The battle for the soul of the region continues in Iraq
What Tom Barnett said in 2004 about Operation Iraqi Freedom continues to prove true:
Disconnecting the great disconnector from the Gulf’s security scene is only the beginning of our effort, because now Iraq becomes the great battle field for the soul of the whole region. That second victory will be far more difficult to achieve. Our efforts to integrate Iraq into a wider world will pit all the forces of disconnectedness in the region against us. Therefore we must enlist the aid of all the forces of connectedness across the Core—not just their troops but their investment flows and their commercial networks.
America needs to demonstrate to the Middle East that there is such a thing as a future worth creating there, not just a past worth re-creating, which is all the bin Ladens will ever offer Muslim populations—a retreat from today’s diminished expectations. If America cannot muster the will—not to mention the Core’s aid—to win this struggle in Iraq, we will send a clear signal to the region that there is no future in the Core for any of these states, save Israel.
Related: Columbia political science professor Richard Betts explains the grand strategies whose shifting lens can be used to understand a complex security landscape.