Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald explains why Iraq cannot be made into a model anything:
Before, or at least while, history is rewritten, and the Americans and other Infidels are somehow blamed for any future Sunni-Shi’a clash, let’s get it straight. For 1300 years or so the Sunnis have been attacking the Shi’a. The doctrine of “taqiyya” originates in the Shi’a attempt to protect themselves not from Infidels, but from Sunnis. Many Sunni Muslims talk of “Muslims and Shi’a,” with the latter not exactly read out of Islam altogether, but not quite in.
In Pakistan the Shi’a have for decades been attacked by Sunnis — we just haven’t, in the outside world, been noticing.
In Iraq itself, as Gertrude Bell’s Letters from the 1920s make clear, the Shi’a were not happy. They were distinctly unhappy with having to endure a Sunni-dominated government. That Sunni-dominated government never did play fair either with the Kurds or with the Shi’a. Now the Shi’a, being the poorer group, have outbred (as poorer people tend to) the Sunnis, and their share of the population has steadily increased. They endured mass murder by Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-officer-led forces in 1991, and before, and also after.
If they have refrained from major counterattack, it is for two reasons. One, the Americans are there to attack the Sunnis, and to take casualties for them — if possible, let the Americans do it. Second, the whole martyrdom business upon which Shi’s Islam rests, martyrdom-cum-inshallah-fatalism, powerfully works against taking action. But this is not universally true. Shi’a clerics can be far from passive when it comes to acknowledged Infidels — see the speech of Ayatollah Khomeini (way back in 1942) about the duty, both a business and a pleasure, of killing Infidels. Not exactly the counsel of a Buddhist monk.
Why note all this now? Because the Americans will, and should, soon leave — in a month, after the October referendum, or in December, after the elections, or when it finally becomes obvious even to Bush that this “staying the course” business makes no sense. Intelligent rulers are constantly changing course, turning the wheel of the ship of state to avoid now this iceberg, and that sudden storm, this way, and now that. In the midst of World War II, all sorts of plans were changed depending on changed circumstances. It was during the disastrous World War I that no one changed course, that everyone sat in the trenches, and died, died, died, to no good effect.
And after they do, after the Sunnis and Shi’a are left alone with each other, all sorts of things may happen. And not one of them will have been America’s fault. For right up until now, the American effort has been — innocently, obstinately, crazily, stupidly, self-defeatingly — to create a new “Iraq,” an “Iraqi” army, and an “Iraqi” people. This is a dream, based on meetings with a handful of the most unrepresentative, advanced, westernized, clever, and charming, almost entirely Shi’a Iraqis: Allawi, Rend al-Rahim Francke, Chalabi, Kanan Makiya. These people spent much time abroad, and may have more in common with the slightly more secular bent of the Ba’athist Sunnis, and have downplayed entirely the sectarian resentments which grew and grew under Saddam Hussein. It is true that that despot’s regime was terrifying, and in reverse-Coueism, got worse every day in every way. Yet the Sunnis who suffered from him have now started to regret not him, but the overthrow of a Sunni-dominated regime. They dread their perceived loss of power, influence, and money. While Saddam Hussein was bullying and murdering, sectarian resentments could be directed at the regime, and also held in check by that same regime. As soon as that regime was ended, and as soon as it became clear that no other Sunni-dominated regime would replace it, everything changed. It was not a diabolical plot of the Americans. Not at all.
In fact, to pluck this nettle victory from the current situation in Iraq — this can only happen if what victory must mean is kept in mind. What does “victory” mean? It must mean something that helps to diminish the power of Islam, the appeal of Islam, the triumphalism of Islam, and the superficial unity of Islam. And how can that be best achieved in Iraq? By American force of arms? No, by Americans leaving — as quickly as possible.
What will then happen? No one knows. Perhaps lions will settle down with lambs. Perhaps the lion over here, in this part of the veldt, becomes a lamb over there, or at least a gazelle, and vice-versa. Perhaps everything will settle down, just as the Administration apparently things would be a Good Thing. Perhaps there will be years of tension, with nothing settled. Perhaps there will be open warfare, but limited to the forces within Iraq. Perhaps there will be open warfare, steadily widening, with aid coming in from both Iran on one side and Sunni Arab states on the other. Who cares? As long as the tensions remain, and the fissures remain and widen, that is a good thing.
And while the two kinds of Arabs are battling it out, this may be the time for a free Kurdistan to be declared, and to be seen by one and all to have a certain amount of “protection” from an America that at long last realizes not the morality of the whole business, but the geopolitical sense that the attainment of independence by any non-Arab Muslim people, who have endured the Arab supremacist ideology within Islam, will mean for weakening Islam, at a time when it needs to be visibly weakened, divided, and demoralized.
But this will be achieved not by design, but by accident — by finally realizing, after a few years of squandering resources, that Iraq cannot be made into a model anything, that if it were to become a model anything the mere attempt would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, thousands of lives, the destruction of the National Guard and Reserves, the demoralization of all the thinking members of the regular army, and in the general population, an increase in the unwillingness to fight at all, in any way, against the instruments of Jihad, at the very moment when resolution, not collapse, is called for.
Perhaps stumble-bumming its way finally to escape from the clutches of its own rhetoric that pursues it, the Administration will get out — and it will be a sweet victory, for none of its traditional detractors will have any justification, given as they are on record as having again and again urged the Americans to leave, to turn around and now insist that they stay.
But that won’t stop them from trying.