Oh, Shi’ite!

Ah, the fruits of victory. Uncle Sam promised the Iraqis democracy, and now they actually want it – long enough to elect an ayatollah, anyway. The Iranians, far from being discouraged, now cast an acquisitive eye on their western suburbs. The liberated Kurds are busy emulating Saddam. Instead of becoming Amway salesmen, the Taliban have reverted to peddling jihad. Kim Jong-Il hasn’t beaten his nukes into Hyundais. Who woulda thunk it?

Now, I’m just a dolt who went to state school, so I’d never question the foresight of a Yalie. No sir, predictions aren’t my bag. I drink my tea instead of reading it and leave the forecasts to experts. Amid all the antebellum chest-thumping from Charen, Coulter, and Hanson, though, I can’t find the slightest prescience of postwar uh-ohs. Sure, last week some belated Cassandras warned us about the Shia – 60% of Iraq’s population! Who knew? – but timing is everything. Not to worry, though; the hawks are poised to swoop again.

Those who opposed the war face two lousy options, and that suits the hawks just fine. Option #1: leave immediately. Send some relief, call it a democracy, and get the hell out. Option #2: stay forever. (If you think "forever" hyperbolic, then explain why we’re still in Germany, Italy, and Japan, with no end in sight. Is Hitler in Argentina? Did Mussolini have a gallows doppelganger? Is Tojo biding his time on some Pacific atoll?) The National Greatness crowd knew every soft spot in Option #1 before the war even started. "You want to let these guys vote? They’re a danger to themselves, not to mention us [read, as always, Israel]. Jesus, we’d be better off sending Al Sharpton to run the place." Yes, we Americans hate to sleep in the beds we make. Why, it offends our sense of justice! Hand Iraq over to those who resent our meddling? That would be like letting gluttons and smokers bear the costs of their vices, and we won’t stand for that.

So it’s on to Option #2, albeit a sunnier version. We wouldn’t want to repeat one of President Reagan’s "rare mistakes," as David Pryce-Jones refers to the withdrawal from Beirut. No, no, we won’t stay forever – don’t believe that alarmist pap. Six months, twelve months, two years tops. Only as long as it takes us to calm fears of U.S. imperialism, settle the Shia-Sunni tiff, and resolve the little family feud that began in Genesis. OK, maybe five years. In the meantime, watch the happy masses from Egypt to Saudi Arabia fall at our feet. It won’t be long before U.S. tanks flatten the pyramids and shatter the Kaaba – at the behest of the emancipated, of course.

There’s only one tiny potential hitch. The Shia are easygoing folk, so don’t expect them to bring it up, but aren’t they getting the bad end of a double standard? Why can’t they even dream of their own theocracy when the U.S. props up another one just down the street? I’m not saying we should subsidize Iraq’s theocrats at the same per capita rate we do Israel’s. That would be $12 billion plus per year, and Arabs can be bought for much less. For one thing, they don’t possess our mathematical savvy. Consider the sorry state of Iraqi textbooks:

Q: What do you get when you add 3 rocket-propelled grenades to 4 Kalashnikov assault rifles?

A: Seven ways to kill the infidel enemy.

How can we lose with that sort of arithmetic? Let’s set up a fort and start buying the place with beads! Oh yeah, we already paid in shells.

Our dividends? An emboldened axis of evil. The human voice knows few phrases as sweet as "I told you so," but it leaves a bitter aftertaste in the present circumstances. Given the hawks’ record of public wagers, it’s no wonder that even the CIA now gazes at a different crystal ball. Now’s not the time to be smug, though. You think the Shia will distinguish between you and Donald Rumsfeld? You think North Korean missiles are smart enough to miss your house?