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The Mask Slips

Max Boot is admirably candid. He helps us realize that this election is indeed at root a decision on whether to keep troops in Iraq for the next century or more:

In order to build on the success that General Petraeus and his soldiers have had, we need to maintain a long-term commitment in Iraq - for 100 years if need be, as John McCain has said. That doesn’t mean 100 years of fighting; clearly, that would be unsustainable. It does mean a long-term troop presence designed to reassure Iraqis of our commitment to their security against an array of enemies.

Their security? Heh. In fifty years' time, the Iraqis will not be able to defend themselves against Iran? Or Syria? Please. If they've managed this much progress in the last year, we could be almost out of there in the next president's term of office. Even under Saddam, the Iraqis weren't defeated by the Iranian mullahs. Notice also how a few months of relative calm are instantly deployed to justify a century of occupation. Can you imagine what the next platform for invasion will be? And on what planet does Boot live to think that permanent US troops in the heart of the Muslim Middle East will not require endless, endless fighting?

This obviously isn't about Iraq, as we are fast discovering. It's about an ever greater American entanglement in the Middle East in part to secure oil supplies we need to wean ourselves off and in part a foolish attempt to protect Israel. And Joe Klein is in no way engaging in anti-Semitism - please - by pointing out the increasingly obvious fact that the Iraq war was in part launched to assist Israel (even though many Israelis were against it):

You want evidence of divided loyalties? How about the "benign domino theory" that so many Jewish neoconservatives talked to me about--off the record, of course--in the runup to the Iraq war, the idea that Israel's security could be won by taking out Saddam, which would set off a cascade of disaster for Israel's enemies in the region? As my grandmother would say, feh! Do you actually deny that the casus belli that dare not speak its name wasn't, as I wrote in February 2003, a desire to make the world safe for Israel?

Why the rush now to bomb Iran, a country that poses some threat to Israel but none--for the moment--to the United States...unless we go ahead, attack it, and the mullahs unleash Hezbollah terrorists against us? Do you really believe the mullahs would stage a nuclear attack on Israel, destroying the third most holy site in Islam and killing untold numbers of Muslims? I am not ruling out the use of force against Iran--it may come to that--but you folks seem to embrace it gleefully.

The truth is: We didn't need this war, we now see, and neither did the Israelis; and a war that was originally about our existential security should not be morphed into a permanent US occupation of a region that chews up outsiders and spits them out with alarming economy and frequency.