Monday, April 23, 2007

Iraq and the control freak

Interesting news from New York Times. As U.S. and Iraqi forces were putting a dividing wall between Shiites and Sunnis in Baghdad's Adhamiya neighborhood, members of both factions came to the streets to protest. Over one thousand according to the article.

Some Sunnis came to praise Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite, in unified opposition to the wall. The action is pretty amazing, given that the Sunnis generally consider al-Maliki an oppressor of their group.

The whole idea that a wall will keep the peace between different groups is flawed. If we are fighting for a unified Iraq, is this not anathema to that cause? If the only thing keeping the peace is a wall, sectioning off areas in the city, then that would be the ultimate failure for democracy.

President Bush says that the U.S. must stay until the job is done, but the effectiveness of that is based on a lot of assumptions: the Iraqis want us there, and that our presence is doing some sort of good.

U.S. war planners invaded, took control of Iraq, and leaned heavily on the government to form a particular type. As basic needs weren't met (water, electricity) and the economy hit the fan, the Iraqi's likely thought it better to radicalize than try to work with the Americans. Is this a surprise?

From day one, the Iraqis have felt the humiliation of being occupied. We are no longer a neutral player in this. Sunni's see the U.S. as favoring Shiites, and they engage in "sectarian struggle" along with the "radical" Sadrists who oppose the occupation.

The U.S. might have been able to do a great deal of "good," but failed leadership from the highest levels has insisted that it knows what is right by dispersing various seasoned Iraqi political figures at the fall of Saddam's statue. The neoliberal economics shocked the Iraqi system; not enough infrastructure (schools, water utility) was available for the function of any political-economic system.

That a perpetual U.S. presence there is positive is single-minded. If we set a timetable, Bush says we'd "embolden our enemies." Does staying there and throwing salt in the country's wounds help?

Some would say I don't support the troops. Why? Because I don't think they should be cannon fodder for a war that I don't believe in?

Troops who have served in Iraq come back sincere that they were trying to do the best they could to help Iraqis work towards a better life. But the best efforts of many good men and women does not ensure "victory" when the realities on the ground were exacerbated by failed leadership in the first place.

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