“What we left behind” Filkins


"The resurgence of Iraq’s Shiites is the greatest legacy of the American invasion, which overthrew Sunni rule and replaced it with a government led by Shiites—the first since the eighteenth century. Eight years after Maliki took power, Iraqis are sorting through the consequences. The Green Zone—still known by its English name—has the same otherworldly feel that it did during the American war: a placid, manicured outpost in a jungle of trouble. Now, though, it is essentially a bastion of Shiite power, in a country shot through with angry Sunni citizens. Politicians hustle from meeting to meeting, rarely venturing past the gates. When I asked Yasin Majid, a member of parliament, to meet me for coffee, he said, “I don’t want to come out of the Green Zone.”"  Filkins


This is what happens when one country invades and occupies another for ideological reasons with the intention of creating a social revolution.  In the case of US meddling in Iraq all that we succeeded in doing is reversal of the social order by placing the Shia on top of the "hill" of political power in a position which the Sunni Arabs do not accept.   

At first the Sunni Arabs fought the occupation and the destruction of the state they had known, but in the end the US succeeded in obtaining the cooperation of many Sunni Arabs against AQ in Iraq. AQ made that possible by behaving in an absolutist manner in inflicting their version of Islam on daily life in the areas they controlled.  This did not have anything to do with the COIN nonsense or the "surge." This outcome was a "gift" from AQ, a gift that was  skillfully exploited by many relatively junior soldiers who recognized the opportunity.  As in all such operations money always greases the wheels of fortune.  Petraeus deserves some credit for funding their efforts but the notion that he was the wizard of the COIN magic is just ludicrous. 

Unfortunately, the ideology of neoconism still persisted after the Sunni tribes had turned the tide against AQ and the US remained obstinately convinced that the Shia government would be able to obtain the loyalty of the Sunni Arabs as well as the Kurds.   That was not to be because in the main the Shia Arabs considered the Sunni Arabs the enemies of their blood.

The Bush Administration had invaded Iraq in a state of deliberate ignorance of the cultures and history of the place.  It was not that there was no expertise in the American government concerning Iraq, but that expertise was resolutely rejected by the Bush Administration. The Bush/Cheney/neocon clique believed that past institutions and beliefs were irrelevant in the world they believed they would create. They think mankind is evolving socially and will abandon old ways if given the chance to do so.

When given the chance by the "Sons of Iraq" to return to the fantasy of social revolution, the US project in Iraq abandoned the the "Sons Of Iraq" to the mercies of the Shia sectarian politicians who seem not to have evolved much in their hatred of the Sunni Arabs.

Have we learned anything from the sorry experiment in Iraq?

Evidently, we have not.  Victoria Nuland is Assistant Secretary of State for Europe.  pl  


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4 Responses to “What we left behind” Filkins

  1. Alba Etie says:

    We need to listen very carefully to the debate in the GOP primary – the libertarian wing therein may be our best bet at clipping the wings of Ms Nuland and her other cohorts. Sen Rand Paul appears to be an abler politician then I first thought. Not only did he call out Cheney et al on the Iraq cluster f–ck , he also wants to audit the federal reserve .

  2. Fred says:

    What was the line from Joyce “It is sometimes as painful to be awoken from a vision as it is to be born”? Well we are hearing the howls of anguish from the R2P/neocon elites as they are awakening from their bliss filled dream. Meanwhile that thing that was slouching towards Bethlehem to be born – well it has some siblings – in Baghdad, Homs and Kiev.

  3. The beaver says:

    Have you seen the latest from the R2P mother?
    “Putin may believe, as Western powers have repeatedly told their own citizens, that NATO forces will never risk the possibility of nuclear war by deploying in Ukraine. Perhaps not. But the Russian forces destabilizing eastern Ukraine wear no insignia. Mystery soldiers can fight on both sides.”

  4. PS says:

    What a depressing story. The Bush II administration was so desperate to find a solution that they put Allawi into office despite his past, and the Obama administration was in such a hurry to get out of Iraq that they cemented his grip on power.

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