Thursday, July 26, 2007

Iraq Pullout Risks Falling Dominoes in the Mideast

I've blogged previously on the consequences of a U.S. pullout from Iraq. My earlier reflections on the topic focused on the immediate humanitarian and military aftermath of a precipitous drawdown.

Clifford May, however,
over at the National Review, suggests that a U.S. pullout would cause a dramatic shift toward pan-Islamist militancy across the Middle East.
It's an updated domino theory for the geopolitics of the Iraq war. An Iraq drawdown would cause Pakistan to rethink its alliance with the U.S., allowing fundamentalist forces there to gain an upper hand:
It is probable that Militant Islamists would soon rise to power in other countries as well. Start with Jordan, a nation that already has been attacked by suicide bombers dispatched by al Qaeda in Iraq. Move on to Bangladesh. Add Lebanon, too, a fledgling democracy under intense pressure from Hezbollah, Iran’s longtime terrorist proxy.

Gaza is now ruled by Hamas, a terrorist organization supported by both Iran and Sunni extremists in league with al Qaeda. Its short-term ambition will be to take over the West Bank as well.

Opponents of the U.S. mission in Iraq say they want to “change course.” Most refuse to specify what their new course would be. Others say they want U.S. troops to “redeploy” to friendly countries in the region. But in international relations, nothing cools a friendship like defeat. For any regime to rely on the U.S. for security after the U.S. has abandoned Iraq would be high-risk. In fact, it would soon become apparent that the continuing presence of American forces invites subversion, terrorism and assassination of those in power.

Over time, the only Muslim-majority states to resist the Islamists will be those that accommodate the Islamists. The Europeans, too, will cut their deals.

Israel will hold on — or die trying. You can’t imagine a second Holocaust within a hundred years? Imagine harder.
May goes on to note that Iranian nuclear proliferation would continue full steam ahead, with Iranian predatory designs reaching past the region. Americans could play defense at home, May argues, looking out for both traditional and non-state nuclear threats, and enhancing homeland security.

On the other hand, we could fully support General Petraeus and U.S. forces as they continue routing terrorism in Iraq. And we can sustain full backing of the emerging democracy in Baghdad - an imperfect regime it may be, but one that will thwart terrorism, serving as a key Middle East state holding forth againt the "Islamic empire builders."

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