Former US national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, once a powerful proponent of American supremacy in the Gulf, now leads the pack wanting Washington out of Baghdad fast. A key advisor of Democrat presidential aspirant Barrack Obama, Brzezinski recently argued in The Washington Post that it is time to end the ?Foolish War.?
Regardless of what Washington actually does after November 2008, both Democratic presidential candidates are currently garnering support on an agenda that calls for ending the messy and un-winnable war, if elected. Republican candidate John McCain is determined to continue the war. It is difficult to say how sincere the Democrats actually are as in July 2007 the anti-war campaigner Cindy Sheehan (who lost her son in the war) withdrew her dharna outside the Bush ranch in Texas after being abused and let down by the Democrats and others who initially supported her protests.
Still, Brzezinski openly avers now that the war had low merit and is bad cost accounting. He favours a comprehensive political and diplomatic effort to ward off possible regional instability in the wake of American withdrawal, a fear scenario painted by the Bush Administration and the Republican aspirant. Such arguments were used in the past to justify America continuing the Vietnam War; it ended in American retreat and defeat.
The Iraq war has so far taken a toll of 4,000 American lives, with another 30,000 wounded. Trillions of dollars and worldwide American credibility have been lost. The war has inflamed anti-American sentiment in the Gulf and South Asia, divided Iraq and enhanced Teheran'sregional influence – the very opposite of the White House'sforeign policy objectives! While American Presidents and other world leaders have to sneak into Baghdad in secrecy and stay in the safety of the Green Zone, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a public visit to public acclaim. Even the puppet regime in Baghdad wants to do business with Iran!
Washington will have to come to terms with the reality that regions like Kurdistan, the Shiite south, and some tribal belts in the Sunni portion, have already become self-governing enclaves. American influence is negligible here.
What is more, there is no meaningful al-Qaeda presence in the anti-American insurgency – America is hated as an invading power, and this fuels the jihad against it. This is an important admission given the fact that al-Qaeda'slinks with the deposed Saddam Hussain regime was proffered as one of the main arguments to justify the war. Brzezinski berates the Bush Administration for the so-called ?unipolar moment? following the collapse of the Soviet Union. These visions of grandeur conjured up a policy of unilateral use of force, military threats, and occupation masquerading as democratisation; these in turn fueled anti-colonial resentments, besides breeding religious fanaticism. Gulf stability has actually been endangered by this policy.
Engaging Teheran on regional security and its nuclear programme is a prerequisite to lasting peace in the region. This cannot be done without making concessions to Tehran. At the very least, military threats to Teheran must be discontinued as they are both counter-productive and give Iranian nationalism a tinge of religious fanaticism.
Brzezinski does not directly allude in his article to the Human Rights violations and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other prisons that horrified the world and American public opinion. However, last year, he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the Iraq war was a ?historic, strategic, and moral calamity.?
It is pertinent that as early as February 2007, the former national security adviser warned that continued US involvement in the war would inevitably result in a ?head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large.? US military action against Iran could push America into conflict – alone – with Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This is an interesting analysis – that anti-American strife could hit the region simultaneously – and one that has evaded most commentators, who tend to see the situation in terms of America picking up one cherry at a time and gobbling it up.
Personally I believe that US withdrawal will not be easy, no matter which party wins the election, as the forces and characters behind the war will not let this happen. In such a scenario, an American defeat and messy retreat, as in Vietnam, seems more likely to fructify in the coming months, as the armed forces and citizenry see no justification for the war and its continuance. This affects morale and fighting spirit. Recently, in Britain, America'sonly staunch ally in the war, the army chief spoke loudly against poor compensation and care extended to soldiers, an indication that Washington may increasingly have to fight the war alone.
Viable Iraqi leaders are those who live and exercise power outside the sanitized Green Zone, a four-square mile fortress in Baghdad, protected by a 15-foot thick wall and heavily protected. Washington is unlikely to find the honesty and humility to deal with such Iraqi leaders; they will have to storm their way in on the strength of a people'smovement, as Ayatollah Khomeini once did in Iran. Should that happen, Iran and Syria will have the last laugh.