Iraq: What Do You Guys Think?

Iraq just keeps getting worse:

More than 130 people, including dozens who joined a demonstration against sectarian violence, were killed in bloodshed across Iraq despite calls for calm on Thursday from leaders, including President Bush, fearful of civil war.

A day after a suspected al-Qaida bomb destroyed a major Shiite shrine, Iraq cancelled all leave for the police and army and minority Sunni political leaders pulled out of U.S.-backed talks on forming a national unity government, accusing the ruling Shiites of fomenting dozens of attacks on Sunni mosques.

Washington, which wants stability in Iraq to help it extract around 130,000 U.S. troops, has also called for restraint, reflecting international fears that the oil-exporting country of 27 million may be slipping closer to all-out sectarian war.

Iraq has officially fallen off the wall, and all the King’s purple fingers and “Mission Accomplished” banners won’t be able to put her back together again.

The question is, what the hell do we do now?

Even though I opposed this war from the start, I find the idea of leaving Iraq a tumultous, bloody wreck to be irresponsible. A civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites would completely destablize the region, with Iran and Syria each jumping in the fray to gain strategic advantage in the region. It would be such a large-scale humanitarian catastrophe, that we’d likely have to go back in at some point anyway just to help clean up the mess.

On the other hand, leaving might be the best option we have at this point. It seems that civil war is now inevitable, and it’s really not something we want our military trapped in the middle of. There’s absolutely zero chance that we’ll be able to coax other countries to help us out, since G-Dubs and his neocon pals gleefully torched those bridges a long time ago. The only way we’ll ever have enough manpower to effectively maintain order in Iraq is by reinstating the draft, which would entail people like Ben Shapiro and Chistopher Flickinger getting off their asses and serving their country. I needn’t tell you, that ain’t gonna happen.

So I don’t know what to do at this point, guys. We either leave Iraq, dooming it to tragedy and civil war; or we stay, thus ensuring that our armed forces suffer the same fate. I welcome anyone who can come up with a more optimistic scenario in the comments.

UPDATE: Gregory Djerejian is somewhat more optimistic than I am (i.e., he doesn’t think Iraq is completely doomed for the next 40,000 years). Unfortunately, his plan for success seems to hinge on Bush firing Rumsfeld and hiring someone competent to run the Pentagon.

I’m lookin’ for realisitc alternatives here, peeps.


Comments: 36


sadly, I think the best case scenario is this:

Divide the country into three. Kurdistan, Sumeria and a Shiite central region, which presumably would promptly unify with Iran as soon as we leave.

Short of that, I see little prospect of averting an all-out civil war.

Of course, my highly naive proposal may have limited effectiveness in any case.

Heckuvajob, George. Really nice work.


Divide the country into three. Kurdistan, Sumeria and a Shiite central region, which presumably would promptly unify with Iran as soon as we leave.

The Kurds would be happy with that. The problem would be dividing the oil fields equitably between the Sunnis and Shiites.

But yeah, I think that might be the best scenario.


Well, you’re not going to get realistic while Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld are calling the shots.

But I think you’ve outlined it succinctly: we are left with two choices, stay or leave; both result in civil war.

But I think a departure of our troops, coordinated with UN planning, to allow some form of self-leveling to occur within Iraq, may be the best course.

UN involvement, with more of a REAL worldwide coalition, could help to provide some checks on Iran and Syria (as well as other neighbors) trying to cash in on the chaos.

And then, once again in concert with the UN, we would have to go back in in a real rebuilding and stabilizing effort. Of course, there woul dbe a need for an international mea culpa, and much of the cost would likely be returned to the US on the ‘you broke it, you bought it’ philosophy.

Of coure, since this would require admitting to mistakes before, during and after the Iraq occupation, I guess it’s not particularly realistic to think that it could happen prior to 2008. so we are pretty much consigned to 2 years of widespread destabilization of the region, as well as the demolition of Iraq, paiinted schools and all.


And then, once again in concert with the UN, we would have to go back in in a real rebuilding and stabilizing effort. Of course, there woul dbe a need for an international mea culpa, and much of the cost would likely be returned to the US on the ‘you broke it, you bought it’ philosophy.

We’re doomed. That will never happen as long as Bush is president.


Don’t focus on the atrocity du jour. While the bombings and killings are horrible for the Iraqi people, and for the U.S., in fact things are progressing nicely in Iraq for certain parties. Let’s not be coy: things are going nicely for Iran.

That is to say, things aren’t as out-of-control as they look. Once the Iranians have their puppet regime firmly in place, and the Americans are gone, the terror campaign will end or drop off significantly.

We’ve blundered into a snakepit of plotting, double-dealing and murderous ambition. In fact, our blundering entrance set the whole deranged Rube Goldberg apparatus into motion.

But that does not mean that we still control these events — if we ever really did. Nor does it mean that our leaving will have any significant impact beyond giving the primary player what it wants.

At this point, creating an Islamist, Iranian-dominated Iraq is probbly the nicest thing we can do for the Iraqis and for ourseleves. That’s not something we want, it simply illustrates the horribly limited menu of choices we have.


I always thought that to be a good idea but two problems emerge:

1) Turkey would shit themselves if the Kurds gained their own soverign nation. The fear here is Kurdistan taking revenge for the senseless killings of the Kurds by the Turks over a period of a few decades.

2) Iraq still has (or had) a huge debt to pay off after its war with Iran. Who would pay for it? The dispute over oil wells with Kuwait is partly to blame for the first Iraq war.

3) Independant Shiite and Sunni nations would be fully supported by Iran (90% Shiite) and Egypt (majority Sunni). Would both of these try to become powerful enough to try to overthrow the other??


Damn Bush logic! I said two problem emerged and I listed THREE!

Damnit… sorry about that.


Turkey would shit themselves if the Kurds gained their own soverign nation.

Well… yeah. We’re not looking for perfect options here though 🙂


Man, I’ve almost completely lost hope for any sort of mildly favorable situation to develop there.

What really sets me off, though is that this is exactly the kind of scenario me and everyone else warned dittoheads like Marie Jon about, and here it is. A broken country teetering on the brink of all out civil war, people afraid to leave their houses.

What is the current plan right now anyway? Is Bush still “staying the course”? Has anyone gotten his word on this yet?


Americans, Brits and Australians deserve to stay in Iraq forever and face the inevitable meat grinder they’ve helped create.


I’m not sure a Kurdistan is even remotely the best thing we can do, even if it is the most moral. This is how fucked we are.

The Kurds have had a nominal state since the No Fly zones were created and have, relatively, thrived. But the second they try and declare an actual state — an almost inevitable eventuality, given the state of Iraq — we’ll have a total free-for-all and thousands, if not millions of people will die. Between Kirkuk, Mosul and the longtime tensions between the Kurds and the Turks, Iranians, Syrians and the other Iraqis — it will be a bloodbath.


Pastor Maker: I think Bush, Blair, and all the other leaders responsible should stay in Iraq, not some poor grunt.


I was all for partition–ie restoring “Iraq” to the separate nations that it was before the Brits and their empire smooshed them together for their own purposes.

Like “Yugoslavia”, Iraq has always been a “fake” country, not organized around some central nationalist concept (ethnicity, religion, a Constitution, or whatever).
And once the dictatorial glue broke (thanks to American bombs!), civil war erupts. The left said this would happen, years ago.

Of course, now that we let everything degrade so badly, partition would be a difficult and futile thing. If it’s civil war regardless, perhaps we should get out of the way. Or send all the wingnuts over to clean up their mess. It does seem only right that we stay and fix it, but I think it’s impossible. Only Iraqis can do it now, and they apparently are going to have to kill thousands of each other before they’ll get down to trying.

Iraq will be America’s shame for centuries. All anyone will ever remmber is that it was once a modern nation run by a big asshole, until a little man bombed it into the Stone Age, another little man held them down for most of a decade, and then a truly reprehensible creature (Son of Little Man #1) pulled out the final stops and let all hell break loose, and then smirked about it.

The Smirk will be the America’s avatar on the message board of the world. Our name is mud, folks, and will be until we’re all long gone. Why? ‘Cuz of the attitude rightly captured by a satirical bumper sticker I saw this morning:

“Disagree with me? Well, FLAG FLAG FLAG FLAG FLAG!”

Pass the ranch dressing.



I would say that we only have the illusion of choice at this point. Any question that asks “What can we do now in Iraq?” assumes that there is actually SOME way to assert or gain control in order to achieve some kind of purpose…and THAT influence likely slipped away at some point, now past. The Iraqi system is in chaos. NO one, no entity (not insurgent, nor civilian nor coalition) is in control anymore and it would, I am sorry to say, be sheer folly to assume anything other than that the system is in “runaway” (Imagine a mega boulder coming down the mountain picking up more speed and force each second…and the townsfolk are gonna figure out how to stop it…NOT). Chaos, like the boulder, is going to stop, when it does. I believe that this is as far as strategizing can take us at this point.

Even the likes of Juan Cole are running out of ideas that can be predicted to work with any real probability. And that, is because America has only limited influence over players who, themselves, have little influence. That is the heart of the matter. Sorry to say, the only safe bet is to predict worse things to come. So, to stay or to leave Iraq? Who the Hell can say what either will mean without resorting to fantasy or misguided ethics (I mean really, we burn down someone’s house and then argue about whether WE should help clean up afterwards…it never really was our choice and now that we made one anyway, it most certainly is not in our hands, now).We ought to do what the Iraqi people want, of course. The only problem is that they are in the civil war that we are responsible for…so WHICH Iraqi faction to listen to? Hmm? In the end, economic chickens coming home to roost will make all the final decisions for the US.

Perhaps we should use our energy to determine how to approach elections, and of strategies for influencing Americans to hold the Crazies in charge responsible for this dark chapter of our shared world history.

Professor Suggestion

Drop the entire Shrub admin into Sadr Central…let the Iraqi people deal with them.


“Divide the country into three. Kurdistan, Sumeria and a Shiite central region, which presumably would promptly unify with Iran as soon as we leave.”

“The Kurds would be happy with that. The problem would be dividing the oil fields equitably between the Sunnis and Shiites.”

Happy until Turkey invades to prevent the declaration of Kurdistan…then all hell breaks loose.


Sorry folks, it’s a clusterfuck. We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

All I know is that as long as we stay there, we are the gasoline on the fire. It will be a meatgrinder whether our troops are there or not, so I say get out.


It will be a meatgrinder whether our troops are there or not, so I say get out.
I’m not sure I agree with that. I mean, America started this mess, what if they leave the region and gangs of people begin mass murdering in the streets. Should we not at least pull forces back to their bases and just stick it out there until the chance of outright genocide is a little less?
I think the sort of “over the horizon” troop support that rep.John Murtha proposed months ago is likely our best option for minimizing death.


How about sending in ‘5 Deferments’ Cheney? He’s quite the marksman, or so I hear.


i have to agree with celticgirl, but i don’ think there is any way american forces are gonna leave iraq. you know why?superbases. even(or especially) tactical idiots like rumsfeld would not leave those multi-billion-dollar bases in hostile conditions approaching civil war.

if they really cared about “the troops” or their safety or their surival, then they would have fucked off from iraq long back.


Partition is not a realistic solution either. It isn’t just dividing up the oil fields. Just for starters, who gets Baghdad? That aside, there is no way to equitably divide the resources. The Shi’a are sitting on top of nearly all of them. But the Sunnis do have the heavy weaponry, the financial backing, and the military training, and I’m sure you all can do the math on that.

There was going to be a civil war when Saddam left power, no matter what the removal method. This is why so many of us tried to talk sense into the half-witted flagwavers. All the air superiority and patriotism in the world wasn’t about to solve this one.

There are no good options. Does it seem irresponsible to just pack up and go after f*cking the place up so severely? You bet. But not nearly as irresponsible as having done it in the first place. It’s too late to find a good plan; the only good plan was not invading.


Yes, it’s a gawdawful mess, and no matter what it’s going to get worse as time passes. It’s so fucked up right now that nobody is seriously trying to rebuild/repair, only tear down each other. It’s all going to explode, whether we’re there or not, so I think we should pull out, if only to save a few bucks and soldiers’ lives. Of course, the civil war could easily spin out of control and envelop the region, which would be bad if only from the standpoint of the price of oil ($200+/barrel?), but the humanitarian aspect would and will be tragic. If we leave, are the Shi’ites going to go in for genocide and “ethnic cleansing” in regards to the Sunis? Perhaps–they outnumber them 3-1, though they have less training. That could draw in the Suni-majority nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. And, as has been mentioned, if the kurds split off, Turkey has pretty much said they will invade. Iran has made similar noises (they both havr large Kurdish minorities that they fear will succeed to join any Kurdish nation, and who they’ve treated like crap for many years). Those are just two ways this thing could spread into a regional, or even World War (think the Chinese will accept a disruption of their oil supplies? in a word, no!).


you guys are depressing me…

I have to concur that whatever we do from here on out it’s going to be a godawful mess. I think celticgirl’s opening line is a pretty accurate summary.

By the way, I think I messed up on supposed names – IIRC, Juan Cole proposed “Sumer” as the name for a Shiite region, and I’ll certainly defer to his opinion on that.

Not that it matters much.

My god, what a mess.


Maybe we could rally all the Iraqis around some royal personage and create a nice stable absolute monarchy. Must be some descendant of Hammurabi around there somewhere.


So there you go Brad.

We can’t stay.

We can’t leave.

We don’t have control over events.

We don’t have influence over the players.

The administration’s planners had no understanding of the region or the players, or the politics involved, and acted with no foresight.

The other nations in the region will interfere with any multi-lateral nation building.

We don’t have any support or even sympathy in 90% of the world.

Our government is even more clueless than they were before the war.

But we will be held responsible for the whole mess.

Kind of a real world Kobayashi Maru isn’t it? except there’s no way to cheat our way out of this one.

It is my beleif that the only thing to do is pull American forces out, at least then our military will not be subjected to the meatgrinder. It’s not honorable, if there was a chance of salvaging anything from the situation I would say we might be able to help by leaving them in there. But any good they are doing right now is outweighed by the effect of adding gasoline to the fire.

Or, you can hope that this is the time the aliens decide to invade and subjugate all of us. While that might appear to be a long shot, I think the Vegas line has it a good bit higher than Bush actually doing anything reasonable.


It’s really easy kids.
Impeach Bush and Cheney.
Commit Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz and any other dork who organised this blood soaked obscenity to a mental asylum.
Get the fuck out of there.


we should just make a deal where bush, his cabinet and every political appointee that his administration has ever put into iraq….and perhaps as a bonus, a few of bush’s biggests contributors are all traded to the iraqis to do with as they wish as long as they all kiss and make up.


alternatively, we could take the historical approach, and kill ’em all while shippin’ in our own excess population…..but then that whole issue with global “news” may become a problem…..


Withdraw completely. Pay massive reparations. Let the Iraqs sort it out and stop it with the condescending notion that these people can’t manage without outside meddling.

Perp walk Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, Wolfowitz, Feith, Rumsfeld, Libby, et al off to the Hague to stand trial for war crimes.

Quit unconditionally supporting Israel’s illegal, murderous occupation of the Palestinian territories. Quit propping up the other dictators/tyrants we back in ME.

Cut the Pentagon’s budget 80%, close our foreign bases, and quit trying to dominate the world militarily.

Oh yea, you were only looking for realistic alternatives. My bad.


“Divide the country into three. Kurdistan, Sumeria and a Shiite central region, which presumably would promptly unify with Iran as soon as we leave.”

“The Kurds would be happy with that. The problem would be dividing the oil fields equitably between the Sunnis and Shiites.”

Happy until Turkey invades to prevent the declaration of Kurdistan…then all hell breaks loose.

To hell with Turkey, Iran, and Egypt trying to gain power in these partitions, the partitions themselves would be fighting each other in a war. By making them separate countries, all you’ll do is change th wording from “civil war” to “war”.

Yes, Iraq was a fake country put together by combining a bunch of separate lands, but it’s been that way for several decades now, and most of the people who are living there have always lived in “Iraq.” They will see the entire country as their own, and will try to take power over the whole area of Iraq. Who gets the oil? Who gets the holy sites? Who gets the fertile areas?


“Iraq was a fake country put together by combining a bunch of separate lands”

No. It was put together from three provinces (vilayets) of the Ottoman Empire – Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. Kuwait was effectively independent though nominally part of Basra vilayet.


We either leave Iraq, dooming it to tragedy and civil war; or we stay, thus ensuring that our armed forces suffer the same fate. I welcome anyone who can come up with a more optimistic scenario in the comments.

I disagree, personally, with that assessment. When you have dozens of bombings over the course of 48 hours, with each side targeting the others’ holy sites, it sounds to me like the holy civil war has already started.

At this point, it’s just a matter of everyone admitting that the war between American soldiers and insurgents (or whatever we’re calling them these days) is not the only war going on in Iraq.


Our military commanders (the ones actually in Iraq) should meet w/ the tribal leaders, get a feel for whether they want us to stay or not. Total consensus- we leave. Even one group wants us to stay – we stay & help them.

For my individual part, committing to alternate energy sources. Afterall, it wasn’t “freeing” the Iraqis that brought us to their country.

I wish Frank Herbert was alive; I’d love to hear his opinion on your question.


“Iraq was a fake country put together by combining a bunch of separate lands”

No. It was put together from three provinces (vilayets) of the Ottoman Empire – Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. Kuwait was effectively independent though nominally part of Basra vilayet.

Posted by: ajay

That doesn’t change my point.


> I’m lookin’ for realisitc alternatives here, peeps.

As long as the current administration is in power, there are no good realistic alternatives. Even if someone sane came up with a good alternative, they’d be in no position to implement it. Until there’s a change of who’s in power, the best we can hope for is to put a drag on this administration to keep them from causing even more harm (say by invading Iran).

–Rick Taylor



God will not punish us for partitioning Iraq but will certainly punish us for allowing so many Iraqis to die. – Sheik Ahmed al-Lami
The current problems in Iraq can be traced to British meddling in the area after WWI. The area now called Iraq was composed of the three Ottoman vilayets of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. Great Britain, still an active colonial power, conducted a nation-building experiment by piecing these three administrative regions together without the support of the Iraqi population and the patch-quilt result was modern Iraq. The purpose was to establish a puppet government to extend British influence in the region and exploit the vast oil reserves. The British installed a Sunni led monarchy and Shiites, Kurds and other groups immediately started rebelling. For almost ninety years the unstable mix of peoples in Iraq was held together by force and terror on the part of the governing entity. With the removal of Hussein from power, Iraq is inexorably splitting apart into warring factions. Why not encourage this cultural and religious division of the country so that it unfolds in an orderly fashion?
The chief discord is between Shiite and Sunni Arabs (The Kurds consider themselves a separate people and desire an independent Kurdistan). The resolution lies in allowing the Iraqis to re-divide their country into regions simulating the loose confederation of the Ottoman vilayets. The recreation of the three vilayets certainly doesn’t envision mutually exclusive ethnically cleansed areas but the re-establishment of equilibrium among the main groups so none feel threatened; much like the glory days of Baghdad. Older Iraqis can recall a peaceful multiethnic city, once a jewel of the Middle East, in which Muslims, Christians and Jews lived in harmony. Many “Baghdads� of this sort are envisioned. The most critical consideration for success of the plan is the establishment of a viable economic base in the traditional Sunni region. This is contingent on the exploitation of the huge untapped oil reserves in western Iraq and oil revenue support from the other regions in the interim. The Sunnis have lost their privileged economic position and political control they enjoyed under Hussein and have a consummate fear of not receiving a fair share of Iraq’s wealth. Understandably, most of the insurrectionists are Sunnis.
Extreme elements in the Sunni community have been seduced by the nihilist notion that fomenting sectarian strife and civil war will improve their position. Sunni extremists are encouraged and supported in this self-destructive behavior by Al Qaeda and other imported and native terrorist groups who intend to take over Iraq after creating anarchy. The U.S. backed elections (which everyone knew would give the Shiites majority control) highlighted the deep divisions in Iraqi society and fueled the Sunnis’ desperation and the sectarian violence that followed. After more than eighty years of frequently ill treatment by the Sunnis, it was incredibly naïve to expect the Shiites to be magnanimous and share power equally with the minority Sunnis. The insurrection has made it painfully obvious that many Sunnis will never accept minority status, which is their fate in a “unified� Iraq. Sunnis are convinced the Shiite dominated government is shielding Shiite militia death squads and starving Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad of reconstruction funds, making cooperation next to impossible. The Baghdad government, instead of integrating the three main groups, is obviously having the opposite effect.

The Kurds and the Sunni Arabs are usually aligned in the Baghdad government to counter growing Shiite dominance. However, Shiites and Kurds are approaching an accommodation in which the Shiites concede control of Kirkuk to the Kurds and the Kurds support Shiite independence in the south. The Sunnis see themselves left out of the equation and need reassurance. The Shiites and Kurds could agree to support a semi-autonomous region for the Sunnis along with participating in oil revenue sharing until the fields in al-Anbar province are developed. The Shiites and Kurds would be wise to accept that responsibility since all are suffering in this current chaos.

Ideally, the three groups could each choose leaders and convene constitutional conventions and form democratic regional governments under the auspices of the United Nations. Realistically, we will see a return to authoritarian rule; perhaps with progressive aspects eventually evolving into democracy. For now, having three separate entities would encourage each group to succeed on its own terms rather than continue inter-group fighting. Physical separation itself would eliminate a great deal of the ongoing bloodletting. The borders between the regions and the external borders with Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria would have to be protected through a plan devised with international input and cooperation. Maintaining order and border integrity would involve long-term U.N. presence.

The Kurds have long shown an obvious desire for a divided Iraq and have recently demonstrated their autonomy by unifying their government in the north and exporting oil independently. The Kurds realize that this is probably their last chance for a homeland and are working diligently to achieve their goal. Major stumbling blocks are the same things plaguing the rest of Iraq: out-of-control militias, greed and corruption and the stifling of political dissent. Reforming and integrating the Kurdish militias into a single police force which respects the rights of minorities, dealing fairly with Turkoman, Arab and Assyrian-Chaldean communities displaced by returning Kurds and equitably sharing the benefits of the newfound oil wealth among all residents are now the keys for Kurdish statehood. The Kurds have long been our friends and we owe them our support in their age-old quest for independence if they demonstrate efficacy in building a just society. This support entails warning Turkey and Iran about the consequences of invading Kurdistan and helping the Kurds secure their borders; possibly, with our troops.

In spite of the chaos in Iraq and the suspiciously sophisticated and effective sabotage of oil production, there is still a great deal of international interest in Iraq’s oil. The Chinese and the Baghdad government are rekindling a $1.2 billion deal to develop the al-Ahdab oil field in the southeast. Al-Anbar province in the predominately Sunni western desert contains the richest untapped oil fields in Iraq and is under intense scrutiny by Big Oil. The question is whether the Iraqis can achieve development without further exploitation by the petrochemical cartels. A policy committee has hammered out a draft oil law for Iraq with input from consultants at BearingPoint, hired by the Bush administration. This Cabinet proposal has so far been rejected by the Parliament and should be fully and publicly debated within and outside Iraq to protect the interests of the Iraqi people. Oil industry analysts and Iraqi Oil Ministry officials predict that the eventual big winners in Iraq will be the Big Four (the American firms Exxon-Mobile and Chevron-Texaco, and the British BP-Amoco and Royal Dutch-Shell) that dominate the world oil market; along with the major U.S. companies acquiring the majority of the oil contracts. Most of the Middle East feels our presence in Iraq is about establishing U.S. hegemony and securing Iraq’s resources for Big Oil.

In an enlightening article in the Los Angeles Times (Sunday, August 27, 2006, Page M5) Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution described an option of “facilitating voluntary ethnic relocation while maintaining a confederal governing structure.� This would allow individuals and their families the “chance to move to an Iraq territory more hospitable to their ethnicity and/or religion.� O’Hanlon goes on to explain that this process would need the support of the Iraqi and American governments and the three ethnic groups and would involve: “Confederacy, along with safe passage, property swapping, job-creation programs and oil revenue sharing.� These constructive ideas would enable cooperation whether the end result was a confederation of three separate regions or three independent states. Probably the best case scenario would be an Iraq composed of a confederation of Arab Sunni and Shiite semi-autonomous regions and an independent Kurdistan for the Kurds.

When re-dividing or partitioning Iraq is mentioned, often it is said that it “will lead to civil war.� Of course, that argument is laughable because civil war began when we disbanded Hussein’s army and government. In the ensuing confusion, Al Qaeda and terrorism made their entrance, bolstering the insurrection and compounding the violence. In addition, sectarian hate-fueled anarchy began in earnest in February of last year after the Golden Mosque in Samarra was destroyed; with the Shiites blaming the Sunnis.

Division will work precisely because three separate regions or vilayets peaceably coexisted as part of the Ottoman Empire, according to Professor John G. Stoessinger, Ph.D. (Harvard), author of the classic work, Why Nations Go to War. The Ottoman rulers wisely did not try to impose strict control and the Sunni-Shiite dichotomy never became an issue because neither group exerted dominance. That changed after WW I when the League of Nations issued a mandate in April of 1920 empowering Great Britain to govern an Iraq cobbled together from the three Ottoman vilayets. In 1921 Iraq was pronounced a kingdom and Faysal I was placed as king. Iraq became a constitutional monarchy and also had a two house parliament (with the important ministries controlled by British advisors). As leader of the British-installed Sunni power structure, Faysal I battled with rebellious Shiites, Kurds and Assyrian Christians from the outset. The Bush Administration is trying to re-cobble Iraq together; this time under Shiite rule. It’s famously not working.

The bottom line is that we have to present and encourage a solution that reflects the cultural reality of Iraq. The Wilsonian idea of promoting freedom and democracy around the world, which Bush has adopted as a fallback position, has backfired in Iraq. The elections actually decreased the chances for democracy by exacerbating ancient sectarian differences and hatreds. Our efforts in Iraq are doing nothing but adding fuel to the fire of insurrection and civil war. Recently, our soldiers have been given the impossible task of separating battling groups of Shiites and Sunnis, which further detracts from our hapless efforts in quelling the insurrection. The ever increasing sectarian violence has changed the situation from horrible to unbearable, with total anarchy an imminent possibility. Common sense tells us that the greatest chance for a lasting peace will be when the primary groups achieve their own space, relief from violence and viable economies.

Is this the best approach? Or is there another, better one? Ask the Iraqis! We haven’t done that because three separate regions would be seen as a failure by the Bush Administration in its nation building experiment. (Maybe John Zogby needs to go back to Iraq to take a poll on the subject of partitioning.) The war is dragging on in a desperate attempt by the Bush Administration to save face and secure oil contracts for its sponsors. We have yet to learn the lesson that democracy cannot be forced upon a people by a foreign power. Have we liberated the Iraqi people or opened Pandora’s Box as an occupier? The fact that 78% of Iraqis want a timetable for our withdrawal gives a pretty clear indication of the Iraqis’ view.

There is growing support in Congress for a three region solution. Senator Joe Biden is championing the idea, and Republican Senators Sam Brownback and Richard Lugar are warming to it. If additional, prominent anti-Iraq-war Republicans, such as Sen. Chuck Hagel and Rep. Ron Paul, reached out to Biden and his fellow Democrats and to the Iraqi people it would indicate an enlightened course of action. Senator Brownback has recently approached Senator Biden to unite both parties in achieving a solution In Iraq.

-Richard Parr

P.O. Box 3703
Santa Monica, CA 90408

Ph. 310-394-0088
Fax 310-394-6313


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