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Imperial Ambition, Poor Execution

In “The endgame on Iraq began a long time ago,” Thomas Barnett writes some shocking things:

This is Musab al-Zarqawi’s worst nightmare: the Americans safe behind their compound walls and everyday he’s doing battle against Iraqis, or-more to the point-against Shiites increasingly backed by Iran, no friend to the global Salafi jihadist movement, being as it is exclusively Sunni in make-up. Meanwhile Kurdistan gets stronger and the ‘failed state’ scenario for Iraq is reduced to its irreducible one-fifth outcome: the 20% of the population that’s Sunni live an existence you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy.

How on earth is this Zarqawi’s worst nightmare? Zarqawi will portray this as the US being unable to fight, unable to prevent chaos, and its all because of his guys with improvised weapons. The US will be humbled, and al-Qaeda will have notched its second superpower.

And lets have pity for, and apologize to, that 20% of Iraqis, and think about, right or wrong, who they’re going to blame. I think Zarqawi and company are to blame. I think the US had an obligation, after invading, to prevent the country from falling into civil war. George Bush knew that a civil war was likely. If only his son had listened to him. Continuing to quote Barnett:

Pretty it ain’t, but realistic it was always. Bush’s critics may crow about the ‘failure’ of ‘Jeffersonian democracy,’ but that asinine point won’t be remembered by history. What will be remembered is that Saddam was taken down, the pretend state of Iraq returned to its constituent parts, and the Middle East was never the same again.

We got what we wanted in Iraq, and we triggered plenty of tumult and change in the region. Now that the endgame becomes obvious to critics and supporters alike, the real question we need to ask ourselves is, What do we seek to accomplish next in the region?

Accomplish next? What did we accomplish? Iraq has been ripped apart, our allies in Turkey are focused on the Kurish state we built next door, and the Sunnis “live an existence you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy.” It’s true that Iraq was the product of Imperial Britian drawing lines on a map, but that doesn’t justify Imerpial America coming in and ripping it apart.

Now, Barnett has an interesting theory of a common set of perspectives which he calls “the core.” (Everything else is “the gap.”) Part of his theory is that the core should “pertube” the gap, that’s always riled me. Now I know why. He has no goal. He’s an imperialist, and, not liking the Bathist dictatorship, knocks it over, declares we’ve accomplished something, and thinks that more US meddling is a good idea?

Not, Who do we invade next? Or what do we seek to prevent? But what do we seek to accomplish? What better Middle East are we working toward?

Ummm, how about, and you know, just a thought…maybe we should have figured that out before “perturbing” things. Maybe we should fix what we broke before we go off and think “What better Middle East are we working toward?” Because with friends like this, I don’t know that you need enemies.

Now, I do think that we need to be working towards a better middle east. Except, following our stellar “wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy” performance, maybe we don’t get to imagine that. Unfortunately, the people of the region really don’t get to either. Their dictators and clerics do.

Raw, naked exercise of power is not going to win friends for anyone. Perturbation for its own sake, with “the Americans safe behind their compound walls,” is going to become the core answer to “why do they hate us?” It may become because we perturb their lives for our own purposes.

One comment on "Imperial Ambition, Poor Execution"

  • David Brodbeck says:

    This strikes me as a case of Barnett redefining the goals to match what’s already been accomplished, so he can declare success.
    If Bush had said, right off the bat, “We’re going to go depose Saddam, even though he’s not currently a threat, so that we can split Iraq up into separate states devided along religious and ethnic lines,” I don’t think he’d have had nearly as much public support.

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