Thursday, January 25, 2007

What He Said!

Harold Meyerson is a left-of-center columnist for the Washington Post who has no particular portfolio. Even so, he delivered yesterday one of the most insightful, dispassionate analyses of our flawed policy in Iraq. His term for that policy is "world class incoherence." Read on--if you want the entire article, it is "Our Delusional Hedgehog," from yesterday's WAPO:

"In the war itself, meanwhile, our current policy has achieved new depths of senselessness. The administration is lining up support from our longtime Sunni allies in the region -- Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt in particular -- as a buffer against the spreading influence of Shiite Iran within Iraq and across the Middle East. Inside Iraq, meanwhile, we have cast our lot with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a sectarian Shiite with long-standing ties to Iran, and hedged our bet by cultivating the support of another Shiite leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who is even closer to Iran.

Hakim heads the Iranian-backed Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). His deputy, Adel Abdul Mahdi, was in the running to become prime minister until the head of SCIRI's rival Shiite party, Moqtada al-Sadr, threw his support to Maliki. According to a New York Times report on Sunday, some administration officials are discussing quietly shifting our backing to Hakim's party. Others oppose this, pointing out that the raid in which U.S. forces seized Iranian operatives in Baghdad last month took place within Hakim's own compound.

More broadly, our plan for stability in Iraq is to bolster whichever Shiite administration governs the country, no matter its closeness to Iran, in the groundless hope that it will establish nonsectarian order. Our plan for stability in the region is to enlist Sunni states to contain Iran. These plans cancel each other out.

This isn't an example of Kissingerian subtlety -- waging the Cold War, for instance, by tilting toward China over the Soviet Union. This is an example of world-class incoherence, entirely of our own making. We charged into Iraq with some dim sense that Hussein's successor government would be headed by representatives of the long-persecuted Shiite majority, but we assumed that comity would prevail between the Shiites and the displaced Sunnis. Then we rendered that dicey proposition all but impossible by sacking the Iraqi army and most of the civil service -- in effect, plunging the Sunni population into mass unemployment with no prospect of reemployment. We fed the Sunni resistance, which fed the Shiite retaliation.

Now, we are stuck backing an Iran-friendly Shiite sectarian regime in Iraq, even as we plan to spend hundreds of millions in aid to the Lebanese army to fend off the Shiite sectarian forces of Hezbollah, and even as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice scuttles from one Sunni state to the next in an attempt to build a firewall around Iran. This is foreign policy as nonsense, as the American people have apparently figured out."

Here we are, standing in the middle of a civil war largely of our own making, backing BOTH SIDES simultaneously in various ways. WTF??!!


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