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