Something Andrew Sullivan said in one of his posts really struck me about the current Iraq mess, and started those ol’ neurons a’firin’:
Whatever David Petraeus says next month – and we know it’s going to be a glowing report of massive success – the reality of Iraq endures. That reality is that there is no Iraq. The “government” is paralyzed between sectarian factions none of which wants a national, political settlement any time soon.
I didn’t have any new ideas about Iraq–I’m not a brilliant international diplomat, I’m just a technical writer with a big mouth and lots of opinions who reads a lot–but I started to put some things together in my head. Consider these facts:
- Kurdistan, i.e. northern Iraq, is currently the most peaceful portion of Iraq by far. Further, the Kurds are the only ones who actually want the United States there.
- The current “head” of the “national government,” al Maliki, let slip a few weeks ago that the American military could leave any time, so far as he was concerned. He quickly recanted (presumably after a good talking-to in one of his daily video conferences with Bush), but that doesn’t change the fact that it slipped out.
- The Sunnis and the Shiites have been fighting each other, no kidding, for centuries. They have been holding grudges about things that have happened hundreds of years ago. Imagine, if you can, Notherners still being mad about the Battle of the Crater and Southerners still holding a grudge about Antietam 600 years from now, and people from Atlanta wanting to shoot people from Boston about it. In Baltimore. And doing so. That’s Iraq right now. Do we really believe that these people are going to paper over their differences and form a unified democratic government in a few months? Who are we fooling?
- Despite diplomatic pressure, the Iraqi government went on vacation anyway.
So the Doug theory, for what it’s worth, is that the Iraqi “unity government” doesn’t give a damn about actually doing anything. They know that Bush is leaving office in January, 2009. They know the American people have had it with this idiotic war. They know that the next Administration, no matter who it is run by, will start to withdraw American troops.
Until that time, they are marking time. They are accumulating weapons and training. They are killing as many of the “enemy” (Shia or Sunni) as they can get away with. They are engaging in low-level ethnic cleansing. And once we’re out of the way–which is bound to happen sooner or later–Iraq will break up into Kurdistan, a Shiite state, and a Sunni state. The Shiite state may align with or be completely taken over by Iran; I have no idea. There will probably be some pretty ugly ethnic cleansing in various cities. A huge battle for Baghdad.
I could be wrong, obviously; like I say, I’m a technical writer, not a diplomat. But why on Earth should we expect tribes that have been fighting for hundreds of years to get together and create a “national government” in a country that was created by colonialists out of nothing in particular, just for our convenience? It’s insane, not to mention delusional and stupid.
I think the sooner we recognize the real situation and deal with it, the better off we’ll be. (Hey, the Kurds want us there! Isn’t one of our goals to have an ally in the Middle East? How tough is this? Duh!) But unfortunately, we’re stuck dealing with the boneheads in the Bush Administration for the next 17 months. God help us all.