Ignatius on the Obvious in Iraq

"Iran's links with Maliki are so close, said this Iraqi intelligence source, that the prime minister uses an Iranian jet with an Iranian crew for his official travel. The Iranians are said to have sent Maliki an offer to help his Dawa Party win at least 49 seats in January's parliamentary elections if Maliki will make changes in his government that Iran wants.

As security unravels in Iraq, U.S. forces there are mostly bystanders. Even in the areas where al-Qaeda operatives remain potent, such as Mosul, the Americans have little control. Sunni terrorists who are arrested are quickly released by the Iraqis in exchange for bribes of up to $100,000, according to an Iraqi source.

Should the Americans try to restore order? The top Iraqi intelligence source answered sadly that it was probably wiser to "stay out of it and be safe." When pressed about what his country would look like in five years, absent American help, he answered bluntly: "Iraq will be a colony of Iran." "  Ignatius


Iraq-valentine Now, let's see…  The United States insisted on country wide elections on the basis of "one man, one vote."  Iraq's Arab Shia are a majority.  The elections yielded governments that were dominated by Shia with lifetime records as religiously focused politicians.  There were other Shia politicians in the elections who were essentially secular nationalists.  The United States favored them and hoped for their election.  Many people in the US smugly expected that these secularists would be elected with a little help from their friends.  They were wrong.  The secularists were badly defeated.  The Shia voted for the religious (dare I say Islamist?) politicians.  Al-Maliki has a lifelong record of Islamist activity and friendly relations with Iran.

Islam teaches that life is a "seamless garment."   For pious Muslims a separation of religious and political concerns is an unacceptable and alien Western notion.  In spite of all the pre-war nonsense about how secularized and "modern" Iraqis are, many Iraqis are quite traditional in their thinking.  They voted in accordance with their true beliefs.  The result is a government that feels a close affinity to the theocracy in Iran.  That does not mean that they are looking to see some sort of union between the two countries or that they want to see Iranian soldiers in Iraq.

The existence of this kind of government is a direct result of American policy in Iraq.  We made this bed, now we must lie in it, at least until we are gone.

Ignatius claims that he could not see this coming?  pl

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Ignatius on the Obvious in Iraq

  1. Ignatius claims that he could not see this coming? pl
    Most Americans presume that foreigners want what we want.
    This manifests itself in a “supply-side” foreign policy, where we go around building, attempting to build, or at least purporting to build a middle class, liberal society as that term might be understood by Ignatius, et. al.. “If we build it, they will come.”
    Of course, foreigners do not want what we want; they want what they want.
    This a demand side, not a supply side, problem. We need to learn from them what they want; not educate them according to what we think they need. “They will not come unless we build it right.”
    Incidentally, this also explains our balance of payments problems. We can retool Detroit into making hyper-widgets, and we can drill pre-schoolers into advanced calculus. But unless the rest of the world wants and needs hyper-widgets and number-crunching 5-year-olds, we’re wasting our time.

  2. Farmer Don says:

    “We made this bed, now we must lie in it, at least until we are gone.”
    As a complete non military person, I wonder what the actual withdrawl will look like? Is it going to be a kind of reverse of the invasion, with a long preparation phase, and then a quick, huge caravan of troops and equipment heading out of the country? Is equipment moving out of the country now in the empty return supply planes and trucks? What equipment will be left? What will be destroyed? What will be left for the Iraq government?
    I know it’s a lazy pupil who just asks for answers with out doing his own research, but how do you see the logistics of the withdrawl?

  3. cha says:

    The Shittes insisted on “one man, one vote” not the Americans. They were forced into it. Plan was to do the same as with Japan and Germany. Rule it for +/-5 years and than let the country elect your man. If necessary by playing false.
    This didn’t happen because the Shiites threatened a full time rebellion. Something which makes selling “we came here to bring democracy” a bit hard. It would still be possible to execute the old plan with a possible victory in Iraq but it would mean a complete lose in the rest of the world

  4. Patrick Lang says:

    What’s the evidence that we did that in Germany and Japan? As for Iraq what’s the evidence for the assertion that we did that there as well.
    I know a lot of people who were participants in the CPA political process and none of them would agree with you. pl

  5. Patrick Lang says:

    The shape and scope of the materiel evacusation in the withdrawal will depend largely on the circumstances and the length of time available.
    If the US military departs on Obama’s end of 2011 schedule then a lot of major end items will be evacuated for re-build, if not… pl

  6. Actually we (the US) still does not have one man [or woman] vote despite SCOTUS rulings. Why, the so-called “Great Compromise” whereby small states got two US Senators which many studies have showed are less than representative of the majority of votes of either party. OKay so what now! Personally I would move any remaining forces to Kurdistan and Jordan as soon as possible. A newly rearmed and militant Iraq under other than SADDAM leadership and trained by opposing US Forces for over 1/2 a decade is likely to become a superpower whether with or without IRAN in the equation of that part of the world. The only significant liklihood of that not happening is the fact that almost 6 million Iraqis have fled most with the thought “never again will I live in Iraq”! “I [the Iraqi refugees]was lucky to escape with my life and family or whatever.” The US could have insisted on a secular government and rights for women but chose not to do so. The theme of developing democracy died with those policy failures.

  7. Matthew says:

    Colonel, can you recommend a single source that will explain the organization of the US Army. I read a Wiki on the USA and do not understand the structure of “combat teams” versus brigades, etc.

  8. par4 says:

    Where’s Kurdistan? It’s part of Iraq. Jordan? I don’t think so. I know of no country in the area that wants that many American troops stationed there. Out should mean home to the US.

  9. anna missed says:

    Ignatius claims that he could not see this coming? pl
    Back when Iranian “special groups” was all the rage, I called my congressional representative and asked why the U.S. was supporting the Maliki government that itself was backed by SCIRI, which was formed and continued to be supported/funded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards – an organization that said congress just labeled a terrorist group.
    The Congressional office, of course, hadn’t the foggiest notion of what I was talking about because it was never considered as part of the official grand narrative of what we were really doing in Iraq and its likely consequences.

  10. cha says:

    Germany regained its sovereignty in 1949, Japan in 1952. Both German poltical parties were anti Sovjet so no need to mess with it (though they still did a little bit) In Japan they made sure that the LDP was formed.

  11. Brett J says:

    Really, it’s sad. What’s worse, No Hope or False Hope? Either we’ve prompted the latter for the Iraqi people, or they’re getting just what they wanted … and not what we wanted for them.

  12. Jose says:

    Islam teaches that life is a “seamless garment.” For pious Muslims a separation of religious and political concerns is an unacceptable and alien Western notion. In spite of all the pre-war nonsense about how secularized and “modern” Iraqis are, many Iraqis are quite traditional in their thinking. They voted in accordance with their true beliefs. The result is a government that feels a close affinity to the theocracy in Iran.
    Col., I think you and several Middle East “experts” said something to that effect before the war, so why are people surprised?
    What is surprising, is that we are not applying that knowledge to Afghanistan or Pakistan.
    To all, the Kurds have been on friendly terms with the Persians since Cyrus the Great, I’m almost sure that we are not wanted in Medea.
    Just my two cents…

  13. John Waring says:

    How could someone not see that the destruction of Saddam Hussein and Sunni power in Iraq, would put Iran in the catbird seat?

  14. Charles I says:

    William R., even had the U.S. chosen to insist on a secular government and women’s rights, truly, the opportunity for that passed with the looting so long ago. You don’t write “impose”, and of course that’s my point.
    Shock and awe are the only things that could be imposed on Iraq. All the rest requires the locals, as they’ve so amply demonstrated. There’s no democracy without some minimum level of security so the immediate disbanding of the Iraqi military – many of whom promptly took and took to arms – put paid to that imho.
    I agree entirely on your subsequent point,but I trust the Iranians will prove defter in Iraq than America has been.
    As for how could ANYBODY not see Iran “in the catbird seat” as the result, well, last year we were defending Georgia from itself, the Russians and South Ossetians fer chrissakes. Some diabolically human vector of ignorance, hubris and opprtunity is the usual mens rea for such fiascos.

  15. confusedponderer says:

    you greatly oversimplify.
    The two major parties in West Germany of 1949, when the first post war elections were held were the Christian Democratic party CDU, then led by Konrad Adenauer, and the Social Democratic party SPD. The CDU emerged from the older Catholic party Zentrum; the Social Democrats were established in 1875. Germany didn’t have much success in democracy during the first half of the 20th century, but the parties of 1949 were home-grown and not American constructs, nor were their functionaries US puppets.
    Adenauer, the first chancellor was, while staunchly anti-Soviet, not necessarily America’s man, but he shared America’s anti-communist stance. The Social Democrat’s of 1949 were then a socialist party under the leadership of Kurt Schumacher. Schumacher was certainly not America’s candidate, nor Moscow’s for that matter.
    It is probably so that the US helped the CDU covertly – but they didn’t give Germany the choice between two ‘US candidates’.
    Eventually, Germany only became a fully sovereign country again in 1990 with the two-plus-four treaty, as it is called in Germany. Before that date Germany was not a fully sovereign country.

  16. 4,000 years of a culture of court politics has well prepared the Iranians to outsmart the US. Hey they look sort of like US but they are definitely in the broadest tradition of oriental (not pc I know) Asian skill at duplicity and other necessities of international life. The big puppy dog (the US) of course can only wag its tail (tale)!

  17. Charles I! The wing nuts kept US from disarming Iraqis. PL says it was not possible and I say it was. WE adopted a shoot to kill policy in Japan and Germany for anyone carrying weapons after a short very short period of holdharmless.

  18. Patrick Lang says:

    We may have had a rule like that in Germany but it wasn’t effective. A lot of Germans kept and held guns, especially old prized shotguns, etc. There were also Luger pistols, Walthers, etc. in wide supply and the woods and fields were full of dumped German military weapons. American soldiers had a good time buying souvenir Lugers from the Germans. I may have mentioned this before but my little American and German friends were often so fortunate as to find streams and woods in which some unit had gotten rid of their gear. MG-42s, Mauser rifles, Assault rifles, stick grenades, etc. We would call the MPs and they and the EOD people would come pick it up. I tried to trade another kid a Walther P-38 with ammunition for his wagon once but he wouldn’t go for it.
    Iraq was very different. Iraq had even more weapons in it. the government had issued weapons to the people for a levee en masse against the Iranians if it came to that.
    Iraq never surrendeded. The Germans had surrendered and they very careully observed the terms of the surrender. There was no resistance. Any talk of a German resistance is just a fantasy on the part of some GI who wanted to sound good at home. pl

  19. Charles I says:

    William R., maybe they could have been disarmed by 500-600,000 troops in some years long quadrillage process, but with the troop numbers sent and intellectual calibre of those in charge, not a chance. They demolished the local monopoly on state violence in a state where the population had long been supplied with automatic weapons as a state policy.
    Japan and Germany were very different cultures and situations a long time ago at the zenith of American dominance. Shoot to kill in Iraq may have led to a far broader, angrier insurgency rather than compliance after a few media-tolerable bloodbaths aimed at disarming the country. I believe you’d have to fight them to unconditional surrender to disarm them – which might have been possible with 500,000+ troops
    Think of trying to disarm your own citizens, who are used to a bit of functioning civil society and the deference to authority and supra-tribal interests that the social contract tends to.
    Not much of that in Iraq, at a time when its obvious to all that the U.S. will be leaving and that’s that.

  20. mlaw230 says:

    On the seamlessness of Islamic society, I wonder if you could describe what a successful, stable Islamic society actually looks like, or historically looked like?
    It was my understanding from reading an essay by Professor Cole (from memory) that a separation of church and state was not really necessary as their had historically never been a union of church and state, i.e. that there was historically a secular political structure which was guided ,usually ineffectively, by the Mullahs who in turn lacked a clear hierarchy and thus true power. I believe he was referring to the old caliphate models.
    Isn’t the theocracy of Iran somewhat of a departure for Islam in that a hierarchy, and religious institutions were established as part of the government?
    Is the Iranian model significantly different than the arab model(s)? We should find out where they are headed so that we can lead them there.

  21. Patrick Lang says:

    I did not say anything about the seamlessness of Islamic SOCIETY. I said that for the pious Muslim LIFE is seamless. We are talking about notional ideals which people try to live by to the extent that they can.
    IF Juan said that, then I must differ. It is true that there was never a union of church and state. That is because Islam in the pure form does not recognize the legitimacy of any secular power. there has always been a very uneasy relationship between those who claimed merely secular government and the religious establishment. Thus, those who claim the title of “malik,” (king) or “sultan” (ruler) in their own right have always had to “manage” their relationships with the religious establishment and the truly “faithful” (mu’min) carefully. “Malik” implies personal ownership of the country, and “sultan” implies mere ability to rule by force majeur. The title of “ameer” carries a similar burden. For this reason “maliks” like those in Jordan and Morocco are better off than most because the ruling dynasts there are ackowledged “Alids” or descendants of the Prophet himself and therefore presumably endowed with the “baraka” (grace) which comes with that descent. For the same reason the Ottoman sultans claimed to be caliph (khalifa)of Islam and commander of the faithful as well as merely turkish strongmen.
    In 12er Shiism there has been a convention for many years that the Shia ‘ulema did not attempt to wrest power from the “shah” (emperor). Why? Because they knew they could not.
    If you study the long history of Islamicate civilization you will see that thus it has always been except at the very begining. pl

  22. Bill Wade, NH says:

    Add in the torture at Abu Graib, what armed Iraqi wouldn’t be fighting an insurgency after that got out into the public eye?

  23. Bart says:

    “For pious Muslims a separation of religious and political concerns is an unacceptable and alien Western notion.”
    A fact known by students of the region, and should have been posted widely in the Bush Pentagon and White House.

  24. cha says:

    Isn’t the same true for pious Christians. I don’t exactly see them clamoring for the separation of politics and religion

  25. Patrick Lang says:

    Well, the nuns who taught me as a child used to say that theocracy was the best form of government. That was a depressingly long time ago. (I thought their ideas were ridiculous then) The Catholic church has moved on and is completely accepting of the Enlightment idea of the separation of church and state. I know that there are Christians in this country who still do not, but they are a small minority.
    Islam as a system of thought and revelation does not accept that idea. pl

  26. cha says:

    There is a difference between being ruled by politicians that rule from a religious viewpoint and being ruled by the clergy. The Catholic church hasn’t moved to the idea that the clergy can’t be politicians because of the enlightenment but because politicians are seen as corrupt, two-faced liars which, it is sad to say, is very close to the truth. And allowing your clergy to be seen as corrupt, two-faced lairs is a very fast way to loose your flock.

Comments are closed.