Today, on Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol declared that the U.S. was close to victory in the Iraq war, arguing that the “only” concern left for the U.S is dealing with alleged Iranian involvement in Iraq:
We’re winning in Iraq. That is the absolute crucial precondition to having success in the broader fight against Islamic jihadism. … And I think we are going to have to be serious about dealing with both their intervention in Iraq — which is now the only real threat, I think, incidentally, to relative success in Iraq — and their nuclear program.
While Iran may be causing some violence in Iraq, there are more pressing “threats” to “success.” A National Intelligence Estimate released in February concluded that Iranian involvement was “not likely” to be a major driver of violence. An August McClatchy analysis found that the majority of suicide bombers in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia, not Iran.
In reality, “Iraq’s complex and overlapping sectarian, political and ethnic conflicts, as well as the difficult security situation continue to hinder progress in promoting economic development, the rule of law and political reconciliation,” according to Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen.
Kristol used his allegations of Iranian involvement in Iraq to push for more war in the Middle East, claiming, “There has to be the credible threat of force” with Iran. He was quickly rebuked by Juan Williams:
Do you think there’s any question about this — whether or not we have credible military force? We are the superpower in the world. … The thing is we have our military stretched beyond all bounds, and you seem to want to engage in other wars. I don’t know why you feel this way.
Bill Kristol will readily lower his standards for the Iraq war in order to implement his hawkish, neoconservative agenda.
KRISTOL: We’re winning in Iraq. That is the absolute crucial precondition to having success in the broader fight against Islamic jihadism. So Senator Obama was wrong about that.
And he’s wrong about Iran. Senator Obama’s professed position — he’s given speeches on this — is that Iran should not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. He’s not comfortable with an Iranian nuclear weapon.
And yet we’ve been pursuing diplomacy for four years, with our European friends — just two days ago, Ali Larijani, the Iranian negotiator who — when you go to the Europeans, they say, Well, Ahmadinejad is crazy, but he doesn’t matter. Khamenei, who knows? But Larijani — he’s a reasonable man. We can work with him. He resigned.
He was forced out. It looks like the Iranian government is going for the full hard line on their nuclear program. And I think we are going to have to be serious about dealing with both their intervention in Iraq — which is now the only real threat, I think, incidentally, to relative success in Iraq — and their nuclear program.
WALLACE: When you say getting serious, I think a lot of our viewers are going to say, Kristol thinks there’s going to be a war.
KRISTOL: I think there could be a use of force. September 6th, 2007, when Israel used force against Syria to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons with North Korean aid, is going to go down in history, I think, as the date where we got a glimpse of the kind of future we’re dealing with.
If diplomacy works, that’s great. There has to be the credible threat of force both on the nuclear issue and, I think much more short-term, though — I agree with Brit on this. I think the short-term question is does Petraeus think he needs a little help across the border to secure our successes in Iraq.
And if so, I think the president will give it to him. We can’t let them just build IEDs and train Iraqis with impunity across the border.
WILLIAMS: Look. Do you think there’s any question about this — whether or not we have credible military force? We are the superpower in the world.
The thing is we have our military stretched beyond all bounds, and you seem to want to engage in other wars. I don’t know why you feel this way.
KRISTOL: I want to win the war. I want to support the military who are fighting over there who are being killed…
WILLIAMS: Oh, wait a second.
KRISTOL: … who are being killed by Iranian weapons.
WILLIAMS: Just a minute. You mean when it came to the surge, you wanted to defend the surge. Why don’t we defend the fact that for five years we’ve been involved in a war that’s cost us life and limb, and we have — we’re totally out of control?