A reader recently e-mailed me about casualties sustained by his nephew's Stryker unit in Iraq after an attack by an Iranian-manufactured fragmentary device. "Why," he wrote, "are we not leveling the plants in Iran that manufacture these weapons?"
Well, that would make too much sense. It's obvious Iran is at war with us -- and not just in Iraq, where its agents and proxies kill and maim Americans by arming and organizing some of our many foes there. Throughout the region, from Hamastan (Gaza) to Hezbollah-land (Lebanon) to Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, along with Syria, is pursuing its war against us, and our interests. But we pretend, as a matter of policy, not to notice.
I don't claim to know the whole answer, but fear must surely figure into it -- fear of wider war, which I guess is natural, but also fear of a deeper truth, which is more difficult to overcome. That deeper truth starts with the realization that our strategic interests do not lie within the borders of Iraq. After all, what do we get even if the "surge" succeeds in establishing security in Baghdad and even if -- and this is the impossibly big "if" -- the Iraqis manage to establish a functional government?
The answer, under the best of circumstances, would seem to be a Shiite state that not only enshrines sharia (Islamic law) above all, but also promises to be a natural ally of Iran. Which doesn't exactly sound like an ally in the war on terror, or whatever we're calling it these days. Worse, even if we ultimately manage to have established "the new Iraq," we still won't have addressed the greater problems posed by the old Iran and Syria.
And why is it that all we can hope to get out of our costly, lengthy Middle Eastern war is just another Western-hostile Sharia State? Here comes another difficult realization: It turns out that bringing democracy to Islam just brings democracy to Islam. In other words, ballot booths don't change the illiberal aspects of Islam; they merely provide for them to be voted into office.
At the end of the election day, it's still an Islamic culture -- whether it's in Iraq, the shrinking Palestinian Authority, Afghanistan, or elsewhere. As such, it functions more or less according to guidelines laid out in a supremacist theology that fails to recognize the equality of women and non-Muslims, and, in its political manifestations, is doctrinally ill-suited to Western alliances that are anything but fleetingly expedient.