If I sound like the Roman politician Cato in repeating this warning endlessly, I do so with reason. The destruction of an entire American army in Iraq would mark a historic turning point. It would prove to be America's Syracuse expedition -- echoing the fate of the army that the classical Greek democracy of Athens lost in Sicily around 414 B.C. The Syracuse expedition is what the Iraq war has resembled from the start.
Today, the U.S. strategic position in Iraq hangs by a thread, its long, thin supply line coming up through the Persian Gulf and Kuwait. If the Islamic Republic of Iran and its allied Iraqi Shiite militias who already control southern Iraq cut that line, the best outcome we can hope for is a "sauve que peut" -- save what is possible -- withdrawal of U.S. forces north into Kurdistan.
To this happy picture, a Likud government in Israel that looks likely to be elected to power in the general election of Feb. 10 might add a war with Syria and an open U.S. break with Pakistan, driven by Pakistani popular anger at the United States for its alliance with a Likud-led Israel under the direction of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. That would cut the main U.S. supply line for the war in Afghanistan over Pakistan-controlled air space -- again forcing a withdrawal.
All of this would occur against a background of a world economic depression, a depression that new wars in the Middle East would intensify. The price of oil, now artificially depressed by a fire sale of commodities held by hedge funds, would soar to unprecedented heights.
Those countries still exporting oil might dump the dollar and demand payment in gold. The American defense budget could skyrocket at a time when the U.S. government under new President Barack Obama faces an urgent need to cut federal spending, leading to printing-press dollars and hyperinflation.
It may be that elections in Israel hold more meaning for the United States than did the United States' own domestic presidential election that Obama won two months ago. One writer quoted in The Washington Post said that if Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona had won the November U.S. election, history would have paid the United States a visit with "the shroud, the scythe and all Four Horsemen."
Unfortunately, that may be no less true now that Obama, the Democratic nominee, won instead. For Obama must now find the wisdom and courage to break with the Democratic Party's foreign policy establishment. That establishment is as tied to Israel as Russia's foreign policy establishment was tied to Serbia in 1914. Past, I suspect, is prologue to its repetition in the future.
(William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation.)