January 14, 2007


Two Alliances: President Bush has managed to divide and conquer the Middle East (EDWARD N. LUTTWAK, January 14, 2007 , Opinion Journal)

It was the hugely ambitious project of the Bush administration to transform the entire Middle East by remaking Iraq into an irresistible model of prosperous democracy. Having failed in that worthy purpose, another, more prosaic result has inadvertently been achieved: divide and rule, the classic formula for imperial power on the cheap. The ancient antipathy between Sunni and Shiite has become a dynamic conflict, not just within Iraq but across the Middle East, and key protagonists on each side seek the support of American power. Once the Bush administration realizes what it has wrought, it will cease to scramble for more troops that can be sent to Iraq, because it has become pointless to patrol and outpost a civil war, while a mere quarter or less of the troops already there are quite enough to control the outcome. And that is just the start of what can now be achieved across the region with very little force, and some competent diplomacy. [...]

Although it was the U.S. that was responsible for ending Sunni supremacy in Iraq along with Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, it remains the only possible patron for the Sunni Arab states resisting the Shiite alliance. Americans have no interest in the secular-sectarian quarrel, but there is a very real convergence of interests with the Sunni Arab states because Iran is the main enemy for both.

Typical of the experts, he's picked the wrong side

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 14, 2007 11:30 PM

The notion that BushCo did not understand they were empowering the majority Shia (by overthrowing the Sunni dictatorship) does not pass the laugh test. Ditto the related notion that they did not forsee the resulting shift in regional Shia/Sunni power.

"Inadvertently"? I think not. Luttwak has not been paying attention.

Posted by: ghostcat at January 15, 2007 12:10 AM

Is the "Band of BrothersJudd" the only people who get this yet?

You'd think that all these big brains in the media would have figured it out by now.

As for the inconsistency of adding more troops, I submit once again that "flypaper" has to be atleast some part of the strategy.

You'd also think that the radical Islamists streaming across that unprotectable border would figure that out as well.

Posted by: Bruno at January 15, 2007 12:34 AM

There are a few who see the bigger picture, but not many. Not all that surprising, given that the media narrative is being spun almost entirely from the Sunni/Saudi perspective.

Posted by: ghostcat at January 15, 2007 12:43 AM

By the way ...

It may not last, but notice how quiet Baghdad has been since the Great Haifa Street Turkey Shoot and Bush's speech.

Posted by: ghostcat at January 15, 2007 1:46 AM

There is is: confusion to the enemy, and this is supposed to be a bad thing.

What is so appealing about the American gambit is its indirection. Were we to admit to our exploitation of the jailhouse fault lines, the game would not work. The way we are playing it, every enemy, foreign and domestic, believes he is harming the United States with every punch of the tar baby, while the reality is the other way around.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 15, 2007 6:22 AM

Lou: They are harming one group of Americans. The whining and crying coming out of the Louisville Courier-Journal opinion page is enough to make you want to bang your head against a brick wall.

Posted by: Bartman at January 15, 2007 8:34 AM

We're not adding troops, just announcing it, so the retreat sounds like Charge!

Posted by: oj at January 15, 2007 9:23 AM


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