It looks as if, as was widely expected in dovish quarters, Iraq’s new de-Baathification law is proving unacceptable to Sunni Arabs, and Iraq’s Sunni Vice President is saying he’ll veto it. Meanwhile, if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times — the states purpose of the surge was to lay the groundwork for political reconciliation, reconciliation looks further away than ever and the surge is about to run out of time. That’s a failed policy.
Indeed it is. But that certainly hasn’t stopped the GOP from claiming success and promising more successful military adventures in Iran and elsewhere. The GOP is dependent on the political capital generated by fear-mongering and war-making; and the financial capital contributed by defense contractors.
But the politics of fear and war are wasting asset in a country like America where people generally want to be optimistic and hopeful (see Reagan, circa 1980). Moreover, the confusion of military success with strategic and political success has become a dangerous habit for the GOP. Bush and Co have declared victory in this war more times than my local furniture company has had a going out of business sale. In 2003 Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq when the political mission was just a gleam in Ahmed Chalabi’s eye. Now, after the military success of the surge they’ve declared victory again, and again there is no sign of political success.
The fact of the matter is that the political requirements of the GOP (war and fear) have painted the country into a corner. We have an open-ended commitment to a grandiose nation-building scheme in Iraq that is dependent on the willingness of ethnic and religious groups, who are nursing centuries-old grievances, to “work things out”. Does someone actually believe the Sunni Arabs who have dominated the region are going to roll over and let the majority Shiite’s rule and take all the oil? I just find that impossible to imagine. My prediction is that there will be a long and bloody fight. We can have little influence over the outcome. We can only buy time by launching surge after surge. In fact Bush has already told us that we should launch Son of Surge this summer. Last time I checked the “time” we are buying was costing about $4 billion a week. .
Bottom line: the next president likely will inherit an sputtering if not stalled economy, a federal government carrying $5 trillion more in debt, an over-committed military, and a more dangerous world. The legacy of the the GOP.