USA/Iraq...Whither, When?

While their representatives, such as they are, battle it out in chambers, it’s impossible to tell whether or not the Iraqis will opt for a Constitution and central government or, instead, battle it out in the streets, either now or after the U.S. troops have gone. The latter would seem at this point to be the case, the hatred shared by the Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis for each other being what it is, never mind that they’re all Muslims. After a quarter-century of brutal rule by Saddam and the Sunnis, making up less than 40% of the population, the Kurds and Shiites could hardly be expected to suffer a significant Sunni impact on any type of new government. On the basis of oil alone, this would be the case anyway, the oilfields being almost exclusively in the Kurd-dominated North and the Shiite-dominated South, but not in the Sunni-dominated Middle.

The notion that every country in the world, such as Iraq, can simply become a democracy practically overnight if given the chance is wishful thinking, in any case. Iraq’s literacy rate is only 40%, a primary ramification of such circumstance being that most of the people have too little actual education to make informed decisions and, whether consciously or not, are accustomed to deferring to small cadres of “others,” such as imams and petty power-brokers, to make their decisions for them. Indeed, in this country, with a population virtually totally literate, huge segments of the citizenry have practically no knowledge of what’s happening in their own country, much less in the rest of the world. However, no matter what happens in the short-term, the Iraqis will not advance to any type of agreement or accommodation with each other until they discover that the USA has no plans for letting Iraq become another Vietnam. If this means letting them know that they either will begin to take charge of their security or be left holding the bag, then so be it.

The president and other leaders should understand by now that a USA-type democracy likely will not fly in Iraq. It would be best if they simply admitted to that now, with the concomitant resolve to continue supporting the extant process toward some sort of government until it becomes obvious that the USA is simply being used by opportunists on all sides to furnish the amount of security possible under the terror-driven circumstances that prevail. If this means letting the leaders on all sides know, preferably surreptitiously (though secrecy cannot last long), that by a certain date the pullout of U.S. troops will begin, then so be it. It’s one thing for a soldier to engage the enemy in battle and perhaps even lose his life in the process, but quite another thing to be victimized by roadside bombs or kamikaze-type suicide/homicide bombers intent on buying a trip to the land of the virgins while killing as many Americans as possible. This is true even though there were as many Americans killed in a week in both World Wars I and II than in the almost four years since the war on terror began in Afghanistan and continued in Iraq.

The group probably most affected by such an announcement should be the Sunnis, though reason doesn’t seem to be a hallmark of the Sunni decision-making process. It stands to reason that the Sunnis, actually the holdout group thwarting an agreement on a Constitution, should understand that they automatically become an endangered species once the Americans and their Coalition partners leave. They form the cadre of Saddam henchmen that murdered hundreds of thousands of Kurds and Shiites during Saddam’s bloody reign, especially in the 90s, using everything from WMD to unspeakable torture in the process. Additionally, they surely must understand that their only hope for collecting any of the “oil money” upon which the nation’s economy is dependent lies in coming to an agreement. Even then, they’ll be lucky to collect after the Coalition troops are gone, Muslim revenge-mindset being what it is, but at least they can have the United Nations as a watchdog (though not too dependable a bunch of thieves) to look after their interests if they become part of a world-recognized settlement/government.

The Monday-morning quarterbacks or backseat drivers keep clamoring for this country to send more troops, the better to stifle the terrorism that makes a normal lifestyle impossible in Iraq. Perhaps they need to look at the situation from a perspective with a California component. Iraq and California have almost exactly the same geographic area, though California actually has ten million more in population. What would it be like in California if practically overnight 150,000 military personnel from anywhere took up positions in the state? Granted that the persons in California get along with each other just fine (except for the gangs, of course), this number of troops would seem adequate to police the state.

There are about 665,000 police officers in the United States (actually the figure for 2002, according to the FBI). California includes about 10% of the nation’s population, and so should employ something like 66,500 policemen to look out for 35 million mostly peaceful folks. This country alone has more than twice that number in Iraq plus the troops of Coalition partners plus thousands of Iraqis already trained as soldiers/policemen and tens of thousands more supposedly being trained, the whole gang to look out for only 25 million people, 20% of them living in Baghdad and almost another 20% in Basra, Mosul and Arbil, who are mostly peaceful with respect to each other. The conclusion to be drawn from this is that increasing the numbers of law-enforcement officers furnishes virtually no greater deterrent to the activities of idiot suicide/homicide monsters than obtains now, and this will be the case until those enforcers discover who the maniacs are and methodically dispatch them. Discovering these malefactors should be easy for the Iraqi enforcers, since they live in the same neighborhoods with them or know in other ways just who they are.

A friend who spent his early childhood in Iran once indicated that the mindset of the Iranis (Persians at the time, almost totally Shiite then as now) is anchored in the notion that the supreme test of a person is his ability or lack of same to outwit his friend or opponent…to get the best of any bargain, no matter the adversary, since even a friend is an adversary when the chips are down. This is being played out all too well in Iraq now, as particularly the Shiites are making a lot of noise while the Coalition troops are carrying the water. Until all of the Iraqis understand that Iraq will not become another Vietnam, they will continue to hoodwink this government. So…even if it seems like “eating a bit of crow,” the president should explain to the whole world, especially his fellow citizens, that soon the Iraqis will take charge of their country in the way they see fit (even if a theocracy, the most likely outcome) or they will be left slowly twisting in the wind. That will not be an admission of defeat, since Saddam and his cutthroats have been thoroughly knocked out of the saddle and this nation has stayed or will have stayed the course. In fact, this nation has already stayed the course no matter the current circumstances. The invasion was correct, but being tricked is not acceptable.