Beyond Incompetence: Washington’s War in Iraq

Posted by Cutler on April 30, 2006
Iran, Iraq

ZNet has published my article, Beyond Incompetence: Washington’s War in Iraq.” The article makes two central arguments.

1. Critics of the War should not underestimate the Realpolitik analysis behind the decision to invade Iraq and deliver power to the Shiite majority. It also tries to elaborate that Realpolitik primarily through a close reading of David Wurmser’s book, Tyranny’s Ally: America’s Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein (AEI: 1999).

2. Within the US, there is an “intra-imperialist” battle over political outcomes in Iraq. Critics of the War who take one side or another in this intra-imperialist battle risk unintentionally aligning themselves with one side or another of an essentially imperialist debate.

Along the way, the article tries to make sense of Bush administration battles between neo-conservatives and realists. I propose that the factions are best defined as Right Zionists (so-called “neo-conservatives”) and Right Arabists (so-called “realists”).

4 Comments to Beyond Incompetence: Washington’s War in Iraq

  • I agree that the Iraq invasion took place because of Realist imperialism, however the ‘Realist’ pronouncements from neo-cons that you cite are nothing of the sort. The idea that Iraqi Shi’a would somehow imperil the Iranian revolution because of greater clerical credentials is utterly ridiculous. Any outside pressure which support’s ‘moderates’ in Iran and helps end the unconstitutionally overweaning power of the Guardian’s Council will only strengthen Iran. As for Ledeen’s comment about that ‘…Iraqi Shi’ites will fight alongside us…’,sure they will, as will the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny. The only question is, which of them are being disingenuous and which of them are imbecilic triumphalist ‘boy scouts’ living in Unipolar dreamland.

    The ‘bumbling’ in Iraq, which, as you so rightly point out, is probably not bumbling, has been unimportant in establishing Shi’ite power in Iraq. Once Hussein’s regime was militarily overthrown it was inevitable. In fact, a Realist’s Realist would have judged Shi’a domination and alliance with Iran to be inevitable in the long-term from the time of the Iranian revolution – and Iraq’s history (with reference to US policy) makes a great deal of sense in that light. The US ‘tactical errors’ of de-Ba’thification and demilitirisation have had a far more obvious and important effect. They have created ongoing violence, first the insugency, now civil war which threatens to spread to Saudi Arabia.

    Your article portrays a horrendously complex Machiavellian gambit by the neo-cons, reliant on far too many unknowns for it to be taken seriously as a Realpolitik strategy. I would suggest that they are very simply trying to promote a widespread conflagration in the hope that they can destroy (if only temporarily) as much of the Middle East’s oil capacity as possible. They would, no doubt, like to bomb as many places as is politically allowable. THAT is what a real Realist would aim for.

  • Quite simply the best overview of American foreign policy as it pertains to Iraq — that I’ve seen so far. Now if we can just include the economic impact perpetrated upon Iraq by the CPA, we gain even more clarity on the underlying intentions (of the administration) as applied to policy. Who was directing the CPA policy(s) of privitization? Bremmer, I think not.

  • The idea that the Iraqi Shi’ites will help to undermine the Iranian “mullocracy”, which in turn will lead to a modernised and westernised “Shi’ite Crescent”, which then will tear Saudi Arabia’s eastern strip away from the Sauds, is perhaps implausible, but neocon patter is simply an attempt to provide smoke and mirrors for the politicians until they have made an irreversible commitment – we have seen this again and again, most recently with Chalabi.

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