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Reader comment on item: Bush's Middle East Hopes [and His Failures]

Submitted by Bruce Sterling (United States), Jan 17, 2008 at 07:58

The surge in Iraq is working, the country is growing more safe and secure, the death rate for troops and civilians is falling and exiles are flocking home. What then are we to make of this remarkable turnaround? Is it a victory in progress over our Islamofascist foes as some commentators and politicians believe? I wish it were so.

If the war on terror were limited to Iraq there would be cause to believe we were defeating the enemy, and that our forces were on a clear path to victory. But the path is not so clear and seems to be leading elsewhere. For this is a regional and global war with Iraq as one of many battlefields and by no means the most important. Indeed, as conditions steadily improve in Iraq a crisis for America worsens in the region, a crisis of confidence in American power as more of our credibility and fading prestige are lost to Ahmadenijad and the murderous, twisted genocidal mullahs.

This is no victory, this is not success, this is a defeat in the making masked in Iraq by a winning military campaign. For with the equilibrium of the Middle East completely deranged-from the shock and awe of the Iraq War-and the balance of power shifting to Iran what we are seeing in the region is an advancing catastrophe. A catastrophe such like we haven't seen since the 1960s when a misguided President from Texas who bungled a winnable war assured us repeatedly that victory was around the bend.

Perception is everything in politics and war, and the Middle East sees America as losing in its contest with Iran. They see us as losing not on the battlefield of Iraq, where our troops are fighting brilliantly crushing al Qaida and local militant thugs; they see us as failing in our commitment and stated vow-pledged by the President and known as his doctrine-that we will punish regimes that abet the menace we are fighting and that Iran will not have nuclear arms. The Arabs respect power and they see our warrior president as having dropped the sword in his duel with Iran.

In Vietnam after several years of surging our troops until they reached a peak of 500,000 men a desperate North Vietnam unleashed the Tet Offensive and lost thousands of soldiers and Viet Cong guerillas in battle. Our troops fought bravely in the cities, jungles, deltas and swamps killing nearly 40,000 men in that battle alone and a million overall. But where did it get us? Where was the promised victory that was always on its way the victory that never arrived; the victory of an independent, sustainable democratic South holding the line against the red tide and saving the region from disaster?

Because we refused to send our troops to the Communist North where they belonged Saigon in the end was defeated and Indochina collapsed into a bloodbath of death camps, killing fields and drowned refugees. This was our worst hour, vowed by everyone across political lines, Left and Right, Republican and Democrat, never to be repeated. But now at a different time in a different place in another war it is happening again: the past that we believed was a lesson learned and buried for good is returning to life in a new incarnation, returning because we are fighting the right war in the wrong place; because we are fighting in Baghdad instead of Tehran the stronghold of terror, the bastion of evil.

While our troops are reducing the violence and killings that bedevil Iraq Iran has been secretly out-surging us and achieving its regional and strategic aims. "While we play checkers they play chess and are many moves ahead of us," says Ralph Peters. From the fall of Saddam to the Iraqi elections to the success of the surge America has been the primary enabler of Iran's political and nuclear ambitions unconsciously advancing its evil aims against our interests and turning it into the regional hegemon. That is the sad reality of this war and the grounds for the coming disaster.

It's now beyond doubt that the leaders of the Arab world, Iraq included, see Iran as the winning horse in the region; not stronger than America, not wealthier than we, not greater in any positive way; but more conniving, clever and cunning, secretly galloping in the dead of night toward the terrible dawn of nuclear victory. And we dare call this victory? Not for us, not for Israel, not for the forces of freedom in the region. After 4000 deaths and billions spent it makes me want to weep. Stability and peace are returning to Iraq but the terror-masters in Iran are winning.

You don't believe me? Think I've got it wrong? Think that my fears are unwarranted? Then dare to be wise and look at the facts, look if you dare and weep for yourself! Look at the reverence being paid by the mad Arab street to Ahmadenijad and Hezbollah's terror chief in Lebanon-two sick, twisted, hate driven men who want to destroy America, incinerate Israel and snuff out freedom from the world. Look at recent actions by fearful Arab leaders responding to US setbacks to contain, curb and isolate Iran:

The unprecedented invitation to Ahmadenijad to address the Gulf Cooperation Council-an organization established to buffer Iranian influence in the region.

The warm religious welcome accorded this man by the Saudi elite at his recent pilgrimage to Mecca-another first for an Iranian leader.

Recent meetings in Cairo between senior Egyptian and Iranian officials reversing thirty years of Egyptian policy after ties between the two were dissolved. Iran has been seeking to normalize relations with Egypt for years and now they seem close to a diplomatic breakthrough. The President's failure in recent months to form an anti-Iran coalition with our "reliable" Arab friends whose fear of Iran exceeds their confidence in us to protect them.

In light of these developments how else are we to understand Ahmadenijad's statement over the summer that Iran and Saudi Arabia will be stepping into the power vacuum left by U.S. forces when they leave Iraq and the region? This suggests that his evil brain is contemplating a kind of "Hitler-Stalin Pact" with the Saudi/Sunni states for dividing up Iraq. The pact that wetted Hitler's appetite for power and led to World War II.

None of these are signs of American success in the region. All of them signal our waning influence and prestige as our frightened Arab friends seeing our failure to stop the mullahs capitulate and change their policies to accommodate them.

In a desperate attempt to reverse this trend and woo back our worried friends the President restarted the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, an enterprise of folly doomed to fail as the radicalized anti-Western Palis aren't ready to live in peace with Israel.

As the surge fails to resonate in the Middle East and is treated as a non-event the President is losing confidence and hope and is running away from reality: the roadmap to a safer and more secure Middle East runs through Tehran not Jerusalem. Either we free Iran from the murdering mullahs and neutralize their allies or we enter a period of geopolitical decline similar to the hazardous years following the fall of Saigon-with dominoes falling all over the Middle East or the region engulfed in war.

As we are fighting in Iraq to save a weak democracy from Shiite radicals allied to Iran and guide it along the path to liberal ends awe is growing for a totalitarian state ruled by theocratic killers who see Democracy as a rival religion, an evil force hated by God that must be destroyed. Death to America! Death to liberty! Death to human rights! Death! Death! Death! And how do we respond to this deadly challenge? By trumpeting our gains in Iraq as if victory were at hand, hoping it will give us a psychological edge in the war abroad, and score political points with voters in an election year at home-which are doing nothing to reverse our political weakness in the region or to stop Iran from getting the bomb.

The writing is on the wall: Iran's deadly star is rising in the region as ours is falling: falling from failure of will, from loss of nerve, from dashed expectations and moral fatigue. Falling from a war that has gone on too long and from the want of an immediate threat to alarm us into action. But the danger grows by the hour. As America and her allies wearying of the task yawn at the gathering storm, the menacing clouds darken the sky ready to ignite. The surge is succeeding in Iraq, but it's failing to restore regional confidence in American power. Failing because Iran is defeating our efforts to contain their ambitions and stop them from getting the bomb.

The Iranian bomb overshadows everything in the region and is making the mullahs seem larger than life-not just because of the weapon's destructive power, but because the world's only superpower is failing to stop them from making it. Despite our hard won gains in Iraq Iran is gaining the psychological and political edge in the region; they are reducing our achievements in Iraq to naught while turning it into a base for its radical operations-using the SCIRI and Bader Corps to form a state within a state on the Hezbollah model. We are rapidly losing ground in the greater war on terror because the fountainhead, powerhouse and central bank of this disease, the engine of evil in the region, the regime that began it all, is growing in stature and getting the bomb.

While we're routing al Qaida, pulverizing insurgents and crushing death squads throughout Iraq we have been fighting a war of distraction; a war cleverly disguised by the devils in Iran to divert us away from invading their country while they evolve into a nuclear state. Playing us for fools Iran is filling the vacuum in Iraq stealing the country from under our eyes and turning it into an instrument for their designs; a tragedy which began with Iraq's first election when radical Shiites backed by Tehran cunningly used the democratic process to seize control of the state-ominously falling on the date when Hitler rose to power as Germany's elected leader and North Vietnam initiated Tet.

Did we topple Saddam so that Iran could fill the void in Iraq, develop the bomb and become a menacing regional power? Is this why our soldiers are dying? Is this why they fight and risk their lives? We ousted Saddam and the Taliban as a warning to rogue regimes with WMDs that they would be next to fall unless they reform, disarm and end the funding of terrorism. Kaddafi got the message and surrendered his illicit arms fearing that he'd end up in chains like Saddam. But defying this lesson and developing nukes, while deploying the missiles to deliver them, are the mass murdering mullahs skillfully riding the back of U.S. foreign policy straight into the nuclear age. And we call this victory? Not for America, not for freedom, not for the peace of the world.

Do you believe the politicized NIE Report and acquiesce in its findings? That Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 when we invaded Iraq? Are you that foolish and naive? Practically no one in the Middle East trusts this report. The Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians and Jews differ from you in that they know the enemy, they know Iran, they know the mullahs and their evil plans: the restoration of Islam as a great military and political power-the dream of all jihadists since the collapse of the Ottoman Turks. And they know that in a nuclear age no great power can be made unless it has the bomb. Take solace in this report at your peril; use it to bury your head in the sand, the odds it has a grain of truth are less than zero; and Arab leaders say as much when they cozy up to Iran.

Fearing a US invasion of their country our surging forces in Iraq are exactly where the mullahs want them: fighting in Baghdad instead of Tehran. Those who doubt this citing Ahmadenijad's repeated calls for U.S. withdrawal ignore one glaring fact: the ostensibly pro-American, pro-occupation stand of Abdul Aziz Hakim. This theo-fascist Iraqi leader, who heads the SCIRI the most pro-Iranian faction in Iraq's Shiite government, is a radical tool of Iran's foreign policy. When the mullahs tell Hakim to jump he asks them how high. If this lackey of Iran were to stray from their views he would end up a corpse like his brother Sayed who was blown to bits when he crossed them. The mullahs don't tolerate dissent and Hakim has a gun fixed to his head. In short, this man is no friend of America, no friend of democracy, no friend of our nation building project in Iraq. Why then does he support the U.S. occupation? Why then is he telling Secretary Rice that Iran is stabilizing Iraq? Because he's ordered by Iran!

As we surge ahead in strife-torn Iraq devastating much of Al Qaida and other militant thugs the Islamonazis in Tehran surge farther and higher and wider and deeper rising up from their pit in hell to regional hegemony. This cannot go on. There is too much at stake. Too many lives have been lost and treasure spent to acquiesce in the rise of a nuclear Iran which would hold the oil rich Arab states hostage to its expansionist plans.

If liberal democracy is to arise in Iraq bridging in time its sectarian divide, if our revolution in time is to succeed in the region and lead it out of the past, then the radical mullahs must fall. As long as the Arab world (including Iraq) view Iran as the winning horse the future of freedom is bleak in the region, and Iraq falling under Iran's evil sway will become a new Vietnam.

It seems like pre-World War II all over again. Again the nations choose to sleep ignoring a terrifying regime rising in their midst with a mandate from hell to rule them. Again the appeasers cower before the beast hoping to placate his pitiless heart with offerings of peace. As "peace in our time" quickly turns into war millions are slaughtered and ground into dust. The Iran-Iraq War, with its million dead, is prelude of worse to come. It's a sign of what will follow if we reward the mullahs for their evil and they triumphantly get the bomb.

As the President has vowed to keep Iran from making nuclear bombs, that this terrible regime "will not have the worlds most dangerous weapons" there is no other way he can honor his pledge short of regime change in Tehran. Indeed, if the mullahs are in power when the President retires postponing the evil day of a nuclear Iran to his successor his post-presidential years will be steeped in tears regretting his inaction when he had the chance to strike. Lamentably his unkept pledge will haunt him to the grave, and the man who toppled Saddam and the Taliban but left the job unfinished by not invading Iran will not be treated kindly by history. Instead of being remembered as a second Harry Truman history will see him as Lyndon Baines Bush: the President who gave us a nuclear Iran and a new Vietnam.

We are fighting on the wrong battlefield in the wrong country in the right war against Islamic terror. As the invasion of Iraq was the final solution to Saddam's nuclear and regional ambitions so is regime change in Tehran the only answer to stopping the threat of nuclear Jihad and a nuclear Iran. What failed to depose the Butcher of Baghdad will fail with the murdering mullahs of Tehran: sanctions, bombings, inciting mass revolt, containment strategies, and the like. In the end preemptive war is the only solution. In the end the Bush Doctrine the only hope.

Ronald Reagan used economic warfare to bankrupt Russia and force the Soviets to chose reform over mass starvation and death. Faced with the same choice Saddam insanely chose starvation with thousands of Iraqis dying from hunger and disease. The mullahs are more ruthless than Saddam. The removal of the Taliban and the Baathist regime has brought about a rebirth in their revolutionary dreams; driven by ideology and radical ideas they would chose starvation over change. "Let Iran burn so long as Islam prevails," said the Ayatollah Khomeine who saw all Iranians as sacrificial lambs for the glory of God and Islam. As the mullahs see their theocracy as the model for humanity ordained by God for universal rule reforming it would betray the will of heaven causing the horror of damnation at death. This is the regime from hell that we are fighting. This is why preemptive war is the only solution, the only answer, the only way to peace.

In a recent interview with a German magazine Iran's foreign minister was asked if his country still fears a US invasion: "No," said the minister smiling, "the US has too many problems in Iraq and is in no position to get into a new military conflict." Too many problems? Caused by who? While we tarry in Iraq battling insurgents-putting out fires caused by Iran-the evil day of the Iranian bomb approaches. The day Iran's infernal pride will pierce the sky seeing in the bomb a certain sign of divine favor and coming global victory.

As Iran was Jimmy Carter's undoing so is it undoing the presidency of George Bush. Bush's tough talk against Iran has been a substitute for military action; fighting al Qaida in Iraq is an excuse for doing nothing to stop their sponsors in Tehran. What is bin Ladin compared to the Ayatollahs? What is al Qaida compared to Hezbollah? A putrid pond in the widening sea of mullah blood, and nothing more.

The Left wants to withdraw our forces from Iraq and leave the region to its fate, and the Right wants regime change in Iran knowing the gathering threat of its regime. As we cannot depose the mullahs while our troops are in Iraq the Right needs to side with the Left on withdrawal and send our forces marching to Tehran in a preemptive war of liberation. As the one thing worse than invading Iran is the mullahs getting the bomb, this is the only practical solution for averting the disaster of a nuclear terrorist Iran.

When the threat of a US strike on their country became critically real to the mullahs last summer-heightened by the presence of two carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf and by Israel's bold strike on Syria‘s nuclear site-a panicky Iran fearful of seeing its nuclear assets destroyed thought it best to lower tensions with America. They thought it best to rein in their deadly proxies and play a less assertive role against our forces in Iraq. This may have been the result of a deal where the U.S. would back off from attacking Iran in exchange for a reduction of violence-with Iran choking off the flow of men and arms into Iraq and curbing Shiite militias. Indeed, Iran went so far as to broker a truce between al Sadr's Mahdi Army and Hakim's Bader Corps, two feuding Shiite armies causing mayhem and death. Whether Iran will continue this policy after the NIE Report is anyone's guess. The recent incident in the Persian Gulf where five Iranian gunboats provocatively circled and closed in on three US warships is not a good sign. If the mullahs think they could supercharge the violence in Iraq with impunity-returning it to pre-surge levels-then they will do so as this would benefit Democrats in the presidential race-the party calling for the precipitous removal of our forces from Iraq and the region, a policy that accords with Iran's ambitions and would disastrously advance their regional goals.

The President says that all options are still on the table with Iran, including military action. Straining to sound tough Mr. Bush said to reporters before his trip to the Middle East "Iran was a threat, is a threat and continues to be a threat as long as they continue to enrich uranium." And so the threat continues. And so it advances and grows. But it looks as if the president has weakened and lacks the will to carry out his pledge; it looks like he's accepted the reality of a nuclear Iran and that the Bush Doctrine is dead.

Yes, it‘s true, the surge in Iraq is working, the country is growing more safe and secure. Less troops and civilians are dying from violence and exiles are coming home. But it is not a sign of victory. It is the lull before the storm.

The downfall of the mullahs is a world necessity, a regional necessity and a national security necessity. Our troops can do more good in Iran than in the cauldron of Iraq. If you double the reasons for invading Iraq you will understand the urgency for invading Iran.

Unless the President takes the War on Terror into the den of death and darkness, unless he revives his great doctrine and keeping his pledge makes Tehran "Ground Zero" in this new world war; in short, unless we get out of Iraq where Patraeus is wasted and into Iran where his talents belong then Iran's lethal power will continue to grow radicalizing and destabilizing more of the region with devastating consequences for America, Israel and the peace of the world.


There is no other way to prevent the catastrophe of the mullahs from getting the bomb. There's no other way to stop Iraq from becoming a new Vietnam.


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