Monday, November 29, 2004

Civil War for a Brighter Tommorow

One of the nice things about neo-conservative columnists is that they are so gosh darn optimistic. Iraq DOES have WMDs, we WILL shock and awe them, mission HAS been accomplished, freedom and democracy IS on the march. Because of that admirable trait, its usually safe to assume that things are at least one degree worse than whatever talking point they are parroting at the moment.

So what am I supposed to gather from Charles Krauthammer's column that encourages the US to just let a civil war happen? (tipoff: Iraq'd)
"This is the Shiites' and Kurds' fight. Yet when police stations are ravaged by Sunni Arab insurgents in Mosul, U.S. soldiers are rushed in to fight them. The obvious question is: Why don't we unleash the fierce and well-trained Kurdish pesh merga militias on them? (Mosul is heavily Kurdish and suffered a terrible Kurdish expulsion under Hussein.)

Yes, some of the Iraqi police/National Guard units fighting with our troops are largely Kurdish. But they, like the Shiites, fight in an avowedly nonsectarian Iraqi force. Why? Because we want to maintain this idea of a unified, non-ethnic Iraq. At some point, however, we must decide whether that is possible, and how many American lives should be sacrificed in its name?"

Krauthammer argues that there already IS a civil war, and the US needs to recognize that and get out of the way. That's a viable option, but Krauthammer needs to recognize that it essentially means conceding defeat, because to allow Iraq to go from de facto to de jure civil war will mean the death of Iraq as a sustainable political unit. Krauthammer isn't willing to see this, instead drawing the parallel to the end of the Civil War, when a few ex-confederate states still hadn't fully been reincorporated into the union. But the situations aren't remotely comparable. In 1868 the Union had won a clear and decisive victory over the South, utterly destroying both the means and will for the Confederacy to wage a war. The remaining "insurgents," if you will, were scattered and clearly in an all-out retreat. In Iraq, by contrast, there has been no clear cut victory over the insurgency (which is a very distinguishable entity from Saddam's smashed Baathist government), and the revolt is growing, not shrinking. Krauthammer still seems stuck in thinking that the insurgency is composed of a few Baathist "dead-enders," and that just isn't the case anymore. Until we break out of that mindset and realize that this insurgency is a true and grave threat to Iraq's future stability (not to mention its democratic prospects), we'll never have a prayer of defeating it.

1 comment:

N.S.T said...

Schraub, I like the fact that you aren't like some pundits(yes, you qualify, you're as good as anyone else) who only read the stuff from one side, even if you disagree with it, you consider the opinions of everyone on the political spectrum. Krauthammer is, what a big surprise here, one of my favorite columnists, though I find his interests in Vietnam and World War II a bit tedious at times. Anyway, I think that we would all do good to have a little optimism about the course of American foreign policy, and that life is inherently filled with hypocracies and things that one goes back on. The fact of the matter is that that hindsight is 20/20, and it is very easier to make fun of neo-cons for being optimistic about foreign affairs at a particualr moment in time when you have hindsight to back you up. In the end, it's little use worrying about who to blame for intelligence lapses that led to 9/11, or what cost the Democrats the election, or any other number of things. The important things is that we get it right in the future(though, I guess I wouldn't mind if the Democrats destroyed their party bickering, but this is beside the point).