In the spirit of my last post (lo, those many months ago), I'd like to continue with my apocalyptic theory of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. As my title suggests, this is not meant to be a likely scenario. It's a worst-case scenario, from the global human perspective. From the Washington Consensus perspective, it could be worse. Their worst-case scenario would be if China gained control of all that oil and natural gas in the Middle East and Central Asia. But enough of this gay banter...
It seems like the U.S. military is doomed to disastrous failure in Iraq. I can discern no hope of American forces securing a peaceful occupation of the country. There's little chance they'll be able to sit serenely in their 14 permanent bases in Iraq and periodically step out to quash a rebellion against the puppet regime or a predictably "terrorist" attack against the oil industry.
So what's a humiliated empire to do? Withdrawal would allow the people of the Middle East to govern themselves, and true democracy abroad has always been the American Empire's worst nightmare, especially in regions with a wealth of natural resources. Whatever governments would spring up in the wake of our exit, be they authoritarian or democratic, they would certainly harbor a deep, abiding hatred of the U.S. Our oil imports from the Persian Gulf would dry up, while China and the rest of the world (maybe even Europe) would see their shares of the bonanza grow. It's highly doubtful they would stop exporting to all countries, as I believe some religious extremists have suggested in Saudi Arabia, for then they would face an invasion (perhaps united) by all the world powers.
The other option, "staying the course," will gradually drain more blood, materiel and support from the imperial endeavor until the troops are forced to leave by a combination of native hostility in Iraq and a deafening public outcry against the war at home.
With the emergence of a new multipolar world order, the Middle East will enjoy greater self-determination. This should be self-evident to the Bush administration now that even they find it difficult to deny the catastrophe that is Iraq. Given the above scenario that would follow withdrawal, it's no wonder they're clinging to their "stay the course" position like grim death. You can bet Dubya is on his knees every night praying to his Book-of-Revelation God for a miracle that will restore American dominance of the Middle East. But no amount of newfound humility or Iraqi and American death will bring back the good old days.
But, speaking of Revelations, there is another option. Nuke the Middle East. Then there wouldn't be any energy resources for anyone. (They'd have to withdraw the troops first though. The war machine would still be needed.) It's the logic of the playground: If I can't play my way, then I'll take the ball home so no one can play. It'd be pretty drastic. We could still buy oil from the region. The key difference, though, is that "our" transnational corporations wouldn't be the ones profiting. That's just how evil our gov't is, even if not all of the officials in Washington are aware of it. If Peak Oil drove the administration to orchestrate 9/11, then why not a nuclear holocaust to wipe out a race of people they despise?