Diana West

"This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we -- not our enemies -- occupy the moral high ground." -- Gen. David Petraeus, May 10, 2007

Oh, they must, must they?

With his single sentence, Gen. Petraeus reveals what's wrong with our Iraq policy. Success depends not on our own actions, but on a politically correct expectation of how Iraqis will react to those actions. It seems that victory depends on something over which we have no control -- the point of view and behavior of people in Iraq.

Consider the "surge." Even if our troops achieve the goal of "securing the population" by securing Baghdad, success still rides on subsequent Iraqi behavior: whether murderously competing Iraqi sects decide to come together and sing "Kumbaya" -- what you might call a big "whether."

Somehow, I'm practically alone among conservatives in believing this to be a dangerously ill-conceived policy (Surrender-crats aren't worth discussing here), and I think I know why. The Iraq policy itself is an outgrowth of another dangerously ill-conceived policy of our leaders to avoid any rational assessment of the Islamic culture that informs the point of view and behavior of people across the Fertile Crescent in the first place. In other words, most people with even an elemental understanding of institutional Islamic antipathies toward non-Muslims and non-Muslim culture would balk at spending blood and treasure for Gen. Petraeus' "hearts and minds" strategy. Such a criterion, sadly, disqualifies our deeply Islam-challenged elites, all of whom seem to have missed the fact that "moral high ground" in Islam makes room for suicide-bombing terrorists. No wonder our guys are having trouble.

Still, we persist in ordering American forces onto Iraq's meanest streets to "win over the trust and allegiance of the civilians," as a Weekly Standard report on Gen. Petraeus' counter-insurgency plan recently put it. What goes unconsidered is why, after all the lives and limbs our troops have already lost in Iraq, after all the lollipops our troops have already passed around Iraq, Iraqi "trust" and "allegiance" aren't already ours for the asking. Could it be that most of the Muslims who make up about 99.99 percent of the Iraqi population simply don't trust infidel armies? Could it be that they only offer allegiance to fellow Muslims?

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).