Professor Richard K. Betts of
Talk of “unleashing the Shi’ites” continues. Today’s Post also quotes a “senior U.S. Intelligence Official”—General Hayden, perhaps?—to the effect that Al Sadr’s Mahdi Army is now stronger than the Iraqi Army, and that Prime Minister Maliki disposes of no effective coercive force. Here are his recommendations as reported by the Post:
“But in a sign of the discord in
I cannot claim any real expertise on
But on the other hand, Juan Cole (at juancole.com), quotes an Arabic newspaper—it seems to be Jordanian one—that an exiled Ba’athist leader is lobbying hard to get President Bush and King Abdullah to agree to rehabilitate the Ba’ath party in Iraq in order to bring it back into the political process! It was this rather astonishing shock that moved me to write this midweek post; can it be that we are only now trying to decide what outcome we want? The Post also says that Vice President Cheney was “summoned” to
We thus face at least three totally different alternatives: 1) backing the Kurds and Shi’ites to at least defeat the insurgency that seems to have spoiled our hopes; 2) rehabilitate some of the Ba’athist leadership to bring real Sunni strength into the coalition government (a variant of the Hadley proposal); and 3) the neoconservative option, still apparently pushed by some within the Administration, of attacking Iran to remove the critical obstacle to American influence. Some neoconservatives, apparently—as well as the “senior intelligence official” quoted above—are banking on the idea that Moqtar Al-Sadr is anti-Iranian. Today in Estonia President Bush reiterated his belief that Iraqis have voted for democracy and that the United States cannot withdraw, while naming Iran, Syria and Hezbollah as major obstacles to peace. Temperamentally I think he is likely to incline towards option 3), but it may not be possible. If however the Sunnis drop out of the government he could still claim that we were pursuing our original goals.
The Marine intelligence report suggested the possibility of a Sunni state in Anbar province, and that sounds like a part of a possible solution to me. I do not completely agree with Richard Betts. Intervention can help settle a civil war as soon as both sides have realized they cannot win a total victory, and we might be able to hasten that day and take advantage of it when it comes. To announce that we favored a cease-fire could have a substantial effect, and would check the momentum of our current policy towards endless war. In any case, the above information tells us something about what to look for over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile there is another item in Tuesday's news. Philip Zelikow, the Counselor to the State Department, has resigned. Zelikow was the most reasonable national security official in the Administration, an authority on the Cuban missile crisis who truly believed in diplomacy. He was an old friend and co-author of Secretary Rice, and I suspect he was responsible for the flurry of stories earlier this year to the effect that she had rehabilitated diplomacy within the Administration. Now he is gone. It is not a good omen for those who want the