Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald assesses Iraq’s Constitutional referendum:
Democracy in the Western sense requires much more than mere head-counting. It requires the sense of being a citizen of a nation-state, and owing one’s primary allegiance to that nation-state. It requires getting used to the idea, and enshrining in the law, the rights of minorities. It requires a belief in the legitimacy of government being derived from the consent of the governed. It requires all sorts of things, all of which are missing in Iraq.
Who are the Shi’a who marched off to vote in favor of the Constitution? Many of them cannot read, most of them have not read, and almost all of those who have read that Constitution have little idea of its full significance or whether or not it has permanent significance. They voted yes because they were told to do so.
The word “democracy” is tossed about by some in the Administration in a display of bland indifference, or deliberate confusion, as to what that word means in the United States, or the United Kingdom, or Australia, as compared to what it means, and must mean, to those within Islam — unless those within Islam have for a very long time been subject to a regime in which Islam is deliberately constrained and pushed as far as possible out of its traditional political and social role (as in Turkey, where it is Kemalism that is now shaky, and Islam back, as it must be, with a vengeance).
While the Shi’a marched off dutifully to ensure that they will rule, the Sunnis were divided. They were divided not on ultimate aims, but on means. Many abstained, not wishing to recognize that the Old Order not only passeth, but had passed, and there was nothing they could do about it. Many voted not in order to support the Constitution (though there may have been a few) but in order to defeat it. It was not a question of differences in attitude, but in goals. And according to reports, many Sunnis are convinced that they, the Sunni Arabs (leaving aside the Kurds, who are Sunni Muslims), constitute fully 42% of the population, when their numbers are in reality not half that. It is the kind of crazed belief that arises naturally, like all sorts of conspiracy theories, among people for whom critical thought and the habit of skepticism is crushed by the atmospherics and attitudes of Islam, so that what is true is never believed, and what is false will always find believers, from the street crowd insisting that the Americans deliberately lured children with candy in order to murder them, to those who believe that the Americans have engaged in a vast and clever plan to dismember Iraq when, as we all know, the Americans have tried in every way they can to make Iraq hold together. Though it made little sense in furthering Infidel interests, that is what the Americans have done and continue to do — though one hopes they will soon stop, and realize that much more is to be gained by leaving Iraq, leaving those in Iraq alone, and hoping that some kind of low-level equivalent of the Iran-Iraq War can go on forever.
The very idea of elections may inspire a few of those who would like, in other Arab countries, to somehow get rid of their local despots, whether in Arab “republics” (as all non-monarchies are called in that world) or in monarchies. But for everyone inspired by those “elections” there are twenty who are horrified because the “election” in this case, in Iraq the Model, is merely bringing to power the Shi’a — and they, of course, have no right in Sunni eyes to rule. It is the Sunni Muslims, being the real thing, the realer or realest of Muslims, who must rule — even if one does not always go so far as to agree with the Wahhabi view (and not only the Wahhabi view) that Shi’a are not only Infidels, but even worse, as “Rafidite dogs,” than ordinary Infidels.
Meanwhile, the Kurds voted for the Constitution, but with a turnout (60-70%) that was far less than that last January, when during the elections (my, elections after elections after elections, Democracy Is Surely On the March in Iraq the Model) more than 90% of the Kurds voted. This was probably because they were voting at the same time, in their own referendum, on whether they wanted an independent Kurdistan: 98% voted yes, but you will not have read much, if anything, being said about this by the Administration. The Kurds voted for the Constitution because at the moment it fits what they can demand, but that vote should not be misinterpreted as meaning they have given up the desire for independence.
Of course the Bush Administration would like to read this differently. Still, it has managed to curb its enthusiasm but not, apparently, its crazed intention to continue to work in Iraq for the very things that, from the point of view of those who understand the full menace of Islam, make no sense. Instead of allowing the Shi’a to deal with the Sunni who have a history of oppressing them, and whose attitude shows they have no intention of accepting Shi’a dominance, and believe that they, who have prospered not only under Saddam Hussein, but under all the previous Iraqi regimes, have a perfect right to continue, by hook or by crook, to rule, we want to make everyone make nice. American soldiers now are being killed and wounded in order to make Sunni and Shi’a collaborate in an Iraqi nation-state.
Instead of seeing an independent Kurdistan, which should be if not openly encouraged at least covertly encouraged, the American government seems to have put that idea out of its head. One assumes this reflects its own fear that it cannot, simply cannot, deal with Turkey. But this is silly. Turkey is alone. Turkey needs the United States more now than ever. Its most intelligent class realizes that it will be difficult, or impossible, to get into the E.U., and also knows that the supposed lure of a link with the Islamic world — the despised Arabs — would undo whatever progress Turkey has made since the 1920s. They also know that the Kurdish population in Turkey cannot necessarily be trusted to remain passive should Turkey attempt to squash an independent Kurdish state, with all the significance that holds for Kurds outside the state.
It should not be beyond the wit of the American government, for many decades the closest military and diplomatic ally of Turkey, to note the import of the fact that it is currently the recipient of an attempt by Turkey to make up for the hideous treatment in the Turkish press of the United States (which has not gone unnoticed here), the refusal to allow the fourth American division enter Iraq from Turkey, and other behavior — all this has caused the famous Turkish lobby in Washington to more or less disappear. The United States has no need for Turkey, but Turkey, in the long run, needs to maintain good relations with the United States and, for that matter, with those same Europeans who, while rejecting Turkish admission to the E.U., will continue to buy goods and services (tourism) and cannot be alienated.
A Kurdish state will do much to heighten consciousness of the problem of Arab supremacist ideology, and of the suppressed cultural and linguistic and political rights not only of Kurds, but of Berbers in North Africa, of black but non-Arab Muslims in Darfur, and even of disaffected Iranians. They may find it easier to leave Islam if within Iran Islam becomes more and more to be seen not as a universalist creed but as a vehicle for arabization. The Persian contempt for Arabs can be enrolled in the more important task, for Iranians who have experienced the Islamic Republic of Iran and never want to have such an experience repeated, of de-legitimizing Islam as something inflicted by desert Arabs on civilized Iranians.
But none of this seems to have penetrated to official Washington. There need be no open statement that the Americans are now rubbing their hands in glee and wishing for a collapse of Iraq. Nothing like it. Simply declare that with the next election, it will be time to leave. It will be time for the “Iraqis themselves” to take charge. It will be time to end the “dependency” that this “proud people” in this “ancient and historic land” (go ahead if you wish — pile on the nonsense yourself) might otherwise “develop” if we Americans, “who wish Iraq and the Iraqi people well” (if one really wished them well, one would wish them able to constrain or to throw off Islam, but that of course cannot be said publicly), do not now leave, “at long last, having accomplished so much” and “trained so many Iraqis,” and “given them new hope to forge their own destinies.”
And leave. With only some weaponry, possibly, “pre-positioned” at a base in — Kurdistan. And only there. And then see what happens.
Will the “Iraqi people” be “true to themselves?” I think so. And will Iranian “volunteers” and money help one side, and Sunni volunteers and money help the opposing side, thereby using up at least some of the energy, attention, and discretionary income that goes into such things as WMD projects, and support for terrorism and that other instrument of Jihad, Da’wa (the Call to Islam) world-wide?
One can only hope.