Saturday, July 15, 2006


William Kristol apparently wants to be the alpha and omega of the Iraq war: He advocated the disastrous policies that got America to where it is today, and is now advocating a disastrous policy with Israel and Lebanon that would ensure the Iraqi misadventure ended as badly as possible. (Link via Glenn Greenwald.)

First of all, Kristol takes us on a bizarre alternate history of the Middle East:

Islamism became really dangerous when it seized control of Iran--which then became, as it has been for the last 27 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

No Islamic Republic of Iran, no Hezbollah. No Islamic Republic of Iran, no one to prop up the Assad regime in Syria. No Iranian support for Syria (a secular government that has its own reasons for needing Iranian help and for supporting Hezbollah and Hamas), little state sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah. And no Shiite Iranian revolution, far less of an impetus for the Saudis to finance the export of the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam as a competitor to Khomeini's claim for leadership of militant Islam--and thus no Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and perhaps no Hamas either.

No mention of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. No mention of the US response in funding the Mujahideen. No mention even of Israel's short-sighted support for Hamas, early on. No, in Kristol's world, all rivers flow from Tehran, and all roads lead back there.

Having started with awful premises, Kristol arrives at an awful conclusion:

The right response is renewed strength--in supporting the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, in standing with Israel, and in pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran. For that matter, we might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions--and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement.

But such a military strike would take a while to organize. In the meantime, perhaps President Bush can fly from the silly G8 summit in St. Petersburg--a summit that will most likely convey a message of moral confusion and political indecision--to Jerusalem, the capital of a nation that stands with us, and is willing to fight with us, against our common enemies. This is our war, too.

This is insane. This is so insane, in fact, that the English language may lack the words for this kind of craziness. Whether or not anyone thinks that a nuclear Iran can be contained (yes, it can) nobody seriously thinks that Iran - nuclear or not - can be disarmed by military force alone. But Kristol's military sense is as keenly honed as his historical one.

Moreover, the idea of the United States simultaneously giving a blank check to the all-out war he wishes Israel would wage, pursuing a war against the Shia Hezbollah in Lebanon and the mullahs of Iran and this not somehow turning in to a disaster in Baghdad isn't even crazy - it's just stupid. Were Bush to do as Kristol reccomends, the US Army would find itself immediately besieged by Sadr and the rest of the Shia population. A war against Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah could easily be the one thing to end the ongoing Iraqi civil war - uniting the Iraqis against the Americans.

You would think that Kristol, given his advocacy of America's current Middle East disaster, would either a) have the good sense to not advocate further nonsense, or b) have no further paid employment. Obviously, the iron law of right-wing punditry still holds: It is impossible for conservatives to say anything too stupid or wrong.

No comments: