To the Editor:
In light of the unfolding disaster in Iraq, those who are willing to watch the fall of Baghdad as we watched the fall of Saigon need to consider some of the possible consequences.
First, the destruction of a democratic (if corrupt) government in Iraq by an al-Qaida army will be rightly perceived as a military defeat for the United States. It will reinvigorate fundamentalist, terrorist Islam worldwide, undoing the psychological blow we inflicted with the death of (Osama) bin Laden. It will embolden the enemy and invite terrorist attacks.
Second, from a military perspective, it will put a radical Sunni army in direct confrontation with a radical Shiite army backed by Iran. The war that has already engulfed Syria and Iraq will likely bring in Iran. Will Saudi Arabia stand by and watch the victory of her historical Shiite enemy, which would then control the oil of Iraq and Iran and have an army a few miles from the Saudi oil fields?
Third, instead of focusing solely on Iran’s western border, take a look to the east. The Taliban in Afghanistan are certain to be bolstered by an American defeat in Iraq. After they increase attacks on the departing American military, are they likely to join a wider conflict to assist their al-Qaida allies fighting Iran?
Far more importantly, what about the other Muslim state bordering Iran? Pakistan is already beset by Islamic militants allied with the Taliban. Is their government stable enough to survive a regional war? Pakistan already has nuclear weapons. Iran is developing them. What happens if either or both go to war?
Finally, it’s inevitable that a general Islamic war will have a victor. Whether it’s a Sunni or a Shiite militant Caliphate, it will be a disaster for the world in general and the United States in particular. Those who can still remember Sept. 11 know what a terrorist state in Afghanistan did to us. What about one stretching from the Mediterranean to the Indian border, armed with nuclear weapons?
Our country is war weary and dis-united, but it is critical that we face facts. Painful as it might be to intervene in Iraq to save a government we fought for eight years to put in place, the alternative might be a disaster unparalleled since the end of World War II.
Michael D. Homiller