The fires had not yet gone out at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a year ago, before the War Party had introduced its revised plans for American empire. What many saw as a horrific atrocity and tragedy, they saw instantly as an opportunity to achieve U.S. hegemony over an alienated Islamic world.
President Bush initially directed America’s righteous wrath and military power at al-Qaida. But in his “axis-of-evil” address, he signed on to the War Party’s agenda.
What lies ahead? When America invades Iraq, it will have to destroy Saddam and all his weapons of mass destruction. Else, the war will have been a failure. And to ensure destruction of those weapons, we must occupy Iraq. If you would see what follows, pull out a map.
With Americans controlling Iraq, Syria is virtually surrounded by hostile powers: Israel on the Golan, Turks and Kurds to the north, U.S. power to the west in Iraq and south in Jordan. Syrian President Assad will be forced to pull his army out of Lebanon, leaving Israel free to reinvade Lebanon to settle accounts with Hezbollah.
Now look to Iran. With Americans occupying Iraq, Iran is completely surrounded: Americans and Turks to the west, U.S. power in the Gulf and Arabian Sea to the south, in Afghanistan to the east and in the old Soviet republics to the north. U.S. warplanes will be positioned to interdict any flights to Lebanon to support Hezbollah.
Iraq is the key to the Middle East. As long as we occupy Iraq, we are the hegemonic power in the region. And after we occupy it, a window of opportunity will open – to attack Syria and Iran before they acquire weapons of mass destruction.
This is the vision that enthralls the War Party – “World War IV,” as they call it – a series of “cakewalks,” short sharp wars on Iraq, Syria and Iran to eliminate the Islamic terrorist threat to us and Israel for generations.
No wonder Ariel Sharon and his Amen Corner are exhilarated. They see America’s war on Iraq as killing off one enemy and giving Israel freedom to deal summarily with two more: Hezbollah and the Palestinians. Two jumps ahead of us, the Israelis are already talking up the need for us to deal with Libya, as well.
Anyone who believes America can finish Saddam and go home deceives himself. With Iraq’s military crushed, the country will come apart. Kurds in the north and Shi’ites in the south will try to break away, and Iraq will be at the mercy of its mortal enemy, Iran. U.S. troops will have to remain to hold Iraq together, to find and destroy those weapons, to democratize the regime, and to deter Iran from biting off a chunk and dominating the Gulf.
Recall: After we crushed Germany and Japan in World War II, both were powerless to reassume their historic roles of containing Russia and China. So, America, at a cost of 100,000 dead in Vietnam and Korea, had to assume those roles. With Iraq in ruins, America will have to assume the permanent role of Policeman of the Persian Gulf.
But is this not a splendid vision, asks the War Party. After all, is this not America’s day in the sun, her moment in history? And is not the crushing of Islamism and the modernization of the Arab world a cause worthy of a superpower’s investment of considerable treasure and blood?
What is wrong with the War Party’s vision?
Just this: Pro-American regimes in Cairo, Amman and Riyadh will be shaken to their foundations by the cataclysm unleashed as Americans smash Iraq, while Israelis crush Palestinians. Nor is Iran likely to passively await encirclement. Terror attacks seem certain. Nor is a militant Islam that holds in thrall scores of millions of believers from Morocco to Indonesia likely to welcome infidel America and Israel dictating the destiny of the Muslim world.
As for the pro-American regimes in Kabul and Pakistan, they are but one bullet away from becoming anti-American. And should the Royal House of Saud come crashing down, as the War Party ardently hopes, do they seriously believe a Vermont-style democracy will arise?
Since Desert Storm, America has chopped its fleets, air wings and ground troops by near 50 percent, while adding military commitments in the Balkans, Afghanistan, the Gulf and Central Asia. Invading and occupying Iraq will require hundreds of thousands of more troops.
We are running out of army. And while Americans have shown they will back wars fought with no conscripts and few casualties, the day is not far off when they will be asked to draft their sons to fight for empire, and many of those sons will not be coming home. That day, Americans will tell us whether they really wish to pay the blood tax that is the price of policing the War Party’s empire.