How Empires End

Responding to the call of Pope Urban II at Claremont
in 1095, the

Christian knights
of the

First Crusade
set out for the Holy Land. In 1099,

Jerusalem was captured.
As their port in Palestine,
the Crusaders settled on Acre on the Mediterranean.

There they built the great castle that was overrun by

in 1187, but retaken by

Richard the Lion-Hearted
in 1191. Acre became the
capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the stronghold
of the Crusader state, which fell to the Mameluks in a
bloody siege in 1291. The Christians left behind were

The ruins of Acre are now a tourist attraction.

Any who have visited this last outpost of Christendom
in the Holy Land before

Gen. Allenby
marched into Jerusalem in 1917
cannot—on reading of

the massive U.S. embassy rising in Baghdad
—but think
of Acre.

At a cost of $600 million, with walls able to
withstand mortar and rocket fire, and space to
accommodate 1,000 Americans, this mammoth embassy,
largest on earth, will squat on the banks of the Tigris
inside the

Green Zone.

But, a decade hence, will the U.S. ambassador be
occupying this imperial compound? Or will it be like the
ruins of Acre?

What raises the question is a sense the United
States, this time, is truly about to write off Iraq as a
lost cause.

The Republican lines on Capitol Hill are crumbling.
Starting with Richard Lugar, one GOP senator after
another has risen to urge a drawdown of U.S. forces and
a diplomatic solution to the war.

But this is non-credible. How can U.S. diplomats win
at a conference table what 150,000 U.S. troops cannot
secure on a battlefield?

Though Henry Kissinger was an advocate of this
unnecessary war, he is not necessarily wrong when he
warns of

"geopolitical calamity."
Nor is Ryan Crocker,
U.S. envoy in Iraq, necessarily wrong when he says a
U.S. withdrawal may be the end of the America war, but
it will be the start of bloodier wars in Iraq and across
the region.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari also warns of
the perils of a rapid withdrawal: "The dangers vary
from civil war to dividing the country to regional wars
… the danger is huge. Until the Iraqi forces and
institutions complete their readiness, there is a
responsibility on the U.S. and other countries to stand
by the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people to help
build up their capabilities."
Envoy Offers Grim Prediction on Iraq Pullout
John F. Burns and Alyssa J. Rubin ,New York Times,
July 10, 2007]

In urging a redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq,
and a new focus on diplomacy, Lugar listed four
strategic goals. Prevent creation of a safe haven for
terrorists. Prevent sectarian war from spilling out into
the broader Middle East. Prevent Iran`s domination of
the region. Limit the loss of U.S. credibility through
the region and world as a result of a failed mission in

But how does shrinking the U.S. military power and
presence in Iraq advance any of these goals?

Longtime critics of the war like Gen.

William Odom
say it is already lost, and fighting on
will only further bleed the country and make the
ultimate price even higher. The general may be right in
saying it is time to cut our losses. But we should take
a hard look at what those losses may be.

It is a near certainty the U.S.-backed government
will fall and those we leave behind will suffer the fate
of our

Vietnamese and Cambodian
friends in 1975. As U.S.
combat brigades move out, contractors, aid workers and
diplomats left behind will be more vulnerable to
assassination and kidnapping. There could be a stampede
for the exit and a Saigon ending in the Green Zone.

The civil and sectarian war will surely escalate when
we go, with Iran aiding its Shia allies and Sunni
nations aiding the Sunnis. A breakup of the country
seems certain. Al-Qaida will claim it has run the U.S.
superpower out of Iraq and take the lessons it has
learned to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. The

, with an army already on the border, will go
in to secure their interests in not having the Kurdish
PKK operating from Iraq and in guaranteeing there is no
independent Kurdistan. What will America do then?

As for this country, the argument over who is
responsible for the worst strategic debacle in American
history will be poisonous.

With a U.S. defeat in Iraq, U.S. prestige would
plummet across the region. Who will rely on a U.S.
commitment for its security? Like the British and French
before us, we will be heading home from the Middle East.

What we are about to witness is how empires end.



Patrick J. Buchanan

no introduction
readers; his book

State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America

can be ordered from