As cynical as I have become about the Bush administration and the war in Iraq, there are certain milestones in the development of a new nation that make you stop and question for a second if it may have all been worth it. The first moment like that for me with Iraq was when they held their first elections.

Sure, it was flawed. The Sunnis weren’t involved, limiting the legitimacy. But that couldn’t stop the fact that TVs all over the world were broadcasting images of brave people who had defied terrorist threats jubilantly inking their fingers and stuffing ballot boxes. There was no doubt that was a good thing.

The new constitution was supposed to be another one of those moments. A demonstration that the various ethnic and religious factions in Iraq could bring hope to the populace by getting together and agreeing on how they would define themselves and their country.

But that didn’t happen.

The first delay was a week. The reason: we lost time due to a sandstorm. The reality: they had no agreement.

As far as I can tell from the various news outlets, the Shiites and the Kurds get together, talk about what they agree on, compromise a little on what they don’t, then take their joint proposal to the Sunnis and say, “Here it is.”

Okay, no doubt that’s not a very inclusive process, but it’s still a process. Coalition governments like Israel, Italy, and France do it all the time. When you ain’t got no power, you can’t expect to have the same sized seat at the table as everyone else, and to be sure, the Sunnis screwed themselves and their country by not participating in the initial elections.

The point is, though it may be flawed, there IS a negotiation process. Everyone gets to get their point out there. The Shiites and Kurds know that they have the votes to push through whatever they want, and after decades of oppression I don’t blame them for not being more sensitive to their oppressors.

Still, at the end of the day, everyone is living in the same country. So SOME kind of compromise has to be reached. If not, the country breaks up and that’s even worse for the Sunnis than if they accepted a role of reduced importance in a federal structure.

But that overall goal, keeping the country together, seems to be taking a back seat to stubbornness.

If the Shiites and the Kurds want federalism than there will be federalism. It’s a simple as that. But the Sunnis are balking, and tanking the hopes for a peaceful coexistence for years to come.

Here’s what I predict:

The Sunnis will not support the new constitution. The insurgency will continue. The US will train as many Iraqis as fast as they can so they can get the hell out of Dodge in two or three years. When they leave, all those US trained troops will fight each other in a civil war which will further degrade the infrastructure in Iraq and ensure it remains poor (and therefore far more religious/extremist) for a long long time. Syria will aid the Sunnis. Iran will aid the Shiites. And the Shiites will win. The Kurds will try to stay out of it saying “Hey, we just want this little piece in the north.”

Crystal ball says: instability in Iraq for years to come.

Thank you Mr. Bush. You truly made the world safer by taking all those weapons of mass destruction out of play and fighting the terrortists on their own soil.

Well, it’s their soil now. Thanks to us.

Where to next?

Categories: Ramblings


Jim · August 26, 2005 at 11:03 am

Gimme a break! Would you even pretend to suggest it is the fault of the US that the cradle of civilization is unstable?! These f’ing retards have been killing each other for eons. If we (the US) have done anything, we have stemmed the tide of islamic blood a bit for what will probably amount to a decade or so. F these people, they are acting like animals and deserve the barren soil they continue to fight each other for.

mark · August 26, 2005 at 3:31 pm

When you claim that middle eastern culture consists of “a bunch of f’ing retards which have been killing each other for eons”… I can’t help but sense a slight bit of superiority for your own western culture. Pretty ridiculous in any number of ways.

Also, I’m not sure how just saying “F these people, they are acting like animals and deserve the barren soil they continue to fight each other for,” can translate to you wanting to actually complete the mission assigned to you in Iraq (as you eloquently pointed out in an earlier comment).

Jim · August 27, 2005 at 11:07 am

I came here to perform my duty. As a broad generalization, these people have not earned any of MY respect. I have done my part to support the effort to stabilize country by giving it an infrastructure. The people of Iraq should be better for it. (Only time will tell on that point.)

I don’t know how much you have interacted with Iraqis, especially the non-sheik-related types. (Broad generalization to follow) They are lazy, greedy, and genuinely disinterested in everything that doesn’t affect their day-to-day life (food, money, and how the US can be bilked out of the same).

Bottom line – I despise the people of Iraq. But that has no impact on whether I do my duty as a soldier.

Brian · August 28, 2005 at 2:25 am

First of all, I’d like to thank my friend Jim for weighing in and adding his perspective. As someone right there in the middle of it, you have to respect his proximity to the issue.

Point of clarification: I am not blaming the Bush administration for making the middle east unstable.

I blame them for making it MORE unstable.

And for misleading the American people about the reason that we needed to spend over 300 billion dollars and sacrifice the lives of our soldiers for.

I appreciate the fact that Jim does his duty, regardless of his personal feelings about the Iraqis, or even his own feelings about his orders. He’s a soldier, and he’s doing his duty. Simple as that. Come back safe and soon Jim.

As a civilian I get the luxury, and the obligation, to question the government and its actions. Doing otherwise would be un-patriotic, and a dishonor to the hundreds of thousands who died to provide that freedom.

(Yes, the “honor the dead” argument is being used, but I stand by my use of it here since it’s not being used a circular argument to justify an action with no other justification.)

My point is that the government’s actions in Iraq were taken on the premise of making the country safer, and fighting terrorism. Both of which were false premises.

Iraq did not pose the danger Bush said it did. Iraq did not have the weapons that Bush said it had. And there were no operational terrorist groups active in Iraq until we went in.

Our actions in Iraq caused the deaths of over 10,000 Iraqis and 1,800 (so far) US soldiers.

What did they die for Jim?

As a soldier, you may answer: “They died doing their duty.” And that is true. And heartbraking.

My post about the Iraqi constitution was intended to illustrate that in terms of the overall mission (reducing threats to the US from rogue countries with WMD, and fighting terrorism), the Iraq war is a failure.

Changing the rationale behind why we did what we did, and trying to manipulate people into going along by bringing up the spectre of dead troops who died because of an action that was proven to be illegitimate (in that both premises for war were false), is disgusting and reprehensible.

If anyone reading this can look themselves in the mirror and say that they still believe that we needed to invade Iraq because of the imminent threat it posed to US national security, or because we needed to eliminate the terrorist organizations in Iraq, then I truly feel sorry for you.

Brian · August 29, 2005 at 9:54 am

Looks like the first of my predictions has come true.

I have no real hope for a unified and peaceful Iraq. I just don’t think it’s in the cards.

If the constitution is defeated in the referendum in October (unlikely), then there MAY be a second chance. But I put the odds on this at four to one.

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