In 2005, the U.S. government's "war on terror," as well as its operations in Iraq, were entwined in the same tortuous logic by which they had been conceived. After redefining the mission in Iraq from finding Weapons of Mass Destruction, to building democracy, to eliminating terrorists, to enabling the Iraqis to fight for themselves—and not being serious about any of these—the Bush Administration was arguing that to withdraw would be to admit defeat. But what would victory look like?Thus begins The Logic of the "Peace Process" by Angelo Codevilla in the Winter 2005 issue of the Claremont Review. Codevilla is a rare thing -- a Conservative principled enough to criticise the administration for fighting an indequate war. I don't necessarily agree with all of his prescriptions but his analysis of some the problems with the present "strategy" are very much on target. Here's another long excerpt:
Read the whole thing.
The Bush Administration had understood its commitment to "regime change" to involve merely the removal of some 55 high-ranking Iraqis. It learned the hard way—and even then, incompletely—that Saddam Hussein's regime consisted of at least 2,000 persons who wielded the levers of power in Ba'athist Iraq. They never surrendered; on the contrary, they continued to fight for victory. Thanks to ready sanctuary in Syria; massive amounts of resources stashed as part of the regime's post-invasion strategy; and the U.S. Occupation Authority's opposition to de-Ba'athification—many party members, accordingly, were reinserted into the government—the Ba'ath party resumed its role as the country's most cohesive force outside the Kurdish provinces. Just as important, the party faithfully represents the deepest fears and hatreds of 20% of the population: the Sunni Arabs.
Contrary to what the administration wanted to believe, the Sunni population was the bedrock of the old regime. Although they had suffered almost as much violence at Hussein's hands as other Iraqis, he had given them powers and privileges that they had come to see as their birthright. And so the Sunnis fought to re-subjugate their fellow Iraqis. They murdered judges and intimidated witnesses at Hussein's trial, with the Arab world's tacit support. The Sunni view of America's role was summed up in a local newspaper cartoon that showed Uncle Sam's exit from bloody Iraq as passing over a bridge—controlled by a terrorist sitting at a negotiating table. The Sunnis fought to induce America into pressing their demands on other Iraqis, believing they could, by force of arms, obtain concessions from the U.S. that they could never obtain from their fellow Iraqis. They were correct. Iraq's majority, for their part, were dismayed that the American government was negotiating with their enemies behind the backs of the native people, even as it had decades ago in Vietnam.