The painful reality is that the current Iraqi regime, characterized by the Bush administration as representative of the Iraqi people, largely defines itself by its physical location: the 4-square-mile U.S. fortress within Baghdad protected by a wall 15 feet thick in places and manned by heavily armed U.S. military popularly known as the Green Zone.
Here is a plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran: Iraq fails to meet the benchmarks for progress toward stability set by the Bush administration. This is followed by U.S. accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure, then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the United States blamed on Iran, culminating in a "defensive" U.S. military action against Iran.
This plunges a lonely United States into a spreading and deepening quagmire lasting 20 years or more and eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Indeed, a mythical historical narrative to justify the case for such a protracted and potential expanding war is already being articulated. Initially justified by false claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the war is now being redefined as the decisive ideological struggle of our time, reminiscent of the earlier collisions with Nazism and Stalinism. In that context, Islamist extremism and Al Qaeda are presented as the equivalents of the threat posed by Nazi Germany and then Soviet Russia, and 9/11 as the equivalent of the Pearl Harbor attack that precipitated U.S. involvement in World War II.
This simplistic and demagogic narrative, however, overlooks that the Nazi threat was based on the military power of the most industrially advanced European state and that Stalinism was not only able to mobilize the resources of the victorious and militarily powerful Soviet Union but had worldwide appeal through its Marxist doctrine.
In contrast, most Muslims are not embracing Islamic fundamentalism. Al Qaeda is an isolated, fundamentalist aberration. Most Iraqis are engaged in strife not on behalf of an Islamist ideology but because of the U.S. occupation, which destroyed the Iraqi state.
Iran, meanwhile, though gaining in regional influence, is hardly a global threat; rather, it is politically divided, economically and militarily weak. To argue that the United States must respond militarily to a wide Islamic threat with Iran at its epicenter is to promote a self-fulfilling prophecy.
No other country shares the Manichean delusions that the Bush administration so passionately articulates. And the result, sad to say, is growing political isolation of and pervasive popular antagonism toward the United States.
[From an article by Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to President Carter, Los Angeles Times']