No one can tell if the widespread and totally unchecked violence spreading across Iraq will turn into a declared civil war. But for months the world has held its breath, knowing that such a war was bubbling just beneath the surface. The undeclared sectarian war was already obvious to everyone. Reality is catching up with fantasy, as the neo-cons and other right wingers learn a hard lesson: History isn't the pawn of bright ideas.
Here are the facts reality faces us with: Iraq was a militaristic country ruled by arms. Its male citizens almost universally own guns and often machine guns. They were attacked by armed force, and they live in an unstable region where violence is the most common form of political expression. Killing your political enemy is a daily occurrence. These facts, which have been true for two generations, didn't stop the administration and its neo-con theorists from believing in the fantasy of American troops embraced in the streets, after which a liberated Iraqi people would transform into a free market of democracy-loving consumers ready for Coca-Cola, the Internet, and F-16 fighters.
In the New York Times on Feb. 19 Francis Fukuyama wrote a detailed epitaph and mea culpa for the neo-con beliefs that got us into this immoral and unwinnable conflict.
As intelligent as his article was, every single point had been made in advance by the vast majority of Iraqi experts that the administration arrogantly ignored. We are now isolated and hated as never before. Our allies mistrust us. We have on our record the blot of starting a preemptive war, a blot that will never be erased. The Iraq we have created is weak, divided, and open to destabilizing influence from all sides (the influx of terrorists from other countries is only the beginning -- witness Syria's stranglehold on Lebanon).
The red states believe that the U.S. went into Iraq to bring democracy and prevent terrorist attacks on American soil. Many still believe that, while cynics say this is all about oil. Both sides are mistaken: this was about a right-wing world view that thought it could alter the course of history with the mere wave of a hand. There was no follow-up plan after the Iraqi invasion toppled Saddam because the neo-con world view said none was needed. It also said that the Middle East was ready for democracy. And that the U.S. was a shining model of peace despite our horrific arms buildup.
As the darkness closes in even further, we must accept history for we cannot escape it. It's inevitable that the administration will limp along for three years talking to itself about how right it was. As Iraqi society collapses, the neo-cons will have to live with the truth, which is that they never cared a straw for the Iraqi people. They only wanted to prove that their ideology must prevail. How ironic that their arch-enemy, Communism, spent seventy agonizing years doing exactly the same thing.