Iraq: No Simple Fix

Tom got a fair amount of reaction on LiveJournal:

We need to split the country into 3 smaller countries. After WW2 we split Germany in two to make them less dangerous. Three mini-Iraqs would be easier to manage. Comments?

I have been keeping my opinions to myself for a long time, but I had to respond:

Like when they partitioned India, but more violent?

If you’re going to split, it will be along ethnic lines. That means moving the populations all over so there wont be frightened minorities to purge. So, you’ve got to do that, then you basically have weak states subject to domination by regional powers.

The strongest region, Kurdistan, is already engaging in border skirmishes with Turkey, which DOES NOT WANT a Kurdish state to exist.

Iran gets to dominate the Shia and the Sunnis look to the feeble, unstable kindom of Saudi Arabia for protection. As the Iranian government struggles to retain power in the face of a young population pressing for democracy and modernity, maybe the Iranians annex the Shia part of Iraq just to distract the domestic situation.

I have never been keen on this simplistic plan.

The partition of Germany was instituted to keep the country disunified, weak, and non-threatening, and we followed that up with a strong military occupation. Germany had a fair degree of cultural and national unity. Iraq is the opposite: no uniformity, no threat that they will be a power any time soon, and a chaotic self-identity, and we DON’T HAVE THE TROOPS to occupy the place right, and NOBODY is going to volunteer.

Its a shit sandwich with no simple solution. We either need to stay and do the job right, at great expense, and with a DRAFT, because THE MILITARY HAS A SEVERE SHORTAGE OF PERSONNEL, or we need to say “oh fuck” and go home and hope for the best.

My sympathies are with bring our soldiers home and let the people of the region sort things out. The risk to going home is that we leave a failed state, de facto partition, and it goes all Taliban style and we have to go back in there all over again before long, and possibly regional warfare.

So, insha’Allah, if Uncle Sam calls my number and issues me a vest, rifle, and desert fatigues, I’ll hate it but I’ll go, because I understand why. Pottery Barn, indeed.


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Categories: Politics

  • mullah cimoc

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    1. How long israeli survive without usa triubte payment each year? A: maybe one year, maybe one months.

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  • Yeah, ok, but… Iraq is not historically a single state. It’s been that way for less then a century; the modern nation of Iraq was created when the UK de-colonized the Middle East. One key, I think, is that we shouldn’t partition the country, but they should be allowed to break up into several (ethnic) states if that’s what they want to do. I’m certain there will be violence, yes; but I doubt very much that it will be worse then what we see there now. Forcing the state of Iraq to exist as it does today is perpetuating a colonial fabrication, not supporting an historically federal government.

  • Dan,

    It doesn’t sound like the Iraqis themselves particularly want to partition . . . except perhaps the Kurds . . . who will then find themselves warring with Turkey and Iran . . .

    My initial reaction to “Iraq is a bybroduct of post-colonialism” is that before the state of Iraq you had colonialism, and the Ottoman empire. I guess for now the modern state has backslid to colonialism, but of the three experiences we know, Iraq as a state is the most favorable. Well, to us, anyway, and to the Iraqis, as long as they can hang on to their own government without allowing a dictator to grind the place down.

    I would certainly agree that we need to keep ourselves open to creative ideas, and to promote individual autonomy.