Despite stiff and unexpected Iraqi resistance, the U.S. invasion of Iraq is likely to succeed in toppling Saddam Hussein—and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Bush, the Republican Party, and American neoconservatives.
Wars have unintended consequences as well as unexpected developments. The White House, the Pentagon, our troops, and the public were surprised that Saddam Hussein did not "collapse after the first whiff of gunpowder," as Richard Perle, the principle architect of the war had optimistically predicted. The promised "cakewalk" quickly bogged down into a stalemate, and other major setbacks have occurred.
The Pentagon has been sobered by the halting of our vaunted invasion force by lightly armed Iraqi irregular troops and tribesmen. U.S. reinforcements have been ordered that will double our fighting capability. In the meantime there will be forty days and nights of bombing to soften the as-yet unfaced soldiers of the Republican Guard.
The casualties, both civilian and military, that are now expected to await us in Baghdad were not anticipated when our soldiers embarked on the liberation of Iraq.
As serious as this miscalculation is, other miscalculations may prove to be even more deadly.
The American invasion has made a Muslim hero out of Saddam Hussein, a secular dictator who has spent his political life suppressing Islamic political parties. Even worse, the invasion has achieved the "Palestinization" of the Muslim world and has united Muslims against us.
Muslims see the invasion of Iraq not as liberation but as conquest and re-colonization. Samir Ragab, the staid chairman of the hitherto moderate Egyptian Gazette, editorialized on March 27: "The U.S. and Israel are one and the same thing. Their common objective is to enfeeble Arabs and tear their nation to pieces."
"It is genocide to me," says Cairo Times reporter Summer Said. Even Christian Arabs have turned against us: George Elnaber, a 36-year-old owner of an Amman supermarket says, "Bush is an occupier and terrorist. We hate Americans more than we hate Saddam now."
Similar sentiments are being expressed millionsfold throughout the Middle East and Muslim Asia. They reflect the overnight radicalization of the Muslim world, which will affect politics. On March 31 Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said: "When it is over, if it is over, this war will have horrible consequences. Instead of having one bin Laden, we will have 100 bin Ladens."
Secular Middle Eastern rulers, who have suppressed Islamic political parties, are isolated from the populations that they govern. Islamic political movements were making headway, most notably in Pakistan and Turkey, prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The invasion has energized Islamic politicians. Leaders of the Mutahida Majlas-e-Aamal (MMA), a ruling religious party alliance in Northwest Pakistan, responded by demanding that Pakistan's "coward leaders" be pushed aside so that Pakistan's nuclear arms can be used "for the protection of the Muslim world."
Not even our NATO ally Turkey would permit us to move troops across their territory.
Deluded, perhaps, by the pro-war propaganda gushing from the U.S. news media and neoconservative magazines, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld have foolishly further inflamed Muslim opinion by issuing "warnings" to Syria and Iran. Such warnings are regarded as threats. In an interview with the Beirut daily newspaper A-Safir, Syrian President Bashar Assad responded to the threats: "We will not wait until we become the next target."
Clearly, U.S. policymakers lack understanding of the volatile region of the world in which they are exercising a heavy hand. With amazing hubris U.S. policymakers have stirred up thousands of Islamic terrorists whose future victims could dwarf in number the deaths of September 11 and the Iraq war combined.
The same policymakers have exacerbated distrust of the U.S. throughout the world. The Russian government publicly announced that it expects the Americans to plant weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to justify the excuse used to invade Iraq. The Russians said that they will believe no such American claim without independent international inspection.
What kind of cooperation can a country so distrusted expect?
The U.S. invasion of Iraq is a strategic blunder, the costs of which will mount over the next half century.
If there is to be a silver lining to this military adventure, perhaps it will be the realization among the American public that the neoconservative agenda of conquest of the Muslim Middle East is beyond our available strength, thus diverting America from a disastrous course which would consume our blood and treasure.
Paul Craig Roberts is the author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow's Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.
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