Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Wretched is this Peacemaker
A footnote to Fred Kagan's exceptional work on events in Iraq: he rightly says "al Qaeda in Iraq is a foreign-run Iraqi terrorist organization." Moreover, one has to stipulate that "Iraqi terrorist" is a term rather more complicated than outfits like al-AP seem to understand. Many Iraqis went to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, where they were trained/indoctrinated by the mullahs for twenty-plus years. We're talking about several million people, not a few cadres. Some of them, along with children, were sent into Iraq to fight us. It's very misleading to simply call them "Iraqis." Maybe they—and their children even more so—should be called "Iranians of Iraqi origin," or "Iranian agents" or some such. [emphasis added]
While many Iraqi Shiites did flee to Iran during the Iraq/Iran war (and during the subsequent suppression of the Shiite uprising post-Gulf War I), Ledeen is leaving out a couple of key points, and twisting some others. First, these exiles include people like Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, many of Maliki's Dawa party co-members, as well as large majorities of the party formerly known as SCIRI (now ISCI). Most of these exiles returned to Iraq post-invasion in order to seize power - not to fight us. We helped them to achieve this goal, and continue to help them, so there is little actual need to fight us. For now.
As such, and contrary to "fighting us," these previously-exiled-in-Iran groups are working in close concert with American forces (see, ie, Bush's big weekend phote op with Maliki), and are much more amenable to our continued presence in Iraq than, say, Iraqi Shiite leaders/groups that never left Iraq for Iran during this period such as Moqtada al-Sadr and his followers. This cooperation comes with good reason too. We are currently arming, training (further) and supporting thousands of Badr Corp. foot-soldiers and integrating them into Iraq's official security forces. Badr Corp. is ISCI's militia, which was recruited, formed and trained in Iran during these exiled periods. Interesting way to limit Iran's influence in Iraq, huh.
Taking this argument one step further, there are two possibilities. First, Ledeen is actually suggesting that Dawa and ISCI are "fighting" the Americans. Alternatively, Ledeen is deliberately conflating many actors and their histories in order to confuse the issues and create the impression that Iran's nefarious influence is greater than it is in reality (deceitfully implying that Sadr's forces are Iranian exiles and agents)?
If the former, and if Ledeen is correct (two massive "ifs," I concede), isn't that an overpowering argument to begin withdrawing from Iraq now. I mean, our two strongest allies in the Shiite dominated Iraqi political sphere are actually "Iranian agents" "sent into Iraq to fight us." And our policy, in response, is to further arm and train them...in order to help them fight us on behalf of Iran. If the latter (which is the more likely interpretation), then this bit of dissembling is simply more pro-war agitprop from the most duplicitous hawk in the neocon nest.
As a follow up thought: Does Ledeen think we should begin to categorize other long time Iraqi exiles differently as well? "Iraqis" like Ahmed Chalabi - who left Iraq the same year the Dodgers left Brooklyn: 1956. That was three decades before most Iraqis that Ledeen now considers Iranians made their exodus. So, using Ledeen's model, Chalabi would most definitely be an American (or Brit) of Iraqi origin. Or, likely, an American (or British) agent. Ditto Allawi who left Iraq in 1971.
I expect to see him pushing for this clarification as well. After all, it's exceedingly misleading to simply call them "Iraqis."
Postscript: In other Michael Ledeen news, the ol' pacifist himself has a book coming out in a couple of weeks entitled, The Iranian Time Bomb. In this work (rushed to market just as the Iran war drums are starting to pick up steam) Ledeen will explain to the reader why he opposes military confrontation with Iran and what an enormous mistake war with Iran would be - just as Ledeen strongly opposed war with Iraq and argued, repeatedly, that invading Iraq was wrong prior to the invasion.
You don't believe me? Check out the excerpts...