Iraq's Moment of Truth


The opening sentence of Victor Davis Hanson's new essay from Iraq is a little off-putting:

"The insurgency in Iraq has no military capability either to drive the United States military from Iraq or to stop the American training of Iraqi police and security forces — or, for that matter, to derail the formation of a new government."

We know today that, in fact, the insurgency has indeed temporarily derailed the formation of a new government. Zeyad is close to despair:

"What kind of nation are we? What kind of nation kills its intellectuals and academics, its doctors and healers, its women and children, its clerics and preachers? What kind of nation blows up churches and mosques, hotels and schools, funerals and weddings? We have left nothing sacred. Yet we have the insolence to accuse others of offending us, of vilifying us. I announce today that we have proved ourselves worthy of that vilification. Ten years ago, I denounced religion and disavowed Islam. I do not want to be forced to disavow my country and nation today, but with every new day, I’m afraid I am getting closer to it."

But if we were to look on the bright side, we could also say the following: the attack on the Samarra mosque is so heinous an atrocity in its patent blasphemy and attempt to ignite sectarian passions that it may be a good sign. How much more hideous a thing could the insurgency achieve? And yet, Iraq hasn't disintegrated - yet. Today, the government has restored a semblance of calm. How could the insurgents top such a terrible crime? Attacks in Najaf might do the trick, I suppose. But we may now be seeing the maximum damage the insurgency can do to the process of forming a new government. If Iraq can manage to stagger toward a political consensus government after this, then it will have crossed a Rubicon of its own. Maybe it takes staring into the abyss of civil war to pull back from it. I know I may sound Pollyannish, but it is too soon to despair or to relent. And far too soon to pull out.