Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald surveys the current prospects for democracy in Iraq:
The Sunnis are not fighting “democracy.” They are fighting the loss of their own rule. They have convinced themselves, by the way, that they represent a majority of the population. How have they done so? They think that Sunni Arabs are being undercounted, and that roughly 45% of the population is Sunni Arab. (The lowest figure I have heard being offered by the Sunnis is 42%, reported by Fouad Ajami). And to this figure — let us say 42% — they then blandly add as “Sunnis” the Kurds (who, though mostly Sunni, are non-Arab, and have been the chief victims of Sunni Arabs). Thus, presto-magico, it seems that the Sunnis have some kind of divine right to rule.
In some Sunni countries, the division of the world is between Muslim, Shi’a, and Infidel, with the Shi’a not accorded the full status of Muslim, but not — save in the wilder desert shores of Saudi Arabia and those who follow it — outright called Infidels. But the Jordanian-born Palestinian Zarqawi certainly calls all Shi’a Infidels — and we know what that implies for how they are to be treated, and indeed are being treated.
Nor do the Shi’a want, in the abstract, something called “democracy.” They want power. They constitute 60% of the population. Hence “democracy” for them, as so far interpreted, means power for the Shi’a. That’s it. The Shi’a did not march off to express their faith in democracy, that universal yearning for freedom that Bush keeps telling us is a feature common to all men. He has it wrong. He assumes that culture (in the anthropological sense) does not matter. But many men, and women, especially those raised in Islam, by Islam, for Islam (which alas shall not perish from the earth), yearn not for individualism but for Belonging to the Ummah, for the Belonging that depends on others Not Belonging, and that those others are the Infidels, and Americans are among them.
No, Bush posits the kind of world one hears about in the most banal of commencement speech addresses, or those essays on What Democracy Means to Me that used to be assigned in eighth-grade civics classes, and which, while often touching (especially if written by a real refugee from a hellhole), are not the stuff that should be filling the mind of someone whose duty it is to craft coherent policies based on reality, not on the pieties of some Citizenship Day at Ellis Island, circa 1930.
The Shi’a do not want democracy any more than the Sunnis. Rephrased, this becomes: If the Shi’a want democracy more than the Sunnis in Iraq, it is only because there are more of them. The big-shots in Washington who are now disposing of the fates of all those American soldiers should get the drift, learn to deal with Islam, and stop believing in this cockamamie Light-Unto-the-Muslim Nations business.
Stick to this:
1) Get out of Iraq, using the December elections as the terminus ad quem — the point when the American Timothy gives the Iraqi Dumbo the magic feather, and tells him “Good Luck” and “I’m sure you can fly” and then leaves.
2) Offer hint-hint nudge-nudge support to the Kurds who, in Kurdistan, are not exactly pleased with the compromises the Kurds in Baghdad have made. Begin reading Turkey the riot act. At the same time suggest that a free Kurdistan’s boundaries would never include parts of Anatolia — “we garontee” in a Cajun accent — as long as Turkey, which now has nowhere else to turn (certainly not to wary and hostile Europe), leaves Kurdistan alone. Explain to the Turks that in the end they may find that the pressure a free Kurdistan puts on Syria and Iran can work to Turkey’s advantage. Explain that the Americans have been deeply disappointed in Turkey, which relies for military equipment, training and resupply (of spare parts, for example) entirely on the Americans, and that things will go hard for them if they do not collaborate –that the failure to allow that fourth division in from the north was the last, no the antepenultimate straw. The penultimate straw has been the last two years of vilification of the United States in the Turkish press, and the final straw has been the attempt to punish Orhan Pamuk on the little unforgotten matter of the Armenian massacres — which Turkey sooner or later must own up to. Turkey should, if it is clever and wishes to encourage secularism, correctly attribute the genocide not to “Turks” but rather to a campaign engaged in by “Turks and Kurds and Arabs” — for until they reached the safe havens of Christian parts of Aleppo and Beirut, those Armenian refugees in the Syrian Desert were subject to rape and looting by local Arabs, something that those Armenians who found haven in Lebanon and Syria have preferred not to look at too closely. And those Turks, Kurds, and Arabs, they can say, were all “misusing” (uh-huh) Islam to attack “Christian” Armenians — not because they were Armenians, but because they were Christians, and sufficiently numerous, so the Muslim Turks thought, to constitute a threat to Muslims and the right order of things.
The Americans are not making Iraq safe for democracy. They are helping the Sh’a suppress the Sunnis. They are training what they like to call, insist upon calling, an “Iraqi” army but it is nothing of the kind, and cannot be. This army, and these police, are almost entirely Shi’a and Kurd. And so the Americans are now engaged in raising up a Shi’a army to better defend itself against the Sunnis. At the same time, Iranian agents in Iraq are also training Shi’a. So here we have the Americans doing the work of the Iranians, though Iran and Saudi Arabia, are the most powerful and dangerous supporters of Jihad in the world. And Iran has that science project that must be damaged, if not completely destroyed.
The American government can prate about “democracy” all it wants. It certainly keeps it from analyzing the nature of the problem, a problem that does not come from “a handful of extremists.” Attention to Iraq, and repetition of this phrase “war on terror,” obscures reality. If all we are worried about is a “war on terror,” then, provided only those caught in terrorist acts or overt support for such acts are deported, we should not care one whit about the islamization of Europe.
Well, do you care or don’t you care about the islamization of Europe? If you regard it with horror, as a civilizational threat akin only to that of a permanent Nazi victory over Europe, then you should be furious at the continued refusal even to hint, synecdochically, at the belief-system that has been strengthened, rather than weakened, in Iraq itself.
There was only one reason to go to Iraq that made sense: to destroy all major weaponry and weapons programs, because it was unclear exactly what Saddam Hussein possessed, or was in the process of producing. That’s it.
The squandering of resources — men, materiel, money, morale of soldiers and civilians, at the very moment when they need to be carefully husbanded for a new policy of containment (this time, of Islam) that will need to be conducted over many decades, and perhaps without any end in sight — is maddening.
It maddens me.
Does it madden you?