Monday, September 17, 2007

Will Americans Even Accept An Iraqi Political Solution?

One of the greatest failings from the perspective of anyone you ask about Iraq is the lack of a political settlement. Not only is there no political settlement, there is very little prospect going forward that one will ever be reached. In my view this is particularly true so long as American forces continue occupying Iraq.

The over arching question which must be answered is this: Would it be possible for the United States to facilitate a political solution which was contrary to our own interests?

If Americans can not be expected to fight and die for a solution which harms our own interests, we must conclude that any possible political solution while we occupy Iraq must follow principles which most people in Iraq find objectionable.

The Presidents stated goal for Iraq is a stable democratic government which acts as an ally in the war on terror. This sounds good to western ears, and it would be fantastic if the Iraqi people saw fit to see things our way on this. But the fact is that Arabian nations which ally with the United States are invariably ruled by the decree of strongmen. The unfortunate fact is that middle eastern Muslim nations which allow real voting inevitably elect those most opposed to American and Israeli interests as an expression of the will of the people. How can the U.S. ever hope to find a political solution in a middle eastern democracy if the people vote for our enemies every chance they get?

In his last speech the President mentioned Iran multiple times, saying that a successful Iraq will be a regional counterweight to Iranian interests. Iran may be the foremost sponsor of terrorism across the globe from the wests point of view, but the notion that a democratic government in Baghdad will stand in opposition to Iran thereby allying with us in the struggle against terrorism is frankly laughable. The very weak central government of Iraq has already shown their willingness to deal with Iran by reaching security agreements and being very friendly with the Iranians. The Maliki government is democratically reflecting the will of the majority of Iraqi's, who are Shiite, and that popular will hardly meshes with the final Iraqi model as wished for by President Bush.

Meanwhile the Sunni's have decided to stop making life so miserable for Americans in the Sunni triangle because they know that if we withdraw they are going to wind up on the wrong side of a bloody cataclysm. But the fact is that Sunni's, by a wide margin still believe that killing American soldiers in Iraq is justified. So long as their interests roughly parallel American interests we will probably have a relative calm in the triangle, but as soon as that perception changes who believes that the calm will remain?

Even the Kurds are playing a hand which holds their own interests above the interests of a democratic Iraq. They didn't go to Maliki for approval of their own separate deal on the oil they controlled. Are we to believe that the funds they get from that deal will be divided equally between the Kurds, Shiite and Sunni? Please!

The basic problem here is that there is no political solution that America would find acceptable which the Iraqi's would reach on their own free will. Every solution acceptable to the west at this point must be enforced through occupation. Even this use of force to reach our objectives is weakening because we can not send in the hundreds of thousands we would need to really clamp down. The political will of the Maliki government, which we ostensibly support, is undermined by our continued occupation. They are not even allowed to rule that a company can not work inside their own borders if Americans want hire that company. Can you imagine a similar situation inside our own borders, or the borders of any nation which is sovereign for that matter?

When we recognize that there can be no western based solution leading to lasting stability in Iraq then we will be that much closer to coming to terms with the solution which one day will bring stability to that land. Stability so long as we are willing to accept the solutions Iraqi's and their neighbors determine for their own region. The only line in the sand which American politicians should draw on the final outcome is that there not be terrorist camps in Iraq at the end of the day. With that concession we should let the Iraqi's reach the political solutions they can find on their own hook.

Let me welcome Crooks and Liars readers.
Uh, I think you should mention the word oil. I know it's considered rude with all the discussion of WMD and democracy but what the hell do you think we're there for anyway?
I agree, (as does Greenspan) that oil played and plays a major role in the Iraq debacle. I just think it goes without saying that if Americans are going to accept a political settlement that can be reached between the people of the region that our say so on Iraqi oil would be forfeit. As would our say so on what alliances are formed and who is or is not a friend of Israel after all is said and done. I'm just saying that a true political settlement means America relinquishing our claims on these issues in whole. As I said in the post, the only stricture which Americans should have on the political settlement which will lead to a stable Iraq is that there be no terrorist camps allowed after we leave.
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