Iraq: Will we prevail or "cut and run?"
Despite the dangers posed by the Sunni/Baathist and foreign insurgents, 11 million of Iraq’s 15 million voters cast their votes on December 15, 2005, to elect the members of an Iraqi Parliament. The Iraqi turnout was a stunning 73.3-percent. By contrast, American voter turnout in major elections averages just over 50-percent.
But the obvious fact that the Iraqis (to include the Sunnis) take voting more seriously than Americans is not what makes Iraq’s December 15th parliamentary election historic. What is truly historic is that Iraq could be well on its way to becoming the first-ever Arab democracy in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, with the death of Yassir Arafat, the “road map for peace” between the Palestinians and Israel is back on track toward a separate Palestinian State able to live in peace with its Israeli neighbors. Attacks on Israelis are at historic lows. Moreover, the presence of Coalition Forces inside a democratic Iraq hampers the support of Iran and Syria for Hamas and other terrorists targeted against Israel.
So, in that time-honored spirit of “I told you so,” let’s go back to June 30, 2004, when your faithful observer did a piece for USA Today entitled: ‘Heartland’ Strategy in Iraq: Right idea, if done the right way.” I suggested that the Bush Administration may have adopted the Heartland Theory as put forth in 1904 by Sir Halford John Mackinder -- one of the great strategists of the 20th Century. I wrote, in part, as follows:
“…Here’s how the Heartland Theory would apply to Iraq: Get a globe and put your finger on Iraq. Notice how your finger is resting right in the middle, the ‘heartland,’ of the Middle East, halfway between Egypt and Pakistan.
“In 1904, British geographer Sir Halford John Mackinder placed his finger on Eastern Europe and declared that to be the ‘pivot area’ or "heartland’ of Europe. Sir Halford declared: ‘Who commands Eastern Europe commands the heartland; who rules the heartland commands the world-island, and who rules the world-island commands the world.’ (By world-island, he meant the Euro-Asian-African landmass.)
“Did anyone buy the Heartland Theory? Yes. Napoleon understood it even before Mackinder was born. That is why he attacked Czarist Russia. Moreover, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin and three generations of the world’s foremost military strategists embraced it as gospel and acted upon it.
“…The essential element in the Heartland Theory is simply ‘being there.’ Properly applied, being there means Iraqi oil revenue cannot go to al-Qaeda. Being there means the Iraqis can choose whatever government they want as long as it does not support terrorism. Being there means interdicting the radical Islamists’ lines of communication that run across the Middle East from Cairo to Islamabad…
“Meanwhile, the inescapable geographic truth is that we have now occupied the heartland of the Middle East. If Sir Halford John Mackinder’s Heartland Theory is correct, our mere presence there will have a major impact on the outcome of the War on Terror. But maintaining public support for our continued presence will require military tactics that reduce our casualties to more acceptable and sustainable levels. If that can be achieved, then the armchair strategists and the soccer moms may create the common ground of broad public support that will be essential to our continued and successful occupation of the heartland of the Middle East.”
Without exception, history’s great military strategists have said that wars are not truly won on the battlefield. They are won or lost at home. By every measure, the U.S.-U.K.-led Coalition is winning on the battlefield and the recent surveys, even by the Sinistra Media, show the Iraqis want us to stay until their security forces are up and running.
Ironically, the fate of a potentially democratic Iraqi and the value of the sacrifice of those already killed or wounded in Iraq will be decided by a people who, at best, can only muster just over 50-percent of themselves to vote in their most important elections.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer and philosopher,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2005. William Hamilton.