Monday, December 19, 2005

Defeat, Irreversible, Continues

The sanguinary and intractable logic of the situation in Iraq persists in trumping any relentless Administration PR to the contrary. The woeful appearance of a somber, but unrepentant, Preznit on Sunday TV prolonged the attempt to sell continued violence as if it were soap flakes. Keep repeating the message and the people will buy! Well, not if the clothes stay dirty.

Salim Lone is a former spokesman for the UN mission in Iraq. Writing “The Nadir of Occupation” in today’s Guardian, Lone argues (from a Sunni perspective) that the occupation itself is the source of the continuing violence in Iraq. “Last week's election does little to heal the wounds that are splitting Iraq up into violent fiefdoms,” he states.

The consequence is that no durable reconstruction can even begin until the US leaves. When even a 20% minority population (newly exposed to the vengeful depredations of the 60% that are Shia and the other 20% that are Kurd) wants you to cease protecting them, possibly your “protection” is part of the problem.

Here are some of Lone’s observations:
In American proconsul Paul Bremer's 2003 master plan, last week's election was meant to be the culminating act in entrenching democratic rule in Iraq. Instead it marks the nadir of the American enterprise there.

The US introduced sectarianism in Iraq as one of its very first acts of occupation, by reorganising this secular nation's politics along explicitly religious and ethnic lines. This was purportedly done to crush the Ba'ath party, but the larger target was Arab nationalism, as was the case when Israel encouraged Hamas as a counterpoint to the PLO.

This election, apart from the fact that it is taking place under occupation, was held amid such insecurity and violence that few candidates dared to campaign in public. In addition, all three main presidential candidates are long-term exiles, and two of them, Allawi and Ahmed Chalabi, are known to have been in the pay of US security services. This election will not enhance Iraqi sovereignty or the new government's legitimacy, nor would it be recognised as free and fair in any democratic country.
It looks more and more like the three immiscible segments of the Iraqi population are going to have to settle their future themselves. The US having exhausted its influence in a misdirected military adventure unaccompanied by a plan for peace, this may well mean they do so under Iranian and Turkish tutelage. But clearly we’ve shot our bolt. This isn't defeatist, in the pejorative sense of "trying to induce or cause defeat." It's just the brick wall we're engaged in hitting our heads against...


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