Friday, February 24, 2006

It's time

In which M2 goes way off-topic

It’s time to call it quits on Iraq. No, I don’t mean that it’s time to bring the troops home in defeat, but to call it quits on Iraq as a viable nation-state. As vividly illustrated by the Golden Mosque bombing and its bloody aftermath, sectarian violence in Iraq has become increasingly bitter, savage and sadistic. It seems that the country is in the midst of a bourgeoning civil war, and our troops are caught in the middle.

To avoid a drawn-out, brutalizing struggle that will likely end in the breakup of Iraq, anyway, it’s time partition the country into its major ethnic and historical territories: the Kurdish north (Kurdistan), the Sunni-dominated middle, (Mesopotamia) and the Shiite south (Sumer). Some coalition forces would remain – perhaps with the assistance from NATO and the U.N. – as peacekeepers. They would also insure that oil revenues would be divided equitably among all parties, and keep a close watch on Iran and Syria, so that they don’t meddle in these emerging nations’ internal affairs.

Partition has worked in other places – the former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, for example – albeit with varying degrees of success. In Israel-Palestine the policy of separation has, at least for the time being, lead to a decrease in violence.

To continue a policy of nation-building out of peoples as hostile to one another as they clearly are in Iraq seems foolish in the extreme. It took the kings of France more than 500 years of authoritarian rule to build a nation out of the peoples of Gaul. The British Empire was in India nearly 350 years before the nationality we know today as “Indian” began to emerge. Saddam Hussein and the Ba’athists failed forge a nation out of Iraq in 30 years of brutal dictatorship.

Some, typically, will point to Japan and Germany as successful efforts in building democratic, peaceful and economically successful nations. But Japan has had a distinct and largely homogeneous identity for a millennium, and the Germans, already very similar in culture and language, were forged into a nation by the Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, the Franco-Prussian war and two world wars.

It’s time we Americans realize that, unless we are willing to take on a truly imperial role in the region and commit lives and treasure to it for countless years to come, at least, we cannot hope to weld the factions of Iraq together into a distinct nationality, much less a peaceful and democratic people.

Will partition guarantee a total cessation of violence? There are no guarantees. But is it worth the life of one more American soldier, sailor, or airman to defend a failed policy that if continued is bound to get many, many more killed, maimed or wounded and result in more of the quasi-religious barbarism to which we are all now daily witnesses? I say we need to try another course, and partition in the clearest choice.


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