Donnerstag, Januar 18, 2007
Civil War vs. Failed State...
There is a letter to the editor in today's FT (link is here) that raises an excellent point that I'd like to expand on.
First of all, Iraq, despite being called one, is not in a civil war. Rather, it is a failed state: the events of the last decade have destroyed Iraq.
First you have the despotic rule of SH, resulting in a cult of personality: loyalty was not to Iraq, but rather to him (which makes those who decry the disbanding of the Iraqi Army ignorant of the true nature of that Army: it was there as an instrument to do what SH wanted, and not there to serve the state).
Second you have the sanctions after the GWI, which destroyed civil society by impoverishing Iraq in general, except - and this is a critical point - those who directly supported and served SH.
Third you have the invasion, which led to the collapse of what was left of the state.
Fourth you have the continuing low-level fighting, which has moved from attacks on US soldiers to terror killings of civilians.
Add those up and you can see what we have in Iraq: a failed state which cannot get a new start because of continuing sectarian violence, aided and abetted by its neigbors for their own purposes.
For me, that makes the situation clearer in understanding why Iraq hasn't yet started on a road to peace.
Fundamentally, there is no Iraq left.
Oh, it's there, in the hearts and minds of the population. But it's not there any more.
The rulership of SH ruined it.
The sanctions destroyed it.
The invasion liberated Iraq, but the problem was that the old Iraq, the Iraq of the last 40 years, wasn't there any more. That is the failure of post-war planning: everyone "knew" that Iraq was a secular society (after all, the denial of the Left that there were ANY ties between the Iraq of SH and religiously motivated terror groups is part of the litany condemning the war) that *should* have been able to quickly pick up the pieces and reboot, so to speak.
As did Germany and Japan, both devestated by their wars and utterly defeated on the battleground.
But unlike Germany and Japan, both of whom retained their national identity - that is why Hirohito was not deposed and put up for war crimes: it would have destroyed the heart of Japanese culture - and were able to use their positive national charachteristics to rebuild their societies, Iraq was, at the point of the invasion, already a failed state, unable to provide for its citizens, existing not for the sake of Iraqis, but rather only for the sake of SH.
That puts some of the comments during SH's execution also in perspective: at least one of his captors bluntly stated "you have destroyed us".
That is the legacy of SH.
So now what?
The critical thing is that nation-building here has nothing to do with rebuilding roads, infrastucture and the like: it has everything to do with rebuilding the concept of a functioning Iraqi state. One that serves the people of Iraq, not the other way around.
But as long as there are those who do not want this, and they themselves are not sanctioned for meddling in the internal affairs of another country, then it will be a long and stony road.
But one worth taking.
This is what is so appalling about the current pessimism and defeatism in the Congress: these people will be more than happy to inflict major ruin on the Iraqi people in order to further their own little pathetic careers, instead of pushing the rest of the world to help.
Not help the US in Iraq.
But to help the Iraqis in Iraq.
And pointing all the blame to the US is farcical: Iraq was destroyed when the sanctions were put into place. Iraq must be the example in the future that sanctions, as well-minded they may have been, are nothing more than an admittance that other policies have failed. They punish no one but the average person on the street: to imagine for a moment that a despot like SH might have been influenced by such sanctions is to show an appalling lack of knowledge about despots.
Rather, the Iraqis are paying the price now for the perfidy of France and the rest of Europe when Iraq was confronted in the UN: Iraqis are paying the price for the incompetence and ultimately banal corruptability of the UN in enforcing the sanctions, which allowed SH to escape any meaningful effect. Iraqis are paying the price now for the failures of the UN.
The US saved the UN from irrelevance by deposing SH. If the US had backed down, as the French had been paid to try to do, then the UN, today, would be ignored even more than it is.