I told you so.
I say that not to gloat--events in Iraq are too hideous for that--but rather to make the following point about this unending nightmare on our TVs.
Anyone who spent 15 minutes Googling, say, “History of Iraq” should've seen years ago how this would play out. As I wrote in August of 2003, “if majority rule flowers in Iraq, Shiites will run the place, as they do in Iran. That's who the majority is.”
That's the reality, and given enough time, reality will trump dogma every time. Witness the final unraveling, this week, of Bush's plan for Iraq.
* Violence spikes, with well over 100 dying daily, on average, and many more tortured in ways too horrible to show on TV.
* Colin Powell calls it a civil war.
* Iraqi President Jalal Talabani meets with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
* A leaked memo from Bush's National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley suggests Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki "is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action,” regarding violence.
* Maliki skips Wednesday's meeting with Bush and King Abdullah II of Jordan.
* Instead, Maliki and Bush meet the next day.
* Combative Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr--the country's most popular Shiite--withdraws support from the Maliki government.
* The New York Times reports the Iraq Study Group, led by long time Bush family friend, James A. Baker, will call for a phased redeployment of American soldiers from Iraq.
* Nobody's calling it “cut and run,” but that's essentially what it is.
So where does that leave Iraq? Where does it leave us? Far from where Bush said we'd be. He sold America on the notion that by “installing” (yes the word was often used, as if swapping out a Chevy engine) democracy in Iraq, then envious Iranians next door would follow suit, thus ending Iran's support for radical allies in Syria and Lebanon, such as Hezbollah.
The scheme was based on Neo-con dogma, twisted intelligence, and rosy predictions, rather than what's been going down in Iraq since the end of WWI, when England and France divvied up much of the Middle East based on location of oil, ports and railroads. As I've demonstrated, it's easy enough to learn about the history of Iraq. In ignoring that country's true history and makeup, our president opened a road to perdition, characterized by torture on all sides, loss of civil liberties, civil war and worse.
Face it. By blindly following Bush into a war based on a pack of lies we tortured from a psychotic man (Google al-Libi+Powell for more), our country succeeded in putting its worst enemies in charge of Iraq. The Shiites there find it in their interests to make common cause with Iran, the world's largest predominately Shiite nation, and, by implication, their friends, such as Hezbollah, who recently provoked Israel into demolishing much of Lebanon.
It's hard to see how this war ends happily. Maliki is caught between—I'll resist the tired pun on Iraq—irresistible forces in America, Iran and his own country. By splitting the difference between Bush and al-Sadr, he's managed to insult both. Given his options though, could George Washington have done better?
What happens next is anybody's guess. Some possibilities:
* Bush will be true to his word and continue supporting Maliki, “the Mayor of the Green Zone,” as some mock him.
* Bush could remove Maliki, maybe by having him killed, as peace activist Tom Hayden predicted on CNN this week, and replace him with a true puppet.
* Al-Sadr could lead his radical Shiite followers, seize control from whoever Bush supports, and set up a new fundamentalist Muslim state in league with Iran.
* Iraq could break apart into three countries or tribal zones.
* Bush could roll the dice by massively bombing Iran, knocking out that country's nuclear infrastructure, something long predicted by writers such as Seymour Hersh.
Whatever happens, the question Bush must answer for history is, how will his policies bring meaning to the death and maiming of so many? The question for the rest of us:
How do we keep our troops and our world safe as Bush plays out the string in his two remaining years? I've suggested before that someone, maybe Bush's father, needs to take him by the hand and lead him to a very safe place. Just maybe that's what's going on. Or rather, Bush 41, may be bringing a new “place” or context to his own son's presidency. Stay tuned.