The US failure to restrain Israel has only strengthened Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has already become a major player in the world wide scramble for Middle Eastern resources. As Israel's disproportionate attack on Lebanon nears the end of its first week, the fact that Lebanon —hitherto the region's best hope for Democracy —will find more in common with Iran than with the US who has clearly left Lebanon to its fate at the hands of Ehud Olmert. The so-called great game is lost; Bush, if not checkmated, is, at least, checked in what Zbigniew Brzezinski called The Grand Chessboard
In the year 2003, Juan Cole wrote:
Most Shiite leaders in Iraq have made a tactical decision not to resist the Anglo-American occupation during the coming year. They hope the US, in recreating Iraq as a parliamentary democracy, will give them the political power they deserve by virtue of their numbers. If not, or if the Americans overstay their welcome, the Shiites might well turn against them. It is not, however, clear that the community is united enough yet to effectively close ranks against coalition forces.Brzezinski's thesis, however, was taken up by Bushco, a group easily swayed by grandiose and megalomaniacal visions of American pre-eminence in a post-Soviet world. Brzezinski's thesis encouraged less gifted thinkers to envision the Bush administration holding absolute sway throughout the Middle East from oil-rich former Soviet satellites to the shores of the Mediterranean.
—Juan Cole, Shiite divisions give the US breathing room
Instead, Iraq has become a black hole pointing up the fatal inconsistencies in Bush's plan for world dominance if not outright conquest.
Chess players will understand this analogy: Bush lost the game with a flawed opening. As early as July of 2003, the BBC would report that "...the new Centcom commander, John Abizaid, said coalition forces were facing what looks like a systematic guerrilla war". The Bush administration failed to understand and fully appreciate that much of the Middle East is less "state" oriented than tribal in nature. Power throughout the region is, therefore, capable of coalescing unpredictably to outside threats. In Iraq, specifically, Bush failed to anticipate the rise to power of a Shi'ite theocracy capable of forming an alliance with Bush's boogie-man du jour: Iran.
Shias account for about 90 percent of the Iranian population, some 70 percent of all people living in the Persian Gulf region. About 140 million people living in an area from Lebanon to Pakistan call themselves Shias; that's about 50 percent of all people in that region. It's not surprising that Bush himself would have been ignorant of these elementary facts. It is inconceivable, however, that Condoleeza Rice, as National Security Advisor at the time, would not have done at least five minutes of basic research before consenting to complicity in Bush's decision to commit US troops to a war of naked aggression cum quagmire cum disaster.
By liberating and empowering Iraq's Shiite majority, the Bush administration helped launch a broad Shiite revival that will upset the sectarian balance in Iraq and the Middle East for years to come.Reportedly, the Bush administration is worried about the way the world is trending. That's cold comfort. It is Bush and his gang of incompetents who may be credited with having fanned the flames. Could Bush have behaved otherwise? Yes —but only if he had represented the interests of the people of the United States instead of the combined interests of Dick Cheney's Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil, Unocal, the since failed Enron, and other representatives of big oil. Their long term interests are the control of the world price of the world's most addictive drug: Oil! American democracy and world peace are just not very high on their list of misplaced priorities.
Iraq's liberation has also generated new cultural, economic, and political ties among Shiite communities across the Middle East. Since 2003, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, coming from countries ranging from Lebanon to Pakistan, have visited Najaf and other holy Shiite cities in Iraq, creating transnational networks of seminaries, mosques, and clerics that tie Iraq to every other Shiite community, including, most important, that of Iran.—Vali Nasr, Foreign Affairs, When the Shiites Rise