Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Measure of Success - New York Times

The Measure of Success - New York Times

Friedman hits on the point I've made for some time: that our adventure in Iraq is a big gamble... a gamble that the Iraqis will decide to make a stable government that protects the rights of all its citizens. But to accomplish that, you have to first have a sense of the Iraqi citizen... This is where the Bush doctrine completely ignores reality: Iraq is composed of 3 distint groups -- with the Shia currently taking revenge on the Sunni as much as the Sunni trying to blow-up there way back to power.


President Bush talks about Iraq as if it were a given that there is a single Iraqi aspiration for exactly the kind of pluralistic democracy America would like to see built in Iraq, and that the only variable is whether we stay long enough to see it through. I wish that were so - our job would be easy. But it is not so. It still is not clear what is the will of the Iraqi people.

And that's the problem... We can stay for 2 years or 10, but if the Iraqi's are intent on continuing tribal warfare, we are simply not going to stop them.

We've made some progress, but the final direction Iraq will take will be set by Iraqis. Friedman again:

It is terrific that Iraqis just had another free and fair election and that some 11 million people voted. Americans should be proud that we helped to bring that about in a region that has so rarely experienced any sort of democratic politics.

But what's still unclear is this: Who and what were Iraqis voting for? Were they voting for Kurdish sectarian leaders, who they hope will gradually split Kurdistan off from Iraq? Were they voting for pro-Iranian Shiite clerics, who they hope will carve out a Shiite theocratic zone between Basra and Baghdad? Were they voting for Sunni tribal leaders, who they hope will restore the Sunnis to their "rightful" place - ruling everyone else? Or, were they voting for a unified Iraq and for politicians whom they expect to compromise and rewrite the Constitution into a broadly accepted national compact?

I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt the Iraqis were voting for that last item... They were voting their religious and tribal interests.

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