The Corner

Re: A Liberal War No More

Andy:  Much of what you say is right.  “The American people don’t care what form of government Iraq has”–yes.  The American people are mostly “’To Hell With Them’ Hawks.” I don’t know when was the last time I heard an ordinary American utter a word of sympathy or concern for the Iraqis.  It was a while ago.   However, there is a problem with your analysis.  You treat the enemy as united.  From my understanding, that is not the case–except temporarily, as a matter of convenience.  It is entirely possible that with the U.S.A . gone from Iraq, the Shiites of that nation, with gleeful Iranian assistance, would turn on Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq.  If they did so, they would deal with them using methods that, let us say, are not available to Gen. Petraeus.  Those methods would probably be highly effective.  They usually are.   Contrariwise, a U.S. assault on Iran might drive the Iranians, in desperation, to forge a real alliance with Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq, making our position in Iraq even worse.   I think (I’m sure I shall find out) your answer would be:  “Well, we just have to defeat them both.”  But do we?  That Al Qaeda is a threat we know–I see it every time I look at the Manhattan skyline.  That Iran is a threat is not so obvious to me.  Sure, Iran is meddling happily in Iraq, helping kill our troops there, but that just gets us into a circular argument.  If we weren’t there, what would they be doing to harm us or our interests?  The answer is not clear to me, but that the answer is “nothing” doesn’t seem particularly implausible.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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