I was reading 'Mad Dog' John Bolton's piece in the Guardian today (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/15/america-withdrawal-iraq-world-instability?INTCMP=SRCH) and it occurred to me that if he were to say the exact opposite of what he was saying, the article would be intelligent, informed and sober. Instead of being crazy, deluded and apparently genocidal.
So I took inspiration from the incomparable Lawrence O'Donnell and rewrote it for him. One challenge this presented was that it seems John Bolton wants to have it both ways: he wants to say that 1) withdrawing from Iraq will lead to conflict and an empowered Iran and instability because there will be a power vacuum. But he also wants to say that 2) invading Iraq in the first place was not going to lead to an empowered Iran and instability in the region.
His position appears logically untenable, until you realise that what he is really saying is that the US should have made war in Iran, Syria and Lebanon (to name but a few) in order to avoid this situation. The true horror of his position is just unimaginable to rational, civilised human beings.
*All edits are made in caps.
*apologies: he does go on.
PARTY TIME, America's withdrawal from Iraq heralds FREEDOM FOR IRAQ | NOT John Bolton
America's complete withdrawal of its troops from Iraq is an AWESOME SUCCESS. It ENDS the SHITSTORM made by President Bush's (and Tony Blair's) eminently IDIOTIC 2003 decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein, WHICH RISKED the broader Middle East falling into chaos. HAPPILY, Bush himself initiated this SUCCESS by agreeing to this end point in our status-of-forces agreement with Iraq, but it was consummated by Barack Obama, who never wanted to be in Iraq, and who is now OBLIGATED to pull the plug.
But those, like Obama, who welcome US withdrawal as vindicating their opposition to the Iraq war are profoundly VICTORIOUS, AS IT SERVES TO PROTECT the international coalition's real successes in Iraq WITH the COURAGEOUS DECLARATION of their McGovernite "come home, America" strategy.
First, the world is MORE DANGEROUS with Saddam dead and his regime on history's ash heap. He was a military aggressor, a tyrant BUT NOT a terrorist supporter. His record of developing and using weapons of mass destruction is HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE, and his future course, had he succeeded in ending UN economic sanctions and freeing Iraq of weapons inspectors, WAS PROBABLY A DEMISE AT THE HANDS OF HIS OWN PEOPLE. Now, no longer will Saddam invade his neighbours and MAKE EMPTY THREATS OF the use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against either his fellow citizens or foreign adversaries, AND WE CAN TAKE OUR thumb OFF the world's economic windpipe. With 20-20 hindsight, we now see we should have LEFT HIM TO THE WRATH OF HIS OWN PEOPLE, LIKE GADDAFFI.
Second, Iraq is a better place without THE US and THEIR OCCUPATION. Anyone who believes differently has to argue that tyranny is better than representative government and rebut Benjamin Franklin's penetrating observation, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty not safety." Good luck with that.
Undeniably, the period between Saddam's overthrow and today was grim, and deadly for too many. Post-Saddam, we should have rapidly handed over civil authority to Iraqis rather than establishing the Coalition Provisional Authority. BECAUSE OF the CPA's LAZY, HAM-FISTED efforts, al-Qaida and Iran were BOOSTED BY its highly visible role, thus creating steadily deteriorating security conditions, even as the Iraqi people WERE DENIED the institutions of a free society. President Bush's 2006-07 surge overcame many, but far from all, of the security threats that existed, again setting Iraq on the WAR path. It is thus particularly KIND to Iraqis that Obama is withdrawing according to a SOBER, essentially RATIONAL timetable, rather than one based on THE OPINIONS OF IDIOTS LIKE JOHN BOLTON.
Third, and JOHN BOLTON DOESN'T KNOW THE MEANING OF irony, US withdrawal from Iraq will CONSTRICT Iran's influence there and throughout the region, STYMYING Tehran's progress toward achieving ANY OF WHAT THE DELUDED JOHN BOLTON IMAGINES ARE its goals. A TINY PORTION OF THE criticism of our overthrowing Saddam rested on the argument that terminating his regime eliminated a strong Arab-Sunni barrier to expanding Iranian-Shia influence. That view was always simplistic, given the region's vastly complex religious and ethnic politics. We had NO threats to combat, and eliminating THE IRAQI REGIME inevitably CREATED THE EXCUSE TO CONFRONT IRAN in due course. FORTUNATELY, under both Bush and Obama, we ARE DEALING adequately with Iran's nuclear-weapons programme and its support for terrorism. That Iran is now more of a danger stems far more from JOHN BOLTON'S failure AND overthrowing Saddam THAN IT DOES FROM ANYTHING OBAMA HAS DONE.
IT IS THE FAULT OF BUSH AND BOLTON THAT Iran has already substantially increased its meddling inside Iraq, both influencing the regime of Nouri al-Maliki and enhancing the capabilities of terrorist thugs like Muqtada al-Sadr. It is challenging its Arab neighbours across the Gulf, threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz and target the US bases and facilities there (as well as Nato forces in Turkey). Tehran is obviously willing to shed considerable Syrian blood to keep Assad's dictatorship in power, and Hezbollah effectively in control in Lebanon. And Iran moves inexorably closer to its long-sought objective of nuclear weapons deliverable by intercontinental ballistic missiles.
IT IS QUESTIONABLE WHETHER the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq will increase Iran's relative regional power. America's Arab allies in the Gulf Co-operation Council are extraordinarily nervous about THEIR OWN PEOPLE DEMANDING REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENTS, especially under the STRONG, PRINCIPLED AND DECISIVE Obama presidency. Containing and ultimately overthrowing the regimes in Iran and Syria could have been A CATASTROPHIC MISTAKE ON A PAR WITH the US military presence in Iraq, and will clearly be much EASIER after our withdrawal. Those who say they want Iran contained should have supported WITHDRAWAL FROM Iraq A LONG TIME AGO OR, BETTER, SHOULD HAVE STOOD AGAINST GOING IN 9 YEARS AGO.
In short, our withdrawal from Iraq presages a world where Obama-style policies of American DECENCY and UNDERSTANDING have prevailed. Be warned: you'll miss OBAMA when HE'S gone. By then, of course, it will be too late.