So much for the lack of post-surge U.S. business benefits in Iraq, as I wrote last week. Now, what kind of post-surge ally is Iraq?
I write in wonder that the ultimate failures of the surge strategy -- which include the failure of anything resembling a U.S. ally to emerge in post-Saddam Iraq -- have never entered national discourse. Rather, the strategy that "won Iraq" has been mythologized as a "success" to be repeated in Afghanistan.
It's not that there aren't hints to the contrary -- as when U.S. ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill arrived at the Iraqi parliament in early December and "some deputies," the New York Times reported, "demanded he be barred from the building." Or when 42 percent of Iraqis polled by the BBC in March 2008 still thought it "acceptable" to attack U.S. forces. Or when Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, as U.S. forces transferred security responsibilities to Iraqi forces in June, obstreperously declared "victory" over those same U.S. forces! Such incidents convey hostility toward the United States inside Iraq, but there's more. Of greater consequence are the positions against U.S. interests Iraq is taking in world affairs.
Take the foundational principle of freedom of speech, continuously under assault by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in the international arena. The OIC includes the world's 57 Muslim nations as represented by kings, heads of state and governments, with policies overseen by the foreign ministers of these same 57 nations. Describing itself as the "collective voice of the Islamic world," the OIC strives to extend Islamic law throughout the world, and to that end, is the driving force at the United Nations to outlaw criticism of Islam (which includes Islamic law) through proposed bans on the "defamation of religions" -- namely, Islam. This is a malignant thrust at the mechanism of Western liberty. Where does post-surge Iraq come down in this crucial ideological struggle?
Then there's Iran.
Iran may be a menace to the West, but it is also Iraq's largest trading partner. Heavily involved in Iraq's reconstruction, Iran has masterminded extensive loan, tourism and energy programs in Iraq while maintaining close connections to Iraq's dominant Shiite political parties. This disastrous fact should dampen -- at least enter into -- assessments of the surge strategy's "success."
But it doesn't. Not even the fact that Bank Melli -- the Iranian terror bank outlawed by the U.S. Treasury as a conduit for Iran's nuclear and terrorist programs -- operates a branch in Baghdad gives pause to one-surge-fits-all enthusiasts. The Bank Melli example is particularly egregious because the bank funds Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps' Qods Force, which is responsible for innumerable American casualties in Iraq -- American sacrifices on behalf of Iraq. Guess we're supposed to look the other way. But that's like applauding the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the United States and Iraq without noticing that the agreement prohibits the United States from attacking Iran (or any other country) from Iraq.
Additionally, Maliki's public refusal even to criticize Hezbollah in 2006 prompted Dan Senor, a former Bush administration advisor in Baghdad, to write in the Wall Street Journal: "It wasn't supposed to be this way. We had thought that a post-Saddam Iraqi government would be less susceptible to Arab League pressure. ... This change of tone was to be a model for the region."
And why did "we" ever think this? Such was -- and is -- the deceptive power of the see-no-Islam fantasy.