Read Matt and weep

Matt, over at Today in Iraq, put up the most amazing post yesterday, to mark the second anniversary of the “Mission Accomplished” peroration by Our Great Leader.
If you can’t read anything else this year, read that.
Let’s hope to God the US forces aren’t still over there, killing Iraqis and getting killed by them, this time next year.

7 thoughts on “Read Matt and weep”

  1. How does one interpret the reelection of Bush and Blair, the main architects of the Iraq war, in light of the coffer and blood costs, at a time when the WMD rationale has been completely discredited?
    To the citizenry the war is only detrimental, so how come they vote against their self interest? Is the vote purely ideological or is there a geopolitical necessity judgement behind it?
    The Spaniards voted their self interest, how come the US and UK were different?

  2. I think that the most dangerous game the US has been playing in Iraq since the invasion is the sectarian game of divides and rules. Recently, with the dramatic increase in Iraqis casulaties, the risk of civil war and inter ethnic conflict has been the main motive of the US media. But this analysis sounds very partial IMO, for several reasons :
    1) There is a civil war going on since several months in Iraq. Probably since november 2003, aka, since the resistance to the US invasion got more serious.
    2) The civil war going on actually is linked to the resistance to the US occupation. It opposes the collaborators and US troops on one side, to the Iraqi resistants on the other side. The terrorism aiming at Iraqi civilians is another story : it’s a byproduct of the US invasion/occupation : the mere presence of US troops attracts fundamentalists terrorists in Iraq. It doesn’t seem to show internal divides in the Iraqi society itself (although with the time it may come to integrate some Iraqis as well).
    3) The ethnic divides have been emphasized by the US occupation and US media. It comes in very handy to blur the real fights going on : the resistance of Iraqis to a new form of hypocrite colonization. It looks similar to the first class fights in the beginning of industralization in the West : in those times, the leaders of capitalism and bourgeois power tried to interprete the fights of the working class as a fight between modernism and tradition, between urban and rural mentalities, maskerading the real reasons of the conflict.
    4) Among the possible ethnic conflicts, the Kurdish conflict is the most serious and important : the Kurds really want an independant country. They have been fighting for it since years and have got a de facto autonomy in the north. I’m still wondering how the US can at the same time hold an alliance with the Kurds and promise to the Turks and the EU and the UN that Iraq’s boundaries won’t be touched.
    5) But what about the Sunni/Shiites conflict ? Here, my historic knowledges are limited (please correct me if I’m wrong). From what I understand :
    * The Sunnis have built the elite of Iraq since the Ottoman and British empire. Although that may have created some frustration for the Shiites, this didn’t result in ethnical fights, or did it ?
    * There has not been serious ethnical fights between the Sunnis and Shiites apart of those reported in the Coran at the time of the succession of Mahomet ?
    * The holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala were the seat of the religious Shiites power and as such enjoyed some degrees of autonomy, allowing a relatively peacefully coexistence between the Sunnis elite (the representant of the Ottoman/British political power) and the (religious) Shiite elite residing in Najaf etc..
    * Saddam prohibited some important Shiites’ ritual processions, but that was done in the frame of secularism and modernization against religious traditions. That was not perceived as a Shiites/Sunnis fight (?).
    * Saddam, like all the dictators feared any counterpower. So for political reasons, he oppressed the Shiites. But again, that was a political problem, not a Shiites/Sunnis fight (?). Some Shiites who made allegiance to the Baath were able to get some social ascension during Saddam, for instance.
    6) The fact that the Sunnis elites were used by the Ottoman/British empires and then by Saddam to lead the country can be used to create/increase ressentment between the two communities. This is a very dangerous game that the US is playing now in order to stay in Iraq indefinitely. Many Sunnis elites were put off and persecuted by Saddam as well, but the US didn’t care for these potential secular allies.. This is a criminal politic waged for very egoistical reasons (the control of the natural ressource of an important geostrategical region).
    7) The Shiites (probably due to Sistani’s wiseness) have shown a great restraint until now. Recent moves of the new Jafaari’s government, however, seems to indicate another trend, alas.
    8) Once the seeds of interethnic conflicts have been thrown, a spiral of violence begins which is very difficult to quiet and may leaves memories and reasons of revenges for years/centuries.
    9) I have lost any respect for the US values. Free market and capitalism aren’t equal to freedom and democracy, on the contrary. I hate what the US government is doing to the rest of the world and I’ve lost any sympathy for the Americans who supported Bush’s reelection. EU and US have less and less values in common.
    10) Bush was in Eu these past days in order to celebrate the end of WWII. He dared to say that fighting the nazis was the fight of the good versus evil, desperately trying to put America on the side of the good, which she isn’t nowadays. The nazis were war criminals, but the US isn’t the good fighting the evil. Methinks she is rather on the side of evil these days, if we have to use these manichean categories, which I never see fit.

  3. Pretty good summary, Christiane– but I’d say you’re a little off in number 5. There are deep and sensitive problems between a proportion of the Sunnis and a proportion of the Shiites– though there are also many countervailing forces that pull them together.

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