Hilary Clinton and Al-Qa'eda in Iraq
by Ian Welsh, Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 02:05:25 AM EDT
Matt Stoller has an article in which he notes that the Democratic front runner, Hilary Clinton, is effectively for continuing the war. What's interesting to me is not so much Matt's article but the responses in comments.
It seems a lot of commenters, presumably Democrats, think that the US has to keep troops in Iraq to fight al-Qa'eda.
I am, frankly, floored by the sublime stupidity. Not only is this buying, lock stock and barrel, into Republican framing, but it's simply incorrect.
The US will never, ever, defeat al-Qa'eda in Iraq. They haven't in the years they've been there, and as long as they have significant numbers of troops there odds are very strong al-Qa'eda will also be there. The only people who can ever defeat al-Qa'eda in Iraq, are Iraqis, because only Iraqis will actually have the necessary informant network. Since al-Qa'eda is a relatively small movement in Iraq, defeating it militarily isn't that difficult - if you can find it. It doesn't take US military forces, any of the major Iraqi militias have the necessary military strength to do it so long as none of the other major militia's protect it.
But right now, and for as long as it serves their purposes, which will be for as long as the US has a troop presence running around in Iraq, the Sunni insurgency will allow al-Qa'eda to do a lot of the dirty work for them. When the US leaves there will be a general settling of accounts. When that's done there'll either be someone in charge of Iraq; there'll be a de-facto partition, or there'll be a Lebanonization. In two of those three scenarios al-Qa'eda is toast. In the third it'll probably stick around to be used against those who are denying the Sunnis a share of oil wealth.
Clinton's use of the al-Qa'eda boogeyman to justify staying in Iraq, to keep the permanent bases she appears to want just as badly as the NeoCons, is more likely to lead to both an Iraqi failed state (since as long as the US is in Iraq it stops Iraqi factions from properly fighting it out, which is, yes, a bad thing since it stops one of them from winning or stops them from coming to a natural equilibrium) and it will result in al-Qa'eda staying in Iraq, since it will have hosts who want it to stay, or at least Iraqis will not be in a position to properly rout it out - something that only Iraqis, and not Americans can do.
Clinton's desire to remain in Iraq will continue the war in Iraq - the Iraqi people want the US out, and if it does not leave, many of them will keep fighting (wouldn't you, if the situation was reversed?) She is for the war in Iraq - she voted for it, she has always refused to say she was wrong for doing so, and she would keep US troops in Iraq if elected. Her use of al-Qa'eda to justify keeping troops in Iraq is nothing more than a cynical play on the American public's paranoia about al-Qa'eda, not a sincere strategy to defeat al-Qa'eda (or if it is, she's beyond stupid, something I don't believe.)
Hillary's a pro-war candidate. And if Democrats nominate her, they will be nominating a pro-war candidate. And then the war will be a fully American war, not just a Republican one.
And Hillary is still leading the polls very nicely, thanks.
I've lately been taken to task by another editor at the Agonist for daring to suggest that Americans are responsible for the war. Nominate Hillary, and with both major parties being pro-war, it will become awfully hard to argue that those who genuinely oppose the war are anything more than a powerless, meaningless majority in America.
Or to put it another way - at some point what the US actually does matters more than what Americans say they want it to do. And having troops in a country whose population doesn't want them there is practically the definition of "war".