A leading Bush supporter says Iraq may be lost

I wasn’t going to post anything more today, but this is big. Ralph Peters, a long-time gung-ho optimist on Bush’s policy in Iraq, and the author of a recently published book entitled Never Quit the Fight, has turned. As recently as March, he says, he didn’t think that Iraq was in a civil war. Now he says it looks as though the Iraq government does not have the will to contain the murderous violence among the sectarian militias (just as Randall Parker has been pointing out exhaustively at ParaPundit). But what shows that Peters has really turned is his view that that if Iraq does go into civil war, that wouldn’t be so bad for us:

If the Arab world can’t sustain one rule-of-law democracy—after we gave Iraq a unique opportunity—might it be a useful strategic outcome to watch Arabs and Persians, Shia and Sunni, slaughtering each other again? Just don’t try to referee the death match.

We can, he says, accept the fact that our noble experiment in democracy-building has failed, and move our forces out of central Iraq to quieter locales in Kurdistan and southern Iraq (the very strategy I’ve been advocating for years), then let the partisans of Ali and the partisans of Saddam and the partisans of Osama have it out with each other (while, I would add, we hold our forces in readiness to topple any emergent regime that was really unacceptable to us). He writes:

Failure in Iraq would be a victory for terror. In the short run. But the terrorists might then find themselves mired in a long and crippling struggle. An Iraqi civil war might become al Qaeda’s Vietnam, not ours.

Talk about finding a silver lining. Unbelievably, Peters is pushing the same idea that Hugh Fitzgerald argued this very day at Jihad Watch, that since our real enemy is jihadist Islam, not “terror,” we should welcome a war between Shia and Sunni as that will weaken our enemy from within.

I have placed this emphasis on Peters’s column, not because I have a high opinion of Peters or think he’s significant in himself, but because he is a strong mainstream supporter of the Bush policy, and therefore his turn is significant. Furthermore, as the dream of the Bush policy fades from Peters’s eyes, perhaps he will see the possibility of at last fighting the war that Bush has largely failed to fight—not the imaginary and unwinnable war to spread democracy to jihadist Muslims, but the real and winnable war to defend ourselves from jihadist Muslims.

A reader writes:

Wow. That is huge.

Didn’t the Democrats support a similar policy?

LA replies:

The only thing I’ve heard from Democrats is “Withdraw,” period, with no plan, no purpose. Just “Withdraw.”


Ah, yes. That’s correct. Now I remember.


The key thing, as stated by Hugh Fitzgerald at Jihad Watch yesterday, is that Bush by waging such a stupid war has discredited the idea of any war.


1. What we need (in Fitzgerald’s very good formulation): A war to defend ourselves against the supporters of jihad.

2. What we’ve had under Bush: A war to spread democracy.

3. What the Democrats want: No war at all. Retreat, accommodation, surrender.

Democrats, reacting against Bush’s disastrous, dishonest, whacked-out, and unwinnable war, have gravitated toward demanding no war at all, just withdraw, period. Peters, a war supporter, now he sees Bush’s policy failing, and is potentially moving toward the understanding of a real war, a war to defend ourselves against Muslims, rather than a war to democratize Muslims.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 27, 2006 09:11 PM | Send

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