The neo-conservatives were the vanguard who advocated, lobbied for and won the authorization forcibly replace Saddam Hussein with Shiite Iraqis linked to Iran.* Having installed those forces in power in Baghdad, the same neo-conservatives now blame President Obama for losing the country to the Iranians.
Frederick and Kimberly Kagan are longtime neo-cons linked to the American Enterprise Institute and an entity called the Institute for the Study of War. Nine days after Obama announced his Iraq pullout, the Kagans declared in a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece, “Iran has just defeated the United States in Iraq.” (Los Angeles Times, October 27, 2011)
The truth is that Iraq and Iran are different countries and fought a bloody war against each other just two decades ago, in which the US supported Saddam Hussein. It also is true that Iran’s ayatollahs have been influential in educating, training and supporting Iraq’s Shiites in their long battle to win power in Iraq. And it is no secret that millions of Iranians visit Iraq’s Shiite holy places on pilgrimages every year. Or that Iran’s government and armed forces are opposed to a hostile US occupation force on their long Iraqi border.
Imagine Iran receiving permission to build bases on the US borders with Mexico and Canada.
So one wonders what the neo-conservatives and partisan Republicans were thinking.
- They (and the Israelis) were so threatened by secular Arab nationalism that they supported Shiite ayatollahs as a perceived alternative.
- They must have believed in a permanent American military occupation to keep all those Iraqis in their place.
- They envisioned an American military base and strike force in Iraq just in case hostilities erupted with Iran.
All those strategies ended in failure. A hint of another neo-conservative agenda, according to the Kagan’s, is that “an Iraq dependent on Iran for survival could undercut any sanctions that the international community places on Iran to prevent its acquisition of nuclear weapons.” Got that? American troops should stay in Iraq as a deterrent against Iran becoming a nuclear power.
Since that reasoning is too controversial, better to crank up the politics-of-blame machinery to attack Obama. This is only the beginning of the neo-cons return.
*For background, please see Ending the War in Iraq, by Tom Hayden.