Sunday, February 26, 2006

[Foreign Policy]

Iraq: Is It a Civil War?

The new question in Iraq is whether what we're seeing augurs war or is war. Since the tail end of foreign policy week yet wags, here's a two-minute opinion. The question is of course semantic--how you determine the answer depends on how you define war. So there's not an actual answer to be had.

That said, it's obviously a civil war, and has been a civil war for months. Sunnis and Shias have wanted to lop off each others' heads for decades, and a US-imposed "democracy" ain't gonna change that. Insurgent attacks on the colonial government were incipient shots in that war. Kurds were engaged in the democratic process to the extent that it protected Northern oil fields, which they have eyeballed since the invasion. Shi'ites wanted control of the government so they could replace Saddam as ruling oppressors (which reports of government-run death squads confirm), and Sunni's were busy bombing everything because it was the way a 20% minority managed to avoid getting whacked.

The US can stay or go, but short of re-installing a strongman or dividing the country in thirds, the cival war that began in March 2003 will play itself out. That no one in the US government could see it coming is illustrative that our great empire was in decline before it ever started.

Consign yourself to an Iraqi civil war--the Iraqi's did long ago.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Indeed. I agree with Emma here. Iraq is in a state of civil war, albeit one that is defined by unusual characteristics. Unlike Vietnam, Korea, or the U.S., there really aren't well established military/industrial capitols directing the different sides. Also unlike the infamous aforementioned civil wars, there aren't major foreign powers officially backing different sides. Instead, we have a flimsy excuse for a central government that's supposedly trying to contain the situation with security forces that are supposedly devoted to said government. In reality, we have nothing more than an ineffective puppet government of the Bush/Cheney regime and security forces that have divided sectarian loyalties that run far deeper than any allegiance to the current cronies in Baghdad. The "Iraqi Army" is going to be doing their real fighting on their days and nights off. They may divide and dissolve completely, taking their efforts to their sectarian sides as the war progresses. As the Sunnis and Shiites tear into one another, a few interesting questions arise... Does division amongst Muslims serve U.S. interests or not? If so, did Uncle Sam orchestrate the initial bombing of the Shiite Temple or at least facilitate it by not preventing it? Or conversely, is the civil war a bad thing for U.S. interests the way that the wars in Vietnam and Korea were? And- What will the Pentagon do now? Will we get our military hopelessly bogged down as in the historical examples of the Asian civil wars? Will Uncle Sam then be forced to reinstate the draft? Or will the international oil companies that Bush/Cheney represent be forced to cut their losses as we pull out altogether to avoid another Vietnam?