Monday, October 25, 2004

Be careful what you wish for, revisited

Supposedly, the coming assault on Fallujah is to recapture - excuse me, free - the city from the "foreign terrorists" who hold it "captive" so that the freed citizens can freely take part in the free election freely planned for next, doubtless free, January.

And as a result of this free attempt at freeing freedom, the election may have even less legitimacy that it likely would have had anyway. From the Washington Post:
A powerful group of Sunni Muslim clerics threatened on Sunday to call a boycott of Iraqi elections planned for January if U.S. forces launch a widely expected full-scale assault on rebel-held Fallujah.

Any such call by Iraq's Muslim Clerics' Association, which has helped negotiate ceasefires and hostage releases, would resonate among Sunnis at the forefront of a revolt against the U.S. presence and seriously undermine the poll's credibility. ...

About 200 clerics met last Wednesday to formulate a policy on Fallujah and elections they consider an illegitimate extension of U.S. control. They say they want no part in the polls due by the end of January. ...

Even if an attack on Fallujah is averted, the clerics' association, which comprises thousands of mainly Sunni clerics from across Iraq, would dismiss the outcome of any ballot held under the gaze of 138,000 U.S. troops.

"We will consider the results null and void ... because elections that come with the blood of Iraqis, the burning of their properties and the killing of their women and children are a farce that do not deserve respect," said Faidhi. ...

By contrast, clerics from the Shi'ite community, which comprises about 60 percent of the population, have called for broad participation in elections they hope will finally give them a say in the political future of their country.
The poll I mentioned yesterday said that most Iraqis think their country is not near to civil war (although a significant minority held otherwise). But even if an outright civil war is avoided - an outcome I personally think unlikely and only to come about if the prospect appears even more fearful than any alternative - there is no getting around the fact that long-standing religious and ethnic differences are not going to disappear just because some outward form of governance has changed.

The bottom-line problem is that the Sunnis, long used to being the top dogs during Saddam's reign, do not like the prospect of elections as the result of which they as the minority are likely to have little power - while the majority Shiites, long suffering as the underdogs, are eager for those elections for precisely the same reasons.

In their similar approaches to Iraq, both Shrub and Kerry have staked a lot on the January elections to establish a "legitimate" constitution and government that will produce enough "stability" for the US to withdraw gracefully even if it takes a few years. But there is a considerable likelihood that the elections will produce no such stability, since Sunnis can be expected to continue resisting unless accommodations are made on their behalf - and the more such accommodations are made, the greater the long-simmering Shiite resentment will grow.

They say the first step toward recovery from a problem is to admit you have one. It's time we admitted the problem: There is, as I've said before, no smooth path out, no bloodless resolution, no way to "stay the course" that will not in the end produce as much pain as it intends to prevent. We need to admit to ourselves that we have screwed up big time and the best we can do is to limit the amount of that future pain that we ourselves inflict. I have said it in frustration, I have said it in anger, now I say it in sadness: Set the damn date and get the hell out.

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');