Michael Ledeen barks up a storm on NRO:
The clear strategic conclusion remains what it should have been long before Coalition troops entered Saddam’s evil domain: No matter how strongly we wish it to be otherwise, we are engaged in a regional war, of which Iraq is but a single battlefield. The war cannot be won in Iraq alone, because the enemy is based throughout the region and his bases and headquarters are located beyond our current reach. His power is directly proportional to our unwillingness to see the true nature of the war, and our decision to limit the scope of our campaign.
The true nature of the war exposes yet another current myth: that we are at greater risk because we failed to send sufficient troops into Iraq. More troops would simply mean more targets for the terrorists, since we are not prepared — nor should we be — to establish a full-scale military occupation and to “seal off” the borders with Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Hell, we can’t even seal off the Mexican border with the United States, an area we know well. How can we expect to build a wall around Iraq?
No, we can only win in Iraq if we fully engage in the terror war, which means using our most lethal weapon — freedom — against the terror masters, all of them. The peoples of Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are restive, they look to us for political support. Why have we not endorsed the call for political referenda in Syria and Iran? Why are we so (rightly and honorably) supportive of free elections in the Ukraine, while remaining silent about — or, in the disgraceful case of outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell, openly hostile to — free elections in Iran and Syria? Why are we not advancing both our values and our interests in the war against the terror masters?
Hmmmm… now Ledeen is saying what people like me were saying from the start… Iraq is just a sideshow. But the neocon cabal wasn’t interested in taking on the entire Middle East back when it was a matter for a debate, (although to be fair, Ledeen has always had his crosshairs set on Iran), instead the uncomfortable fact that Saudi Arabia and Iran were far more involved in terrorism than Iraq was swept under the rug in favor of focusing on the more “doable”.
What’s particularly strange about this is the idea that since we don’t have enough troops to secure Iraq against its neighbors, we should attack four more countries. Now, this would have been viable if we stuck to my favored strategy – go in, break things, get out – but it is not feasible given the nation-building mandate that is the administration’s only justification for the present Iraqi Occupation.
For the neocons, it seems that even the realization of the danger inherent to getting what you asked for isn’t enough to prevent them from asking for more. Are Americans really up for occupying Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria as well as Iraq? I don’t think so. And if Ledeen tries to insist that he’s not actually advocating attacking and occupying these countries, then one must ask why American troops are still in Iraq if free elections can be created by the simple fact of the US requesting them.