With Hezbollah’s mini-success in Lebanon, and Iran’s success in subsidizing Hezbollah and moving towards the development of nuclear weapons, it has become the conventional wisdom that the Shiites have surpassed the Sunnis as the main threat to the West. Less note is made of the main reason why the Sunnis seem to be lagging — the fact that they have no major state sponsoring their terrorism and their development of weaponry. Even less note (none that I’m aware of) is made of the reason why the Sunnis lack such a state — the overthrow by the U.S. of the Taliban in Afghanistan and of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
Some will object that Saddam didn’t need to be overthrown because he was in his “box.” But does any fair-minded observer imagine that Saddam Hussein, coming off of a showdown with the West in which the U.S. blinked, would be sitting quietly in a “box” while his hated rival Iran moved from strength to strength?
The U.S. is substantially better off because only one of the two main branches of Islam has strong state support for its efforts at terrorism and aggression. But a U.S. pull-out from Iraq could easily squander that advantage.