Sunday, June 26, 2005

What If America Fails In Iraq?

We write this as firm & continuing supporters of the war to depose Saddam Hussein.

Even such Indians who dispute the logic of the war cannot but acknowledge all the strategic good this has done for India. The post-WWII global order, in which India had little say, has mercifully been shattered. The UNSC was shown toothless, Arab tyrannies (& Pakistan) are being pressured to change, the Atlantic Alliance has cracked, EU is in the midst of political implosion, and India is being courted by every one of the other great powers (especially the US).

This fortunate circumstance is hardly a consequence of Indian genius & planning -- our foreign policy mandarins opposed the Iraq war & continue to think the Security Council matters! Still, serendipitous as it may be, we have found ourselves with a chip in the great power game & hopefully will find the wisdom to turn this into power & prosperity.

Incidentally, Indians sense this intuitively, and as Nitin points out, view America (the catalyst of these terrific developments) with great favor.

There is an emerging cloud on this sunny outlook, however. America votes in November 2006. This means, if by spring of 2006 (i.e. 9 odd months from now) Iraq is not stable, Republican lawmakers will begin worrying for their prospects in the up-coming election. If so, President Bush will come under great pressure to reverse course (at least in some measure) on Iraq. There are good reasons to think this is a real possibility.

If this happens, it would be a disaster for the world, and for India.

If America retreats from Iraq, a huge implication follows. America's enemies would have confirmed that democracies can't endure long-drawn out insurgencies. They will thus take heart & revise their war doctrines -- the "trap & bleed" strategy will find renewed favor worldwide. Also, American retreat from Iraq would end the noble neo-conservative aspiration of forcing the Islamist world (including Pakistan) into political modernity.

In light of this prospect, if you were Pervez Musharraf for example, you'd be well served to be patient. You might stall by talking up a good game of reform & peace & economic engagement, all the while keeping your powder dry for the moment America retreats. That would finally be the favorable U-turn you've waited for all these post-9/11 years. Then, you'd strike hard at India -- whose gullible people have bought your peace facade, hook, line & sinker.

The "trap & bleed" strategy will return to Kashmir; only this time it'll look a lot worse -- a lot like Iraq. Car bombs everywhere & beheadings will be coin of the realm. Leonard Cohen's worst fears might come to life even in paradise:

And now the wheels of heaven stop
you feel the devil's riding crop
Get ready for the future:
it is murder

We hope America will find the inner strength to stay the course, all the way to absolute victory that, at the moment, seems so far off. This happy outcome will avert the nightmare ably described by Mr. Cohen. But, it's also time to start worrying. And, Indians better start fortifying themselves for what'll inevitably follow -- and in some ways, has already begun.


Nitin said...

India missed a great opportunity by not supporting the US in Iraq. Nevertheless, it is in India's interests to ensure that the US does not lose in Iraq.

I once started a blog because of this.

Akshaia said...

I would like to start a campaign to ask the Indian govt, with the support of all of Iraq's neighbours, to take over the stabilization of Iraq and ask the american soldiers to go home, as Indians take over.

Primary Red said...


Your proposal is a bit radical, we'd say.

Indian military has its hands full in Kashmir, another battlefront like Iraq that needs to be fully secured.

The only real path is for India to focus on Kashmir & the US to finish its task in Iraq.

Best regards.


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