Civil War is impossible in Iraq and other thoughts

Thursday, November 30, 2006
There. I said it. Going against the CW is a bit scary but I'm doing it anyway.

Setting aside the fact that Iraq has a functioning government (ONE government, not TWO like in our own Civil War) even though its military isn't quite yet up to speed, my main reason for thinking civil war is impossible in Iraq has to do with the society itself.

The sunni/shia distinction is a non-starter among most Iraqis. If more people knew Iraqi society they could figure this out for themselves. Sunni marry shia and have kids some of whom are sunni, some shia. It's just not a big huge deal to most Iraqis. Not only families themselves, but communities are mixed all over the country. Many baathists were shia. I wonder how many Americans are aware of that.

Makes it kind of difficult for the sectarian violence to gain a life of its own and spread throughout society.

And it argues against any kind of partition as well. How do you separate husbands from wifes, parents from children, if you have a shia Iraq, a sunni Iraq, and a kurdish Iraq?

Besides which, the Iraqi people themselves come from all over and few can trace forebears from only mesopotamia. Many from Syria, from Jordan, from India even, and from various baltic areas. They have a bond, though, and it's not Islam, it's Iraq.

There is sectarian violence, no question. And when you think of the provocations instigated by al Qaeda (via Zarqawi), especially the bombing of the Mosque of the Golden Dome in Samarra, you might wonder why the violence isn't worse--as bad as it is. Iraqi society itself is probably the answer. And never forget that much of the violence in Iraq is NOT sectarian, it is still baathist/sadaamist and al Qaeda.

I just learned (from a presentation on C-SPAN) that Muktada al-Sadr freaked out that he was being blamed for all the sectarian violence so he fingered all those groups claiming to be his that aren't actually a part of his army. Anyone can put on a black hood, grab an AK-47, and claim to fight for him.

We've got the list, and those are the groups we're currently targetting in shia neighborhoods.

(I guess we're not after Sadr himself--I suppose we figure he can be dealt with politically.)

As for the Iraqi people 'fighting back' and anyone who may think they're all cowards and could care less:

(1)The army no longer runs away, they know who their enemies are: former baathists/sadaamists and al qaeda. They have a government and it is functioning and the army is fighting for Iraq.

(2)The 'regular' people of Iraq are going about their daily lives. Still buying stuff, going to work, going to school, getting married, having parties. They're not sitting at home afraid of the dark.

And that is the best way for the millions of Iraqis to deal with the problems. Let the government and the coalition handle it. It's their job.

It is true that many Iraqis have fled Iraq. But I think it's odd that most of them are the richer folks with enough money to buy up property in Jordan (which is causing rents to go up in Amman which has the Jordanians mightily annoyed). These couldn't be former baathists and relations by any chance?

Enough for now.


terrye said...


I agree with you. Just because some insipid reporter looking at a teleprompter decides it is a civil war does not make it one. I wonder when they will decide it is over? Will there have to be Iraqi version of Lee surrendering to Grant?

And I think that some people think killing Sadr might just create more problems and that is why they have not done it. Maybe they are right. I am no expert.

Of course there will always be arm chair generals with an inflated sense of their own importance who think they have all the answers...but the people who actually have to make the life and death decisions have to take all the variables into account. Otherwise those real life variables comes back and bite them.