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Bush Wars
See other Bush Wars Articles

Title: Something Is Rotten in the State of Iraq
Source: National Interest
URL Source: http://nationalinterest.org/article ... ing-rotten-the-state-iraq-5743
Published: Oct 14, 2011
Author: Kenneth M. Pollack
Post Date: 2011-10-14 14:12:51 by Brian S
Keywords: None
Views: 1175
Comments: 3

WHEN I think of Iraq, I think of fire. First there is the obvious. With summer, the country becomes an inferno. The heat muscles its way past doors and windows, scoffs at fans, overpowers air conditioners and beats everyone senseless.

Then there is the fire inside. Most Iraqis seem sleepy on first impression. They amble around sluggishly, leaden from the heat. But just mention politics, and suddenly they come to life. For Iraqis, politics is a blood sport played in a white-hot furnace. There are no half-held opinions. Every opponent is a lethal conspirator. Every conspiracy, a lethal threat. Every threat must be met with total force.

The civil war that engulfed Iraq in 2005–2006 was born mostly from a set of horrific circumstances created by an almost inconceivable parade of American mistakes. But Iraqi passions fueled the bloodletting. Indeed, part of the American success in quelling that conflict two years later came from reining in those passions.

Today, the fire of civil war has been rekindled. It is a small flame so far, just nibbling at the edges of the fabric of Iraq. It could be put out, probably quite easily. But the United States is withdrawing, and Iraq’s leaders sit in the middle of the rug, plotting, arguing, fixated on finding a way to knife one another in the back. No one is making a move to douse the flame. Instead, they blame one another and refuse to lift a finger to stop its slow, steady spread—even though all of them will be consumed if no one stops it.

TO KNOW where Iraq may be headed, it’s important to understand how the country got where it is. Again, let’s start with the obvious. In 2003 the United States invaded Iraq, toppled the totalitarian dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and put nothing in its place. In so doing, Washington created a failed state and a security vacuum. This quickly spawned widespread organized and unorganized crime, terrorism and an insurgency among the Sunni tribes of western Iraq who felt threatened by the ham-fisted American efforts to create a Shia-Kurd-dominated government.

Indeed, the creation of a power vacuum in Iraq did what it often does and has done in places like the former Yugoslavia, Congo, Lebanon and Afghanistan: it enabled various criminals, sociopaths and opportunists to lash out at their rivals and use preexisting (even long-dormant) differences to mobilize support and employ violence. This in turn prompted other groups to take up arms to defend themselves, setting off a fear-based spiral of attacks and reprisals that pushed the country into all-out civil war.

In 2006–2007, just in the nick of time, the United States recognized its principal mistake and sought to remedy it. Washington deployed thirty thousand additional troops to Iraq and, of far greater importance, adopted a counterinsurgency strategy—or more properly, a low-intensity conflict strategy, since the problems of Iraq were much more those of an intercommunal civil war than of a pure insurgency. This shift focused American and Iraqi forces on protecting the populace, disarming the militias and enforcing cease-fires among the various warring groups. Troops scaled back their attempts to kill bad guys and ramped up their efforts to protect good guys. As part and parcel of that strategy, the United States reached out to Sunni tribal sheikhs who had themselves grown disenchanted with al-Qaeda’s fanatical rule, and together the two sides drove the terrorist groups from their havens in western Iraq.

In effect, this approach, often referred to by the shorthand nickname of the “surge,” filled Iraq’s security vacuum, reversing all of the pernicious trends that had pushed the country into civil war in the first place. And that altered the incentive structure of Iraq’s political leaders, eliminating their ability to rely on violence to achieve their goals. It also reversed their relationship with the Iraqi people. While the security vacuum prevailed, average Iraqis were dependent on the warlords, insurgent leaders, organized-crime bosses and militia commanders who dominated politics because only they could provide security and access to basic necessities like food, water, electricity and medical supplies. As a result, the people needed the warlords who in turn could do as they pleased, confident that the masses would be forced to vote for them in the sham elections—and generally do their bidding. Once the United States changed its strategy, the power of the militias and the insurgents was sundered. They could no longer control the people, and the people did not have to rely on them for protection. Instead, they could turn to the Americans and to Iraq’s own rebuilt security forces.

The impact was both dramatic and profound. It produced the rapid suppression of Iraq’s civil war and the equally sudden emergence of real democratic politics. As I wrote in the pages of this journal in the fall of 2009, once the people of Iraq were not dependent on the warlords, they were able to vote based on their hopes, not their fears. It was amazing to watch how quickly this took hold.

The result was provincial elections in early 2009 that crippled the militia-based parties and rewarded nationalists, technocrats and secularists. The primary beneficiary was Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who was then seen by a wide swath of Iraqis as a truly national figure. Al-Maliki had risen to the occasion provided by the surge and smashed the worst of the militias, particularly in March 2008 when he ordered Operation Charge of the Knights, which drove the Sadrist Jaish al-Mahdi militia from Basra. Across the board, the forces of anarchy were routed, disgraced and marginalized. Moreover, with the fear of violence gone, the people demonstrated that they could and would redistribute power through elections. That was a rude awakening for many of Iraq’s political leaders, who had taken for granted their control of the people through violence. They were now forced to scramble to learn how to play and win at democratic politics. The militias became political parties and, for the first time ever, they had to figure out how to deliver goods and services to the people—their constituents—rather than simply figuring out how to take as much as they could by force or graft.

This trend culminated in the March 2010 national elections, in which Iraqis voted overwhelmingly for the two parties/coalitions they saw as the most nationalist and secular and the least sectarian and beholden to the old militias: former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiya and al-Maliki’s State of Law. Although Iraqiya was largely Sunni and State of Law largely Shia, to average Iraqis they represented progressive, secular politics focused on rebuilding the country’s government and economy. Of equal importance, they were free of the taint of the militias and the civil war. Between them, they captured 180 of the 325 seats in the Iraqi parliament, reflecting a tremendous victory for democracy. That’s when the problems began to reemerge.

THE ELECTION handed Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiya coalition a narrow 91–89 vote victory over al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition. Al-Maliki was stunned. His advisers had assured him that he would win and win big, just as he had in the 2009 provincial elections. Despite clean bills of health from the UN and various watchdog groups, al-Maliki and his camp insisted that the vote had been rigged—by someone, maybe even the Americans (which was most ridiculous of all since a great many senior U.S. officials were actually hoping he would win).

Al-Maliki was not about to go gently into that good night, and Iraq’s murky constitution furnished a path. The constitution does not specify whether the party that won the most votes gets the first chance to form a government, although this is common practice in most (but not all) parliamentary systems. So al-Maliki demanded that Iraq’s high court make a ruling. The country’s chief justice, Medhat al-Mahmoud, eventually issued a weak opinion that helped no one and nothing, least of all Iraq’s long-term democratic development. He argued the constitution was consistent with the idea that the party that received the most votes had first dibs on forming a government, but it was also consistent with the notion that this honor could go to whichever group was able to informally put together a governing coalition after the election. This exceptionally ineffective ruling has not only paralyzed Iraqi politics today but also set a horrendous precedent for future elections.

Then it was Washington’s turn to screw up—again. At that moment, probably the best thing that the United States could have done would have been to set the chief justice’s ambiguous ruling aside and, in concert with the UN, announce that what was best for Iraqi democracy in the long term was to allow the party that received the most votes in the election to have the first chance to form a government. If that party failed within the thirty days allotted by the constitution, the party with the next-largest number of votes would get its chance. Thus, Iraqiya would have been first up to bat, and had it failed (as al-Maliki’s people insisted it would), then State of Law would have had its go. Instead, the United States and the UN took no official position and threw Iraq into political chaos.

The election produced four major blocs in the parliament—the Kurds with fifty-three seats, the Sadrists with roughly forty seats, Iraqiya and State of Law. It meant that only Iraqiya and State of Law together could pass the 163 seats needed to form a governing coalition. Otherwise, each needed both the Kurds and the Sadrists and a few independents as well. Early on, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad wanted to try to hammer out a compromise between Iraqiya and State of Law for a majoritarian government. This would have excluded the dangerous Sadrists, while the Kurds inevitably would have joined simply to avoid being left out. But al-Maliki and Allawi could not agree on which of them would become prime minister, and the United States was unwilling to take a position and try to impose it upon them. The embassy then floated the idea of having Allawi become president—with expanded powers—while al-Maliki remained prime minister. But this meant that Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani would have to step down from that post, something that he was loath to do, and Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, eventually decided to back him.

With the Americans unwilling to break the political logjam, the Iraqis were left to their own devices. That made the Sadrists and the Kurds kingmakers, and both set out to extract the most they could from the larger parties before committing. To make matters worse, the new Obama administration placed excessive emphasis on having a fully “inclusive” government, which eliminated a number of possible combinations that might have produced a more effective coalition—and done so sooner. For nearly a year, Iraqi politics came to a complete halt. All of the provisions in the constitution regarding the timetables for forming a new government were ignored. It set a terrible precedent, undermining the nascent effort to foster rule of law. It derailed the momentum of Iraqi democracy. And it established a dangerous standard: that what matters most is not how the people vote but rather how the parties politick afterward.

Predictably, the result has not been pretty. Ultimately, al-Maliki did win. Under pressure from, and with the support of, Iran (which he mostly fears and dislikes), al-Maliki reluctantly cut a deal with the Sadrists (whom he detests). With that advantage, the prime minister then sat down with Barzani and agreed to many of the Kurdish leader’s key terms, at which point he had the votes to form a government. But both the Americans and Barzani wanted the mostly Sunni Iraqiya coalition in the government too—Washington to preserve the impression of inclusivity; the Kurds as an internal counterweight to State of Law and the Sadrists, both overwhelmingly Shia parties.

In November 2010 they agreed to a new government with al-Maliki as prime minister and Allawi as the chairman of a new, ill-defined council on strategic policy that has become another source of infighting. The following month the ministries were divvied up and the government seated, mostly. There were no ministers of defense and interior since Allawi and al-Maliki could not agree on who would run those crucial portfolios. It was a sign of things to come. This de facto national-unity government simply took all of Iraq’s political differences and brought them into the government itself, paralyzing the cabinet and much of the bureaucracy.

The reason that Iraqi politics fell apart so quickly is that few Iraqi leaders have internalized the patterns of behavior conducive to democracy, and Iraq lacks the kind of strong institutions that would compel them to behave properly without that internal moral compass. The reason they behaved well during 2008–2009 was that the combination of the new security created by the surge and the greater American involvement in Iraqi politics had imposed a new, external incentive structure on Iraq’s politicians—in effect, forcing them to act like good democratic leaders. Once that pressure began to be removed in 2010, so too did these externally imposed incentives. Not enough time has passed since the ouster of Saddam Hussein for a fundamental change in the psyches of Baghdad’s political elite—let alone the emergence of large numbers of new, better politicians. Not surprisingly, Iraq’s many bad leaders are going right back to behaving badly.

What’s more, without that external American pressure, Iraq’s top politicians have largely abandoned their willingness to make difficult compromises—on anything from the country’s hydrocarbon revenues to the conduct of its security services to the very nature of Iraqi federalism—to enable broader progress. The result has been political paralysis. There is no movement toward overall reconciliation, but there is equally little action to address day-to-day governance or even pressing policy needs. All of the parties are hewing to the terrible Middle Eastern dictum, “When I am weak, how can I negotiate; and when I am strong, why should I?” Those with leverage are trying to dictate policy, and those without are doggedly clinging to their positions in the hope that something will happen to empower them again.

Of greatest concern, this breakdown in Iraq’s democratic political process has begun to reengage the dynamics that drove the country to civil war in the first place. All of the mistrust, fear and desire for revenge that fueled the conflict remain—Sunni vs. Shia, Arab vs. Kurd, secular vs. religious—and the factions are beginning to cave in to their own extreme chauvinists. Naturally, some, perhaps many, of those extremist groups have begun to resort to violence to try to break the political logjam in their favor, causing others to worry that this is the wave of the future and to consider rearming as well. It is the most dangerous pattern for Iraq. The kind of behavior that, if it is allowed to fester, could drive the country right back into civil war.

ALI FAISAL al-Lami represented everything wrong with Iraqi politics. He was a vindictive, partisan hack—a Shia in this case, but just as bad as various Sunnis, Kurds and Turkmen, the kind of people who seem determined to destroy Iraq to suit the most craven desires of their kith and kin. Al-Lami was the person who publicly led the bid to use Iraq’s poorly designed de-Baathification laws to disqualify many important Sunni leaders before the March 2010 elections. He was believed to have been connected with some of the Shia “special groups,” terrorists-cum-death-squads by another name. Iraq would have been undeniably better off without him.

Someone else apparently thought so too, and in May 2011, that someone killed him. As bad as al-Lami was, his death may prove even worse for Iraq than the continuation of his political career. His was the first high-profile political assassination in a very long time. It marked an important escalation in a growing trend. The Americans honestly don’t know who is doing all the killing, but it isn’t just al-Qaeda. Sunnis, Shia, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians and others are all targets. They’re being shot, knifed, blown up and murdered in various other ways with no discernible pattern. It suggests the reappearance of a propensity to employ assassination to advance political agendas and then to retaliate for other people’s murders.

Most of those killed so far have been low- or mid-level officials. Few with a profile like Ali al-Lami’s. But his death was the predictable next step in the re-creation of the vicious cycle that once plunged Iraq into the maelstrom of civil war. Once people begin to kill each other to push political agendas, if no outside authority steps in to stop it—the state or a third-party peacekeeper—it becomes the norm. The assassins and their victims realize that they can get away with it; the targeted groups often decide to become killers themselves. Then it’s only a matter of time before it escalates horizontally, with more and more people dying, and vertically, with more politically important people getting killed.

When I went to visit the prime minister’s office in June, my friend and fellow traveler, the great Iraq expert Raad Alkadiri, pointed out a poster on the walls of the compound. It mourned the death of the “martyr,” Ali al-Lami. That’s not good. In Iraq, them’s fightin’ words. It is the kind of public pronouncement that could easily incline others to seek vengeance on whomever they think might have murdered al-Lami. And if they do, they probably won’t be content to kill someone low on the totem pole as payback for such a high-profile villain.

THE BIG losers are the Iraqi people. They got exactly the opposite of what they voted for. They wanted an effective, technocratic government free of sectarianism and warlords. They wanted leaders who would concentrate on rebuilding Iraq and improving their lives. They got none of that.

Iraqis wanted change, and instead they got more of the same. Although voters threw out 75 percent of the incumbent parliamentarians in the election, virtually the same constellation of leaders is still running the country as if nothing happened. Far from the government becoming more effective, it remains largely inert. There are some good new ministers who are trying to do things, but some good old ministers lost their jobs. It is hard to know whether Iraq came out better in the end. The government is just as paralyzed as before, with little expectation that it will be able to address the vast, crucial issues still confronting Baghdad like the nature of federalism, the governance of Iraq’s phenomenally valuable oil sector, and the relationship between the central government and the provinces. In the meantime, it is difficult to the point of impossible for other government officials to address more immediate needs. Consequently, public-opinion polls show Iraqis becoming increasingly frustrated with the ruling elite. Not surprisingly, al-Maliki’s popularity has plummeted while Ayad Allawi’s has soared even though many Shia (and even some Sunnis) argue that everyone is equally culpable for the current state of affairs.

Public unhappiness boiled over earlier this year with some help from the Arab Spring. Emboldened by the success of protesters in Tunisia and Egypt, Iraqis organized their own “day of rage” in Baghdad on February 25, 2011. What was striking about Iraq’s unrest, however, was that it expressed Iraqi anger at the inability—or maybe unwillingness—of the government to address the persistent lack of basic services, particularly, but not limited to, electricity. Unemployment was also a complaint, as was the frustrating politics of Baghdad. But unlike the protests they were copying elsewhere in the Arab world, the Iraqis were demanding that the government get its act together; they weren’t demanding the end of the government itself. There were some who wanted to see the prime minister or the cabinet ousted, but no one wanted to see Iraqi democracy overturned.

The mass demonstrations in Baghdad panicked the political leadership. The government feared that it would suffer the same fate as Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Although a wonderfully positive moment of truth for Iraqi leaders, the ultimate outcome has been less good. The leadership attempted to do the right thing, briefly. Prime Minister al-Maliki announced that within one hundred days, every ministry would have to demonstrate tangible progress or else face the consequences. But he then did little to energize his ministries, and when the one-hundred-day deadline came and went, there were no consequences—for him or any of his ministers. No one was held accountable. No one suffered for their failure or even inaction. The Arab Spring simply bolstered the leadership’s sense that it could ignore the desires of the electorate with no price to pay. The moment passed.

IRAQ’S BIGGEST winners? Violent extremists. In return for backing al-Maliki’s return to the prime ministership, the Sadrists got control of a number of important social ministries and a free hand in southern Iraq. Already the Sadrists are throwing their weight around in Basra, Amara, Nasiriya and other cities. They have ousted local officials and told all who would listen that the prime minister has effectively ceded the south to them, and that no one will be able to look to Baghdad to protect them with another “Charge of the Knights.”

The greatest problem with the Sadrist trend is not its connection to Iran, although that is a worry. Rather it is that the Sadrists make no bones about the fact that they seek to employ a Hezbollah model to create “a state within a state.” Eventually they plan to dominate Iraq. This is an insidious model to combat, as recent developments in Lebanon make all too clear. The longer that the Sadrists have political cover—no matter how reluctant—from the prime minister to do as they like in the south, the harder it will be to stop this trend and the more likely that Iraq will someday find itself in a situation like Lebanon’s.

In the near term, the Sadrist deal with al-Maliki has meant that violent Shia groups with names like Asa’ib al-Haq, Kata’ib Hizballah and the Promised Day Brigade of Moktada al-Sadr’s own Jaish al-Mahdi have been able to operate with relative impunity. Their attacks on U.S. troops are creating a real force-protection problem for the United States in ways that could undermine American public support for a renewal of the U.S. military commitment to Iraq (assuming that the Iraqis actually ask for a continued presence). Of greater importance, rising Shia violence, mistreatment of the remaining Sons of Iraq, and the growing sense that the Shia “stole” the election and are now using their control of the government to deprive the Sunni community of its fair share of power and economic benefits appear to be pushing many Sunnis back in the direction of fear and violent opposition. Slowly growing support for Sunni terrorist groups like Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqa al-Naqshabandia (The Men of the Army of the Naqshabandia Order) is a particularly important canary in the coal mine because they represent a more nationalist opposition compared to al-Qaeda in Iraq, which remains largely discredited by its foreign influence and extreme religious beliefs. Worse still, many Sunni tribal leaders and mid-level officials talk openly about having to take up arms to defend their communities from the Shia terrorists, since the government won’t and the Americans are leaving.

AFTER THIRTY years of Saddam Hussein’s misrule, three foreign wars, a dozen years of comprehensive international sanctions and an intercommunal civil war, Iraq needs all the help it can get. Over here, the only question that Americans seem to ask is whether the Iraqi government will agree to a new pact that would permit American troops to remain in country past December 31, 2011. It’s not that this is meaningless to what happens in Iraq, only that it may prove to be beside the point. What matters moving forward is not the number of troops the United States is able to keep on the ground but the authorities they retain. If they are not able to continue to serve as peacekeepers holding Iraq’s fractious political system together, then there is no good reason to have them there at all.

The Iraqi government seems deeply ambivalent. On the one hand, American troops provide considerable logistical, training and even combat support to the Iraqi security forces (ISF). Many Iraqi officials, particularly Iraqi generals, worry that without it, the ISF will stumble or even collapse—not something the prime minister and his allies can afford. On the other hand, American military forces, acting as peacekeepers to prevent bloodshed, often insert themselves into situations where someone isn’t playing by the rules—which virtually every group in Iraq does at different times. For instance, in late February 2011, Kurdish leaders deployed two brigades of their Peshmerga fighters south of the heavily disputed tinderbox city of Kirkuk, where they were not supposed to be, prompting an immediate and very tense confrontation with senior U.S. military personnel who eventually convinced the Kurds to pull back to their side of the city.

Even the government itself, including the prime minister’s own staff, acts extraconstitutionally, unconstitutionally, illegally or downright dangerously from time to time. Whenever that happens, they don’t really like it when the U.S. military steps in to defuse the situation and enforce the letter and spirit of the Iraqi political system. Consequently, Baghdad may ask for a small number of American troops to remain, but then confine them to a few large bases without the authority to play their vital peacekeeping role. That would be a bad deal for the Iraqi people and for the United States. Our troops would be reduced to spectators as various Iraqi groups employ violence against one another. Moreover, if we have troops in Iraq but do nothing to stop bloodshed there, it would be seen as proof of Washington’s complicity. If American forces cannot enforce the rules of the game, they should not be in Iraq, period, lest they be portrayed as contributing to the destruction of the country.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi economy remains a basket case, and Iraqis from across the country and across the political spectrum recognize a need for America’s help in rebuilding infrastructure, agriculture and industry; reforming their educational system, business regulations and bureaucratic operations; reintegrating Iraq into the global economy; overcoming a series of lingering diplomatic problems; and preventing excessive intervention by any of their neighbors. Many Iraqis even recognize that their fragile democracy would benefit from a continued American military presence—if only to restrain predatory indigenous politicians and neighboring states alike.

All of these needs and desires create leverage for the United States. They are all things the Iraqis want from Washington. Thus, the most important source of U.S. influence moving forward is conditionality. Because Iraq’s domestic politics is the key to the future stability of the country, and because it remains so fragile, it must be the principal American focus. This means that several important standards must be met: continuing progress on democracy, transparency and the rule of law; ongoing development of bureaucratic capacity; no outbreak of revolutionary activity, including coups d’état; no emergence of dictators; reconciliation among the various ethnosectarian groupings, as well as within them; and a reasonable delineation of center-periphery relations, including a workable agreement over the nature of federalism. On the economic front, U.S. assistance to Iraq should be conditioned upon the Iraqi authorities putting in place oversight and accountability mechanisms aimed at limiting the corrupting effects of their oil economy. Fortunately, there are key areas of the Iraqi economy where U.S. diplomatic support, technical assistance, consulting services, and technology and knowledge transfers could deliver substantial benefits. America has the goods to bargain. The question is whether Washington will.

THERE IS extensive scholarly literature on how civil wars start, end and recur, and Iraq’s experiences over the past eight years conform to these patterns frighteningly closely. Historically, states that have undergone an intercommunal civil war like the one in Iraq have an unfortunate tendency to slip back into such conflict. This is especially true when the state in question has major, easily looted resources—like oil.

This same history demonstrates that a slide into civil war typically follows a period of time when old problems come back to haunt a country but everyone sees them as relatively minor and easily solved, and thus they do not take them seriously or exert themselves to nip them in the bud. Then, seemingly small and simple-to-overcome issues snowball quickly—much faster than anticipated—and a resurgence of civil war that people believed was years or even decades away reignites overnight. Unfortunately, the point where civil war became inevitable typically is clear only in the rearview mirror.

A civil war in Iraq would be horrendous for the long-suffering Iraqi people, but it could easily be disastrous for us too. Civil wars have a very bad tendency to spill over into neighboring states through refugees, terrorists and militias who take up roost just across the border and in so doing drag those countries into the fight. As we saw in 2005–2006, and are seeing again today with the civil strife in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain, civil wars inflame the passions of ethnic, religious and political groups that span those borders, and often produce severe economic dislocations. Almost inevitably, various neighbors find themselves intervening to “protect their interests” and end the plague of spillover they are suffering—usually covertly at first, but then overtly when their covert efforts fail. That’s how civil wars in one country can lead to civil wars in others (Lebanon to Syria and Rwanda to Congo), and how they metastasize into regional wars. With key allies and oil producers like Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia sitting next to Iraq and the entire region afire from the events of the Arab Spring, a massive conflagration in Baghdad is the last thing that anyone needs.

All of Iraq’s reemerging problems (and numerous others) remain nascent. It is likely that they could be addressed and even reversed relatively easily at this point. But it is not clear they will be: we do not know if the Iraqis have the perspicacity to do so, or if the United States has the desire to push them. In a different context, Baghdad’s recent problems could be written off as minor. But given how closely Iraq has hewed to historical models of intercommunal civil war, these developments need to be taken very, very seriously.

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#1. To: Brian S (#0) (Edited)

America does not have any imperial history to draw from (some colonies from the late 1800s & early 1900s is all we can claim to that legacy) but what the USA should have done was pick a pro western (Anglo-American ally) royal family member from Jordan, make him king. Iraq is a fragmented society so a royal system would mean the focus of the state would be the monarchy and not an ethnicity.

A king would be under obligation to defend his "subjects", even if they are "infidels" like Christians, Sunni, Shia, etc. or ethnically different (Kurds). Because that is what kings do, defend.

Iraq, having a Sunni king would have eased the mind of the minority Sunni Arabs. Because it is a constitutional republic the PM would probably always be a Shi'ite from simple majority so the Sh'i'ites would be satisfied.

The semi-independent Kurds could be granted a cabinet post like minister of defense of oil and they would be happy.

But America wanted a weird blend of democracy and American backed puppet govt to rule over Iraq and this ongoing cluster-fuck is what America has.

What America did to Iraq is a criminal negligence of the highest order.

"This is what economic policy in the West has become--a tool of the wealthy used to enrich themselves by spreading poverty among the rest of the population." Paul Craig Roberts

Godwinson  posted on  2011-10-14   15:47:28 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#2. To: Brian S (#0)

The 18 billion was in $100 dollar bills, and the weight would be approximately 198 tons. How do you lose control of nearly 200 tons?


Osama al-Nujaifi, the Iraqi parliament speaker, has told Al Jazeera that the amount of Iraqi money unaccounted for by the US is $18.7bn - three times more than the reported $6.6bn.

The US has audited the money three times, but has still not been able to say exactly where it went.


Fred Mertz  posted on  2011-10-14   16:03:26 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#3. To: Brian S (#0)

Owe-bama owns it now.

Proxy IP's are amusing.....lmao

Badeye  posted on  2011-10-14   16:41:36 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

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