The Corner

Realist Utopianism

Do all of Iraq’s neighbors seek a stable, peaceful Iraq?  Many realists, from Kofi Annan to James Baker to Barack Obama, seem to think so.  Says Annan, “An Iraq at peace is in the interest of all countries in the region, including Iran and Syria.”  And Obama, “Neither Iran nor Syria want to see a security vacuum in Iraq filled with chaos, terrorism, refugees and violence….”  Where does this assumption, upon which all the calls for engagement derive, come from?  The ether?  Neither the actions of Tehran nor Damascus provide any evidence that Iraqi security or stability has been their goal.  And the idea that, after telegraphing how much we want to withdrawal, either capital would take into account our interests is, at the least, dangerously naïve.  The idea that we should entrust our national security to the good word of Mahmoud “A world without America” Ahmadinejad or Bashar al-Assad is a fiction that only Foggy Bottom could dream up.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.