Mr Patraeus, and Mr Crocker, top US men in Iraq, were complaining about Iranian troublemakers; special groups, as they were calling them. They separated Muqtada Al Sadr’s men from those who are even more directly linked to Iran. Watching democracy’s works in the US, where commander of the US army in Iraq and an ambassador, answer to the questions of the elected officials for 9 hours, makes you wonder when this kind of a scene may be possible in a country like Iran, where not only the people do not have access to the information (for instance why is Iranian money and man-power is engaged in creating chaos in a neighbouring country) but even many of the high-ranking officials are kept in the dark by those who are operating behind the scenes.
I listened to the senators’ speeches, Obama, Clinton and McCain. I agree with Mr McCain’s assertions on Iraq; they seemed courageous and noble. I do not agree with bombing Iranian nuclear sites (McCain was once singing, serious or not, about this) because I think that would rather create more public support for the Iranian regime, but I do agree with dealing with the Iranian regime in an intelligent and productive, also serious, manner in order to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons, which it does pursue, with the cost of poverty and isolation for the Iranians. Going back to the Iraq issue, I noticed that in the Senate hearing, both Hillary Clinton (who has voted for the war authorisation) and Barack Obama, wanted to retreat from Iraq as soon as possible.
I could not exactly grasp the point why! It all seemed to me as lack of leadership and definitely pure and poor populism, which I think will be the losing ticket for both (whoever gets the Democratic nomination, likely Obama) of them in the presidential elections. I do not believe that the American electorate is going to waste more than 4,000 American dead soldiers, and tens of thousands of American wounded, and about one trillion US dollars of tax-payers money to be forgotten just when the hardest part of the work was already behind. It is also very difficult for them, Clinton and Obama, to back away from their original campaign promises (ill-devised) when things were somehow different. I think they are both doomed.
How can America leave Iraq before things are done, and done well? Yes, that would save some extra American taxpayer dollars, but what about much greater sums that have already been spent? Do Muslim masses who hate America (instead of hating their own regimes) know that it is not the Iraqi oil money that is paying the US expenses in Iraq? The US is losing vast amounts of money in its operations in Iraq and it is actually paying for most of the Iraqi reconstruction, while Iraq is selling its oil in the free market and the money is not being spent properly because Al Qaeda terrorists, and the Iranian-backed groups, are disrupting the reconciliation and reconstruction efforts.
I know that it was the US who invaded Iraq in the first place and I know that it was the US whose huge mistakes in Iraq caused the deaths of many innocent Iraqis (far fewer than those killed because of Muslim extremists), but this is also another reason why the US has the moral obligation to stay in Iraq and create a stable democracy and a prosperous society. It can be done, but it may take time. It can be done because also Iraq has oil. It is as simple as that. But without the US keeping the thugs, terrorists, and foreign troublemakers at bay, it is very possible for all the losses that have occurred so far to be in vain. Without the US, Iraq will be the battleground of both Iraqi factions and also foreign meddlers, for years and years to come. And the Iranian regime, while calmly developing nuclear weapons, will use Iraq as the symbol of failure of democracy, and American moral standing, for the intimidation of its own population and other peoples of the Middle East who are struggling with their own ruthless regimes.
Iran will be no friend of a free Iraq if the Americans will retreat. The Iranian regime will not want a democratic, even a Shia-dominated one, to do well. They may have the same faith, but Iranian mullahs prefer power. A neighbouring Shia prosperous Iraq will become a rival for the Shia Iranian regime and that would be undesirable for a non-democratic leadership. Iran does not have Iraq’s oil compared to the population (it has much less oil per capita), and the more Iran’s neighbours prosper the more the Iranian regime fears for its survival, as it finds itself facing a population making comparisons, eventually losing appetite for defending the regime against possible threats, from inside or outside.
Many American politicians, mostly left-leaning, say that America must focus on Afghanistan, rather than Iraq. That would probably be a good option if there were already a stable Iraq in place, or at least Saddam was in power. But that is not the case now. Afghanistan is a primitive country, with extremely poor infrastructure and no easy access to any sort of communication with the outside world, a very difficult and hostile landscape and terribly scarce resources of any kind. Afghanistan will not become a seriously prosperous country for a very long time to come. It simple lacks the basic necessities of becoming a prosperous country. Afghanistan does not look good, and it never did ever since its creation. Afghanistan can do well, but it cannot become something like the UAE. But Iraq can. That is why America needs to focus on Iraq more. Will Al Qaeda continue to use Afghanistan as one of its land bases? Possibly! But as far as we know Al Qaeda is based in Pakistan, rather than Afghanistan.
Actually Al Qaeda does not necessarily need such a base. Al Qaeda is more like a state of mind, and it can stay alive and well in the minds of ordinary dissatisfied Sunni Muslims, especially young and naive ones, as long as there are serious reasons for their being so. Al Qaeda can do quite well in the cyber-space, as it already is doing. The best way to tackle Al Qaeda is to tackle its foundation where it attracts its followers, by proving it wrong, through the promotion of prosperity and democracy in Iraq, where the only serious chance of having some sort of a success story (as senator McCain was also saying) exists. A free and prosperous Iraq will do the greatest damage to Islamic extremism. And this will also be a huge blow for the Iranian fundamentalist regime, and definitely good for the Iranian people and their future.