Thursday, February 23, 2006

Is Iraq On The Brink Of Civil War?

When the debate on whether or not to go into Iraq was being played out, I didn't have a blog. However, I was playing around in the brutal world of political message boards and if you had read many of my posts, you would have read some pieces that conveyed my apprehension at the time, in the whole affair. (Not fear, but apprehension; there is a difference.)

In any intervention of any kind, there are potential side effects or unintended outcomes.

Many people before the war were focused on the gung ho aspect of it all, fully believing it was the right thing to do. But I think some people really did not think about the different scenarios that could play out, if things didn't go as planned. And I do firmly believe that there have been some significant things that have NOT gone as planned.

One of the those side effects made its grand appearance yesterday, as is reported by the AP, via My Way with the hat tip going to Drudge.

The attack on the Shiite mosque yesterday was designed and executed for the specific purpose of inciting a civil war and it appears it may be working. (The London Times thinks so too.) The violence is escalating, throwing the new Iraqi government into its first significant test as a nation. How they respond will be a key indicator as to how much longer we can expect to have troops in Iraq.

If they respond weakly, and Shiites feel they cannot be protected from radical Sunnis, they will begin to form militias. Militias aren't always well regulated and can, in and of themselves, spark more violence. If the government does crack down harshly, then we have a situation where Sunnis will pull out of the government and continue an internal insurgency against the newly elected government. There is a fine line that can be walked here and there is no clear solution.

Iran has weighed in, as they always seem to do in these cases. But in true hostile rogue state fashion, they have not been particularly helpful. For them to suggest that the U.S. or Israel had anything to do with this, is a typical response that one has to expect from an evil regime. Any opportunity to demonize the Israelis or us, is what the Iranians crave in their quest to incite worldwide jihad.

What I think has happened is one of two things. Either, the foreign fighters of al Qaeda (being Sunnis themselves and no big fans of the Shi'a) were responsible or the Iranians did it to incite a civil war, so as to draw the Iraqi Shiite population closer to Iran.

Tha bad news in all of this, is that continued instability will only delay the withdrawal of troops from that region. The good news is, the Muslim world shows no real signs of uniting for the big final, bloody, worldwide jihad, anytime soon.

But beyond all of that, one of the points I want to make is this:

Anytime a brutal and oppressive dictator has ruled a nation for as long and oppressively as Saddam did, the nation becomes a power vacuum after he is gone, unless a powerful, equally as oppressive government follows. Democracy for some is still an experiment, and Iraq is no exception. Just look how hard it has been to de-Stalinize the former Soviet Union. it still isn't completely de-Stalinized, even today. And what we are seeing now in Iraq, is more evidence of this theory coming to light and vaulting into full-fledged "fact" status.

Will there be a civil war in Iraq? Maybe. If it does happen, the only real answer may be to partition it off, into three autonomous regions: A Kurdish region, a Sunni region, and a Shiite region.


All_I_Can_Stands said...

"Just look how hard it has been to de-Stalinize the former Soviet Union. it still isn't completely de-Stalinized, even today. "

LA, your statement zeroes in on the fact that Iraq is judged on an extremely unrealistic success timetable when we look at places like the former Soviet Union or Kosovo for that matter. The partisans have lined up over Iraq with stop watches in hand with no regard for the welfare of the people but rather to criticize Bush.

SuperFrenchie said...

Iraq is not on the verge of civil war. It is already (and has been for a while) in a civil war.

Just as the US is not on its way to lose the war, it has lost it a long time ago.

Sad to say, but that's the reality.

Always On Watch said...

The U.S. will get the blame, when all is said and done.

SuperFrenchie said...

always on watch: // The U.S. will get the blame, when all is said and done.//

Indeed, and it should!

Guess who said that[1], on March 19, 2003?:

"To those who choose to use force and think they can resolve the world’s complex problems through swift and preventive action, we argue the need for determined action over time. For today, to ensure our security, we have to take account of the multiplicity of the many crises and their many facets, including their cultural and religious dimensions."


"To those who think that the scourge of terrorism will be eradicated through the action in Iraq, we say they run the risk of failing in their objective. The irruption of force in this area which is so unstable can only exacerbate the tensions and divisions on which the terrorists feed."

Say what you want about France's motivation, she simply was right on target!

Just like for Vietnam, don't you wish you had listened to what we had to say, instead of insulting us like we were your enemy?

[1] The answer is the much-derided French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin at the UN.

LASunsett said...


To reply to your comment, I must express a known premise that I learned many years ago:

You can do the right thing with the right motives and you can do the wrong thing with the wrong motives. That's pretty simple, right?

But you can also do the right thing with the wrong motives and the wrong thing with the right motives.

1. France and the U.S, had two different objectives in Vietnam.

France had colonialized SE Asia and from the significant accounts that I read about that period, it was not a particularly benificient imperialistic quest, either. Their motive was to hang on to it, the Viet Minh wanted France out. They wanted France out because of the exploitative nature of the French occupiers.

Wrong thing/wrong motive.

Enter the U.S. to the fray. The U.S. motives were multiple, but the chiefest of those motives was to stop the spread of Communism, during a time when the Domino theory was an accepted premise among those in power. Why was that? Because those in power were the younger generation that had just witnessed 50 million people being killed in WWII, because a madman wanted to rule the world. That can tend to have an effect on your thinking, when you see one Communist revolution after another, slowly chipping away at the world. You have to put yourself in their shoes for a moment and try to understand their mindset, at that point in time.

Now, we know from history that the U.S. screwed the whole thing up by allowing the politicians to fight the war and not the military. That war would have been winnable, had the politicians stayed out and not set a policy of limited war.

Wrong thing/right motive.

2. If I were de Villepin, I would have said that stuff too, especially considering that my country was second best customer of the Iraqis, in the Oil for Food Scandal. Poli-Sci 101 says specifically that any and all countries are intent on looking after their own best interests, first and foremost. And I can understand that.

But you can also understand why Americans cannot take French chastisement very easily, when we know that the French are just as guilty of looking out after their own interests, many times with purely selfish and self-serving motives. (Want proof? Just take a look at France and the rest of Europe during the early mercantile and colonial age. That age ended for France in 1962, when Algeria kicked France out of their country.)

Now since we do not know the exact long-term outcome of this intervention in Iraq, it's not easy to put a label on this, at this point in time. But if what you are saying were to turn out to be 100% right, then I would say that the French advised us against removing Saddam was a case of:

Right thing/wrong motive.

Our motive was to rid the world of a despotic tyrant because it was WIDELY believed that he had WMDs and could get them into the hands of those that wanted to harm us. So again, you can surely forgive us that we didn't listen to French politicians that were defending Saddam, only because several French companies stood to lose their cash cow.

And since we do not have the final chapter written yet, it's hard to label this. But even if you are 100% right and we are 100% wrong, this is a case of:

Wrong thing/right motive.

So, you can scream "I told you so" if that makes you feel better. But your country has made its share of mistakes in the past and you will have a hard time convincing me that if France hadn't had their hands in the till, they would have given a damn about Saddam or Iraq. In fact, you would have an equally difficult time convincing me that if France hadn't had those contracts that they STILL wouldn't have been right there with us, ready to benefit.

SuperFrenchie said...

//Wrong thing/right motive.//

There were about 45 dictatorships in the world at the time of the US invasion of Iraq. Somehow, the one that sits on the second largest oil reserves in the world was chosen.

But of course, being that we’re Americans and we’re such a moral people, our motives were pure.

Yeah, right!

Outside of the United States, nobody gives any credence to the notion that France was opposed to the war in Iraq for financial motives.

For one simple reason: it makes no sense.

Look, France is a 2 trillion dollars economy. By most accounts, the Iraqi contracts with French companies were worth between 4 and 6 billions. Or 0.2%. In fact, since Iraq was under sanctions and pretty much a bankrupt economy, the contracts there were pretty much worthless.

If money had been the motive and France thought the same way as the US about the outcome of the war, it would have made a lot more sense to ally with the Americans. Reconstruction contracts would have easily trumped any current deadbeat contract. There’s also the matter of upsetting one of your largest trading partner. The boycott talks at the time were all the rage. France has 2400 companies in the US, accounting for $160 billion in trade (3rd largest), and the US is also the 3rd largest investor in France.

6 billions in Iraq? That’s about 6 days of trade between the US and France. What idiots would have wanted to jeopardize a billion a day in trade for 6 billion a year of trade with a deadbeat country?

And don’t bring up oil-for-food. There is not a single mention of involvement of the French government in the Volker report. French companies were involved (as were American companies, although we certainly had a few more than you did!), but not a single representative of the French government. The fact that the French government was involved is a myth perpetuated by the likes of Fox News, who just hate to have been so wrong about France.

All_I_Can_Stands said...


If I follow your line of reasoning you are basing the rightness or wrongness of going into Iraq on the results and actions of the insurgents and the Iraqi people that followed?

So if we had lost against Hitler in WWII, because of that it would have been the wrong thing to do?

What is this outcome based morality?

As for Saddam being one of 45 sitting dictators, Saddam was the only one we had been at war with and had 17 resolutions backing our right to demand action from him which he thumbed his nose at. Saddam also had a historically proven propensity to expand his tyranny outside his own borders.

Far from the idea you cast that we just selected Saddam out of the list using eenie, meenie miney moe or a roll of the dice, or that we just didn't like the look in his face.

I'm sure there were other dictators in Hitler's time.

SuperFrenchie said...

//If I follow your line of reasoning you are basing the rightness or wrongness of going into Iraq on the results and actions of the insurgents and the Iraqi people that followed?//

In my opinion, there are 2 reasons why the US went into Iraq:

1. To avenge Dad.
2. To establish a dominant position in the Middle East, from which to shake things up

While the first reason is plenty wrong, there’s nothing morally wrong with the second. Even if oil was a motive, there’s really nothing really wrong with preventing the fundamentalist Islamists from getting their hands on oil and provoking a worldwide depression as they would like to do.

What’s annoying is making it look like all the US wanted was “liberate 24 million Iraqis” and the French wanted to "keep their contracts with Saddam." That’s complete bull.

//So if we had lost against Hitler in WWII, because of that it would have been the wrong thing to do?//

Again, you speak as if that decision to go to war against Germany was a decision taken on moral grounds. The US did not even decide to go to war against Germany. Germany declared war to the US. And if morality had been a factor, the US would not have maintained an embassy in Berlin while Germany attacked Poland. Or have friendly relations with the Vichy government for quite a while.

As LaSunsett said, “Poli-Sci 101 says specifically that any and all countries are intent on looking after their own best interests, first and foremost.” Morality is typically used afterwards to justify the decisions, especially the wrong ones.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

SuperFrenchie, After I posted and reread, I thought the use of the word morality was not the best choice. I knew I would be soundly beat with that choice and that was the case.

As for your two reasons. I completely reject the "avenge Dad" thing. Bush won't even stick up for himself half the time, so I can't see him starting a war over it. Either way it would take a mind reader or a secretly recorded meeting stating that to even make it worth discussing.

Yes, I believe there were many reasons for going into Iraq. Strategic positioning was likely one of them - not for the oil, but for easy access to Iran and Syria. Nobody ever decides to do something for one reason. I'm sure there was a list of pros and cons that were gone over beyond the obvious WMD. I'm sure liberation was one of the items discussed.

SuperFrenchie said...

All_I_Can_Stands: //Either way it would take a mind reader or a secretly recorded meeting stating that to even make it worth discussing.//

I agree. Just a personal feeling and impossible to prove. I base it on:

- The way he said “he almost killed my dad!” before the war. The desire for revenge was visible on his face (at least it appears that way to me)
- The fact that the very first target when “shock and awe” began was a house where Saddam was believed to be.
- The look of contentment and pleasure when Saddam was captured. He called a press conference almost immediately, even though it was on a weekend if I recall.

// not for the oil, but for easy access to Iran and Syria//

The fact that Iraq had oil was making the strategic positioning decision a lot easier to take. Switch Jordan with Iraq for example. Do you really think the US would have gone to oil-less Jordan to depose a bloody dictator in the hopes to shake the Middle East? The oil (and the money and influence derived from it) made the case a lot easier.

Concerning morality:

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that France did not go into Iraq for moral reasons either. The French reasoning was simply that it was going to create more trouble than it was worth. If they had thought for a minute that it could have been worth the trouble (in money, influence, whatever), they would have gone.

I am not a big fan of Chirac, but that’s one thing that people should know about him: when he talks Middle East, he knows what he’s talking about. He’s been a friend of various Middle East rulers for his entire political life. In this case, he just turned out to be right on the money.

Besides, he was far from being the only one with that opinion. In France or elsewhere in Europe and pretty much the entire world, it was shared by something like 80% of the people. Even in the US, about half the people shared Chirac’s opinion.

PS: why the final “s” at “Stands”?

All_I_Can_Stands said...

Good exchange SuperFrenchie.

'PS: why the final “s” at “Stands”?'

The Popeye cartoon character (who's picture shows up in my posts), who is one of my favorites, often says "Whoa! It's all I can stands, 'cause I can't stands no more." This is usually when he is getting beat up by Bluto and then eats his spinach which gives him super strenth to mop the floor with Bluto.

Adding an extra 'S' to words is common with Popeye. In the event you are not familiar with Popeye, he ends each cartoon singing "I fights to the finish, 'cause I eats me spinach. I'm Popeye the sailor man".

Probably more info than you bargained for :)

LASunsett said...

"I fights to the finish, 'cause I eats me spinach. I'm Popeye the sailor man".

You forgot the, TOOT TOOT