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?