Diana West

"Al Qaeda and other extremists from across the world have come to stop the rise of a free society in the heart of the Middle East," the president said -- "extremists," black, "free society," white. Al Qaeda & Co. aside, constitutionally mandated sharia will stop a free society every time. But never mind. Our plan, he said, is "to ensure that a democratic Iraq succeeds." He continued: "If we yield Iraq to men like bin Laden, our enemies will be emboldened; they will gain a new safe haven; they will use Iraq's resources to fuel their extremist movement."

But what if we don't yield Iraq to men like bin Laden? Does Iraq become, as the president predicts," a free nation, and a strong ally in the war on terror" -- in other words, as pure as driven, er, sand?

It's worth pondering the blackness and whiteness of Iraq's possibilities around the 9/11 anniversary, particularly as Iraq's prime minister was simultaneously making his first state visit to Iran -- blackest black, no? There, ardent declarations of brotherly love and neighborly cooperation from the Jew-hating Iranian president and the Hezbollah-tolerant Iraqi prime minister came out more purple than anything else.

But such disquieting cosiness -- quite natural, given Mr. Maliki's longstanding, Shiite and Iranian ties -- raises an alarming question: What if we defeat Sunni-dominated "extremists" only to make Iraq safe for Iranian Shiite "extremists"? Far from being a question of black and white, Iraq's future could well come down to a choice between black ... and black.

The president believes "the safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad." Examining the chronically overlooked reality on the ground makes it difficult to agree. Yes, the safety of America depended on going to Iraq; and yes, the safety of America probably depends on staying in Iraq -- but not to force the freedoms of the West onto a culture, which any way you cut it, is reverting to Islamic law. This isn't to say we don't have a do-or-die mission in the region. We do, and I'll put it in black and white: It is to stop the corrosive spread of Islamic law, through violent terrorism and peaceful immigration, into the West.

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).