The bombing on February 22 of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, Iraq, was a tragedy, but it was not an American or a coalition tragedy.
The destruction of the Golden Dome, built in 1905 and one of the holiest shrines of Shiite Islam, represents an escalation of the Sunni assault on the Shiites, a purposeful outrage intended to provoke an emotional backlash. It signals not Sunni weakness but the determination of elements in Iraq’s long-ruling community to reassert its dominance. Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, has rightly warned, “The fire of sedition, when it breaks out, can burn everything in its path and spare no one.” One shudders at the possible carnage ahead.
That said, Iraq’s plight is neither a coalition responsibility nor a particular danger to the West.
When Washington and its allies toppled the hideous regime of Saddam Hussein, which endangered the outside world by beginning two wars of expansion, by building a WMD arsenal, and by aspiring to control the trade in oil and gas, they bestowed a historic benefit on Iraqis, a population that had been wantonly oppressed by the Stalinist dictator.
Unsurprisingly, his regime quickly fell to outside attack, proving to be the “cakewalk” that many analysts, including myself, had expected. That six-week victory remains a glory of American foreign policy and of the coalition forces. It also represents a personal achievement for President Bush, who made the key decisions.
But the president decided that this mission was not enough. Dazzled by the examples of post-World War II Germany and Japan