It took Paul Bremer less than ten minutes to dissolve the Coalition Provisional Authority but it will take years, if not decades, for the Iraqi government to restore the messy legacy the Americans leave behind. The success of this new government hinges on its ability to convince skeptical Iraqis that they are nationalist caretakers of Iraq and not merely puppets controlled by Washington.
Farnaz Fassihi’s book, which I am still reading, in part recounts the American abuse of Iraqi civilians in the wake of Operation Iraqi Freedom and well describes the consequences of that abuse.
While one may note also the ensuing chaos in the Iraqi-generated vendetta, sectarian assaults, and insurgent terror that provoked enormous IDP and refugee numbers while pumping casualty rates through the roof, the shadow looms large as regards American military incompetence related to “managing the peace” or the post-war transition overall.
When all goes well, people don’t give that normalcy a second thought.
Detain and torture the innocent (at any rate per capita): those stories mix with the war stories of a generation to become part of the national lore.
Having finally been extricated after nine years of trying to fix Iraq’s dysfunctional political culture, re-engaging in response to recent advances by Sunni extremists would be a mistake.
In a section titled, “We shouldn’t be taking sides in a religious war,” Loren Thompson notes, “The fundamental divide in Iraq that makes it ungovernable by anybody other than dictators is the split between the Sunnis and the Shiites, the two major sects within Islam.”
While I find much else in Loren’s article appeasing, disagreeable, and patronizing (on the political left), the hint that involvement in Iraq’s issues would engage in a deeply anachronistic and unreasoning cultural animosity tells a hard truth: The two deeply aggrieved camps have not been made to discover their common humanity.
The dreaded phantoms of the west, including Israel, made fearful by the propaganda of malignantly narcissistic leaders and spoilers all over the middle east cannot help them.
ISIS, as an infection pushing before it all potential victims of its ravenous appetites while subduing with fear all left to deal with it, may work that magic on the body politic, Sunni as well as Shiite.
We shall see.
After taking the weekend to ruminate on the suboptimal options available to him for dealing with the rapidly escalating crisis in Iraq and acting on none of them, the president awoke on Monday to his former acting CIA Director Mike Morell telling CBS’s This Morning hosts that the ISIS insurgency in Iraq poses an immediate threat to American national security.
FTAC – from correspondence immediately after posting this blog: “https://conflict-backchannels.com/2014/06/17/iraq-go-no-go/ Perhaps people have to sort themselves out, do they not? Resentment of the foreigner plus the foreigner’s inept qualities may have isolated Iraq. If anything like a national government wants its uniforms back, it’s going to have to get them itself.”
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