President George W Bush's new strategy has the potential to unravel the current US-Shi'ite alliance in Iraq. Then the majority Shi'ites could turn into insurgents overnight, and the country would become a dangerous flashpoint between Iran and the US
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi
"......Indeed, the comparisons with Ngo Dinh Diem's fate in South Vietnam and Iraq are becoming more pronounced. Just as Diem was pressured with conditions on economic aid before his overthrow, Washington is now imposing "benchmarks" on the Iraqi government, such as how to divide up the oil revenue. These demands, irrespective of their merits, have the undesirable consequence of perpetuating the image of Baghdad's regime as a client state pure and simple, hardly conducive to the government's legitimacy requirements, and quest for internal peace and stability.
But don't expect any of the policy hawks behind Bush's make-believe "new strategy" to bother themselves with such details, given their imperial mindset on preventing the impression of an astounding failure. Yet few even in Washington seriously believe that such prescriptions falling seriously short of a "comprehensive new approach" as called for by the ISG and others have even a moderate chance of success. This save for the Israelis and their influence peddlers, who are quietly happy that Bush disregarded the panel's "linkage approach" that would have put the Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians on the United States' policy agenda.....
These are, indeed, tall orders for a US military stretched thin and plagued with low morale and troop exhaustion. Senator John Warner has warned that Bush's plan would embroil the US in a bloody civil war, thus further complicating the US mission in Iraq, which has led to a "US-Shi'ite alliance", per the words of Washington pundit Edward Luttwak.
Yet a point missed by Luttwak and many other US analysts is the fragility of this alliance and the distinct possibility that under undue pressure by a combined force of Arab Sunnis, Israelis and US hawks, the alliance might crumble and thus turn the majority Shi'ites in Iraq into insurgents.....
The consequences of failure, he has warned, would be dire in terms of "radical Islamists" posing even bigger threats to America's precious allies in the oil region and to the US itself, and "Iran will be emboldened to pursue nuclear weapons and to dominate the region".
Thus the gist of Bush's "new strategy" is to make transparent the veiled purpose of long-term US power in Iraq, which is to deter Iranian power, protect America's vital interests and act as a bulwark against Islamist radicals and terrorists, without even an indirect allusion to an exit strategy. In historical retrospective, all this will likely remind us of is yet another US tragedy as previously seen in Vietnam, or the French in Algeria, tragedies inherited from the legacy of Western colonialism.
One net result of the White House's new strategy may indeed turn out to be the transformation of Iraq into a flashpoint between Iran and the US, in light of Thursday's news of a US raid on the Iranian Consulate in the city of Irbil, decried by Tehran as an act of provocation...."