Making predictions is a risky business, especially when they concern the Middle East.
In Western eyes, the place and its occupants are, to say the least, inexplicably bizarre and it's hard enough to divine what's going there now, much less figure out what's going to happen in the future.
With that proviso in mind, I'm going to risk suggesting one eventual outcome of the war in Iraq nobody has seemed to consider, at least not openly. We're all familiar with the warnings of the dire outcomes said to follow a premature withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, and I'm not about to disagree with them.
Prudence suggests that the country will erupt in sustained violence, that Iraq will become a satrap of Iran, the West's oil supplies will vanish, and the entire Middle East will be instantly converted into a brutal Taliban-like theocracy.
That is, unless . . .
Let's start with this. Despite our starry-eyed vision of a democratic Iraq sending forth the tentacles of democracy to all their neighbors, creating a copy of America's Jeffersonian democracy in the process, neither Iraq nor any of its neighbors are now or ever will be candidates for participatory democracy. They aren't built that way.
In Iraq, history shows that without a tyrannical government suppressing them , the population, which goes off in multiple directions all at once, is simply ungovernable. A quick look at Iraq under the Maliki regime shows that.
Past history also proves the point. Time and again, attempts to set up democratic governments in Baghdad have inevitably ended in bloodbaths where elected officials have been ousted and killed, to be replaced by a tyrant, Saddam being only the latest example.
Saddam Hussein understood that Iraq is not one nation, but at the very least three different countries each with its own religious version of Islam and tribal customs, few if any of which had any similarities to those of their neighbors. Iraq is just another one of those geographical and ethnic monstrosities Britain and the other colonial powers created and then abandoned to their own devices. Africa is littered with them.
Saddam, ever the pragmatist, understood this well.
He knew he could not govern this weird conglomeration under the rule of law and the ballot, and instead governed it under the rule of the rifle barrel, the hangman's noose, and the blade of an executioner's sword.
He maintained a semblance of domestic tranquility by torturing, imprisoning, and killing those he saw as threats to Iraq's stability, along with their families. Mass graves serve as silent testimony to the extent of his peculiar method of domestic peacekeeping.
Viewed in this prospective, the whole idea of maintaining a stable Iraqi government operating under traditional democratic principles falls just short of being a sick joke . . . A very sick joke. Nuri al-Maliki and his government are not at fault — the fault lies in the absurd idea that history can be repealed and that sanity can be successfully introduced into a Middle Eastern nuthouse.
Given these facts it is more than obvious that there are only three possibilities for the future of Iraq as a single nation:
1. We leave and Iraq explodes
2. We stay indefinitely and prevent the explosion
3. An iron-fisted authoritarian government replaces the present inept regime
It's the third possibility that intrigues me — let’s call it the man on the white horse scenario, which I am willing to bet is among the possibilities being thought about somewhere in the bowels if the Pentagon's planning offices.
We have expended vast amounts of energy and treasure to create an Iraqi army capable of fending off al-Qaida and the domestic insurgency and by all accounts Iraq's new army is beginning to resemble a genuine and effective warrior force capable of standing on its own.
This means that Iraq now has efficient, well-trained generals and upper level officers who know how to command and to lead, and among them there have to be men so outstanding they have the respect and loyalty of their troops and of the Iraqi people.
Somewhere in their ranks there is a secular-minded general or colonel with ambitions and talents beyond that of being a commander of troops but instead, a commander of all the Iraqi people. Let's call this man on the white horse Gen, Ali Hur Nothin.
Let's further imagine a nationwide crisis that calls for a man with an iron hand and a sense of personal destiny a la Charles de Gaulle and an army at his back to step foreword and deal with it decisively, and in so doing solves the crisis, takes over the reins, forces the divergent population to stop killing each other, restores order, provides electricity and the prospect of prosperity for all and enforces domestic peace.
That's our General Ali. I'll bet he's lurking out there, ready to answer destiny's call.
I just hope he won't adopt Saddam Hussein as his role model.
Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist and World War II Marine who writes for NewsMax.com.
He is editor and publisher of Wednesday on the Web (http://www.pvbr.com) and was Washington columnist for National Review magazine in the 1960s.
He also served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee and helped handle the Washington public relations operation for the Alaska Statehood Committee which won statehood for Alaska.
He is also a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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