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Gazing into the Abyss: Michael Rawdon's Journal


The End of Iraq

I don't often write about politics in this journal, although I do have plenty of opinions (some of them quite strong). But politics doesn't really consume my life, nor is it really even a significant hobby of mine, so it doesn't really show up here much. But sometimes it's worth making an exception

For a few years that the Democrats have had a difficult problem in trying to respond to the Bush-led Republican drive to invade and occupy the nation of Iraq and reform it into... something. My perception is that the Democratic response to this situation has boiled down to, "Well, we wouldn't have gone in there in the first place! It was a bad idea!" Unfortunately, presented with the fait accompli of the situation, saying "we wouldn't have done it" isn't really viable leadership. This has reduced the Democratic response - in practice, at least - to one which the Republicans have successfully spun as "cutting and running".

It's a dilemma.

This morning on NPR I heard this article by Peter Galbraith, a former US ambassador and author of The End of Iraq, about the situation in that nation, and it was a revelation to me.

It seems to me - and admittedly, I'm no professional, that Galbraith has hit the nail on the head: The partitioning of Iraq into three groups - the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shiites - has already happened, and that the last two groups are engaged in a civil war. The Kurds have essentially created their own nation, and forming any two (or all three) of these groups into a single, democratic Iraqi nation is essentially doomed to failure.

Therefore, the American action in Iraq should be to move these three groups towards creating three relatively stable nations, with a minimum of bloodshed. This simple statement is surely far too naive and vastly understates the realm of possibilities (the Shiite region could be absorbed by Iran, the Shiites could refuse to form their own government and wage an ongoing war with the Sunnis, Turkey - for instance - could utterly oppose an independent Kurdistan and could further muddy the waters), but the current situation seems completely untenable and moving towards a situation which seems only potentially untenable seems like it's got to be an improvement.

The Bush administration surely will not (and perhaps can not) take these steps as it is essentially an admission of failure of its mission. But I think the Democrats (and whichever few Republicans exist in Congress at this point who would be open to negotiation) should consider this approach as an alternative strategy, as it moves the US towards a withdrawal with a goal in mind, as opposed to the pointless, bloodyminded wallowing which the current administration has the country engaged in over there.

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