Leave and Engage Iran
By WILLIAM S. LIND
".....The Bush administration's maximalist strategic objectives are not attainable, and they never were. They are the product of fantasy, not strategy. But if, as President Bush repeatedly says, we are fighting to defeat al Qaeda and other "terrorists" -- meaning the non-state forces of the Fourth Generation then victory can realistically be defined as seeing the re-creation of a state in Iraq.
Our invasion and subsequent blunders, such as sending home the Iraqi army and civil service, destroyed the state in Iraq. Iraq currently has a government of sorts, cowering in the Green Zone, but it is a Potemkin government because there is no state. A stateless Mesopotamia is a huge win for Fourth Generation, non-state forces such as al Qaeda, because they flourish in such statelessness......
The central strategic question, then, is, how can a state be re-created in Iraq? There is no guaranteed answer; it may not be possible. What is guaranteed, however, is that the United States cannot do it. The problem is legitimacy. To be real, a future Iraqi state must be perceived by Iraqis as legitimate. But anything the United States, as a foreign invader and occupier, creates, endorses or assists automatically thereby loses its legitimacy.
What the U.S. must therefore do is get out of the way. When elements in Iraq move to re-create a state -- and those elements must be independent of the current al-Maliki government, which, as an American creation, has no legitimacy -- we have to let them try to succeed......"