Diana West

Did anybody really need a leaked memo from the National Security Agency to figure out that Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is incapable of stopping the carnage in Iraq? Given that his political power depends on factions allied with Shiite militias behind much of the carnage, Maliki has never fit the white hat and brass star in this wretched desert saga. Insult to injury, he even left the president in Jordan this week, cooling his heels, as they say, when Maliki postponed a summit meeting after the memo leaked.

Then again, what about Bush? Why hasn't he been able to bring order to Iraq with the U.S. military? Here's the answer: As a creature of Shiite thug-o-crats, Maliki's hands are tied. As creatures of political correctness, we have tied our own hands.

And almost literally. The PC rules of engagement imposed on American soldiers have as much to do with the chaotic limbo our troops find themselves in as failed political policies. Closely held, these rules -- burdensome constraints, really -- have become obvious to everyone, including our foes. News reports tell us potential targets in Iraq must be engaged in hostile acts, or show "clear intent," before our men and women can take a shot at them. Mosques where insurgents seek shelter and store arms are no-go zones for American soldiers. We don't even shut down mosque loudspeakers that broadcast incitement against our troops. Marine Maj. Jeffrey O'Neill put it this way to the Christian Science Monitor: "Many would ask, What other war would we allow the enemy to broadcast calls for our defeat for the sake of cultural sensitivity?" The answer is no other war, at least no other war fought to win. But we don't even know what victory looks like -- unless anyone seriously believes victory looks like just another basic death-to-America-and-Israel sharia state dominated by Shiites with ties to jihadist Iran. Next to such a prospect, chaotic limbo doesn't look good, but it does postpone that sure-to-be nasty shock of recognition.

But is our choice only "victory" or else? (Forget Plan B, soon to come from the blue-ribbon lunatics -- I mean, "realists" -- of the Iraq Survey Group, who are expected to argue that it's in America's national interest to "solve" Iraq by seeking help from the terrorist likes of Iran and Syria.) And what is "or else," anyway?

"Or else" refers to the cataclysm that's supposed to occur should we decide that remaking Islamic culture isn't our strong suit or in our national interest, and thus refocus our mission so as to ensure that Islamic culture doesn't remake us. Depending on its purpose and execution, withdrawal -- or better, redeployment -- wouldn't necessarily lead to cataclysm.

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).