Newsweek on Iraq

Not your usual left-wing moonbat rag, Newsweek today offers a mind-blowingly pessimistic article on Iraq. I mean, this is downright grim.

Reporter Christopher Dickey says it’s simply a given that we will close — that’s not even debatable. The only quesion will be how terrible our defeat is.

The most likely course of events in the years to come will be a rapid disintegration of Iraq, with the Kurdish north ever more independent, the center of the country–including much of Baghdad–a virtual no-go zone and the mullahs in the south, by design or default, positioning it as a new Shiite Islamic Republic. All those trends are well advanced already, and partial elections in the north and the south will probably hasten the outcome. But many more Americans will die before the administration declares “parts of former Iraq are winning freedom.”

In the United States, it’s doubtful we’ve been haunted by such a collective sense of fear since the days of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist witch hunts in the early 1950s. There was a real threat then, but there was also vicious demagoguery based on calculated hysteria. So, too, today.

The events of three years ago were a terrible shock. Terrorists do want to attack us, and they do need to be fought. But the artificial hysteria I found when I was back in America over the last month contributes nothing positive in a battle that has to be waged in a real world full of gray areas and seeming contradictions. The fact is, allies do not cooperate just because you tell them to. Dictators do not pose a clear and present danger just because you think they might. People do not feel liberated just because you say they are. They won’t love you for intentions. They will judge you by your actions.

It would be satisfying to report that the Bush administration in a second term will take off its ideological blinders and favor expertise over ideology when dealing with the fight against terrorists and the uphill battle to stabilize a unified Iraq. But the trend is in precisely the opposite direction. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and the chickenhawks who flock around them are set to stay. The few weak voices of reason like Secretary of State Colin Powell are expected to leave. So are many of the old pros at the State Department, the CIA and in the military, who are tired of being ignored and wary of implication in further disasters.

Definitely a must read. If the writer is even partially right, we are on course for a trainwreck that will make the current nightmare look like spring break. And some people insist we can still “win,” and that it was a good idea. How could they possibly say that in the wake of so much being lost, and so very little being gained?

UPDATE: In the name of fairness, I feel I need to balance this grim outlook with a breaking story in today’s WaPo. Apparently things aren’t really that bad afer all.

A growing number of career professionals within national security agencies believe that the situation in Iraq is much worse, and the path to success much more tenuous, than is being expressed in public by top Bush administration officials, according to former and current government officials and assessments over the past year by intelligence officials at the CIA and the departments of State and Defense.

While President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others have delivered optimistic public appraisals, officials who fight the Iraqi insurgency and study it at the CIA and the State Department and within the Army officer corps believe the rebellion is deeper and more widespread than is being publicly acknowledged, officials say.

People at the CIA “are mad at the policy in Iraq because it’s a disaster, and they’re digging the hole deeper and deeper and deeper,” said one former intelligence officer who maintains contact with CIA officials. “There’s no obvious way to fix it. The best we can hope for is a semi-failed state hobbling along with terrorists and a succession of weak governments.”

“Things are definitely not improving,” said one U.S. government official who reads the intelligence analyses on Iraq.

“It is getting worse,” agreed an Army staff officer who served in Iraq and stays in touch with comrades in Baghdad through e-mail. “It just seems there is a lot of pessimism flowing out of theater now. There are things going on that are unbelievable to me. They have infiltrators conducting attacks in the Green Zone. That was not the case a year ago.”

Don’t forget, Freedom is on the march. It’s right around the corner.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

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