion. If Bush wasn’t smart enough to see it, why didn’t his National Security Advisor or his Secretary of State? How did a handful of neocon ideologues hijack US foreign policy?
Bush did not campaign on a neocon policy of conquest in the Middle East. There was no public debate over this policy. The invasion of Iraq was the private agenda of the neocons.
Why have the neocons not been held responsible for their treason in abusing their presidential appointments to substitute their personal agenda for America’s agenda?
Bush has been the neocon’s puppet for so long that he is now stuck with responsibility for their horrible mistake. With no way of his own to get out of his trap, his arrogance toward the "irrelevant" UN and our doubting allies has disappeared. Come bail me out, he pleads.
Bush, desperate to be extricated before doom strikes him is experiencing a reality totally different from the chest-thumping of neocon megalomaniacs, such as Charles Krauthammer, who declared the US so powerful as to be able to "reshape, indeed remake, reality on its own."
Bush now knows that he lacks the power to deal with the reality of Iraq. Indeed, Bush cannot even deal with his own appointees.
Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy, Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.