Parties to the war in Iraq

Sabrina Tavernise of the NY Times talks about how things have changed in Iraq as she leaves after four years of her off and assignment in the country. She mentions how her contacts list in her phone directory has the names of many who are no longer there or are dead. However, buried deep in the story was this:


For those eager to write off Iraq as lost, one fact bears remembering. A great many Shiites and Kurds, who together make up 80 percent of the population, will tell you that in spite of all the mistakes the Americans have made here, the single act of removing Saddam Hussein was worth it. And the new American plan, despite all the obstacles, may have a chance to work. With an Iraqi colleague, I have been studying a neighborhood in northern Baghdad that has become a dumping ground for bodies. There, after American troops conducted sweeps, the number of corpses dropped by a third in September. The new plan is built around that kind of tactic. But the odds are stacked against the corps of bright young officers charged with making the plan work, particularly because their Iraqi partner — the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki — seems to be on an entirely different page. When American officials were debating whether to send more troops in December, I went to see an Iraqi government official. The prospect of more troops infuriated him. More Americans would simply prolong the war, he said.

“If you don’t allow the minority to lose, you will carry on forever,” he said.

The remarks struck me as a powerful insight into the Shiites’ thinking. Abused under Mr. Hussein, they still act like an oppressed class. That means Iraqis are looking into a future of war, at least in the near term. As one young Shiite in Sadr City said to me: “This just has to burn itself out.”

There are some Israelis who could say the same thing about their wars with there Arab neighbors. One of the things that we have done over the last almost sixty years is kept hope alive for losing Sunnis, and in the case of Hezballah losing Shia. We have not let the winner finish the job in these wars. That may be the real flaw in our current strategy in Iraq. It is the hope that these people can find peace with each other without victory by the winner. That is the needle we are trying to thread. It is worth the effort, because the consequences of failure will not be an end of the war either.

Westhawk has an interesting take on this issue and the confluence of interest between Maliki and Pelosi. As this post makes clear, the Iraqis still need our help, regardless of how much they think it hampers their efforts to eliminate the Sunnis.


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