This fact makes me wish to reconsider al-Maliki's ungrateful and slanderous statements -- at least as far as his apparent dissatisfaction with our presence goes. After all, the American mission has indeed been accomplished. Saddam Hussein no longer poses a threat to the region. His WMD programs, such as they are, have been destroyed. The idiotic U.N. Security Council resolutions, all 17 of them, have been upheld. Now the hydra-head of jihad in Iraq (Zarqawi) has been killed. Our only failure -- to create, say, Switzerland in Iraq -- is, to say the least, not for want of trying. It is high time to redefine the mission: What we should aim for is an Iraq that is not a terrorist threat, not an Iraq that is a democratic paradigm.
Would such a change in mission mark a defeat for the United States in the so-called war on terror? Only if we failed to rethink our overall strategy, particularly as it pertains to our assessment of Islam. That is, if Jeffersonian democracy remains a strategic goal for Iraq, anything short of that goal will be scored as a failure. But what if we accept the politically incorrect fact that our failure to establish liberty and justice for all in Iraq -- namely, freedom of conscience and equality before the law -- is due to the nature of Islamic culture, not to the efficacy of American efforts? If, five years after Sept. 11, we finally faced the fact that liberty in Islam -- defined, literally, as "freedom from unbelief" -- has nothing to do with liberty in the West, we could finally understand why an Iraqi constitution enshrining sharia is wholly incompatible with everything our own democracy stands for, and is thus not something worth dying for.
Such a reassessment would remove the "political transformation" of the Muslim Middle East from our war strategy. This would let us focus on the formidable military task of fighting jihad in Iraq and beyond -- eliminating, deporting and containing the threat as needed. This is a global war with many fronts, from Iran to Syria to Gaza to quite a few neighborhoods in Toronto, London and elsewhere. It is time to arrive at new ways and means to fight on them.