By Alan Caruba
Guess who’s going to be in Iraq for a very long time? If you said the United States, you are right. One doesn’t invade a nation without taking on long term obligations.
Thanks to a Clinton Administration initiative we are, after all, still in Kosovo. Whether there will be a unified Iraq in the years to come is up to the people who currently constitute that nation, but it’s worth noting that what was Yugoslavia is now Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, so don’t be surprised if Kurds decide to declare independence, followed by the Sunnis and the Shiites.
Thanks to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, Iraq was literally an invented nation, put together without any attention to the wishes of those who lived there.
On November 26, President Bush signed a deal that set in motion the draw down of most of the U.S. troops currently in Iraq. By July—well before the national elections—the troop total will be around 50,000 and they will be billeted outside the major cities. Add Iraq to the list of nations where the presence of American troops is actually welcome. The policeman of the world is everywhere because trouble is everywhere.
For everyone who keeps saying that Bush is a moron, he has just engineered a deal that completely eviscerates Democrat claims that the war is “lost” and who keep demanding we leave Iraq to the tender mercies of the insane Islamic jihadists. Since Iraq and Iran share a very long common border, the fact that there will be 50,000 battle-ready American forces next door is not likely to be lost on the Iranians.
The presence of U.S. troops in Europe since the end of World War II gave the former Soviets cause for caution and concern. History proves that strategically putting our guns and tanks in place actually works. Expecting the United Nations to achieve peace does not.
In the meantime, we can equip and train the new Iraqi military to become some of the toughest fighters in the region. As the Iraqis sort out their issues over oil revenue, they will need a strong army for national defense. Meanwhile, the Kurds are already putting out contracts (with American firms) for exploration to determine just how much more oil they have in their part of Iraq.
By the time this all plays out, the dynamics of the Middle East will begin to rather dramatically shift because Iraq will be a functioning democracy and an example to others that self-government can work as opposed to the top-down sheikdoms and dictatorships of the region. Arabs everywhere will take notice.
In essence, America will have quite literally “connected” the Middle East to the rest of the world, albeit at the point of a gun. I would remind you we did this in World War II by decimating both Germany and Japan, and then guiding them toward becoming thriving democracies and economies.
As Iraqi oil begins to flow, watch the price of a barrel begin to fall to more realistic rates. It sits atop the second largest known reserves in the world.
The “unknown” in this scenario is Iran, but if the remaining Bush neocons can just resist bombing Iranian nuclear facilities, we may yet achieve a long-term goal of undermining its regime and seeing a democratic Iran emerge.
And this is what it is all about, thinking long term. The crybabies in Congress who want to leave are thinking about November 2008. The realists are thinking about 2028.