Iraq is an artificial entity, a facade, created earlier this century by Western colonial powers. There is no legacy Iraq(i) people or country. The respective north, central and southern factions, Kurd, Sunni, and Shia consider their ethnic and sectarian loyalties paramount, leaving no common nationalistic base upon which to build a unified nation. What makes it even more challenging, all would rather secede.
The ingredients to constructively nation build in Iraq therefore don't exist and never will. The warring cultures, no democracy history, and no interest in being unified present huge impediments. Iraq is held together by the gun (us), and not very well, and when the gun leaves, any artificially built nation will disintegrate. Everything has a natural order and a unified Iraq is not one of them.
Nation building is a constructive approach when people collectively seek it. This is not the case in Iraq. At best, the Kurds want nothing to do with the Sunnis, while the Sunnis and Shias want even less to do with each other. In fact, they want segregation. Why then force national integration when the necessary polarity and democracy underpinnings to bring that volatile mix together don't exist. The brutal regime of Sadaam Hussein ruthlessly controlled that chaos through terrorizing force. That is not us, and never will be, making our strategy appear naive and doomed from the start.
Imposing anything, much less a structure or value system on another is a trigger for even greater rebellion; evidence the exploding insurgency, which is being fed by our presence. It too becomes chronic, not curable if we stay. Ironically, our withdrawal and civil war being the only cure.
The parallels between Iraq and the former Yugoslavia are evident, replete with lessons learned. Iraq was a western concoction, born from the spoils of European conquest of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The British forced the three regional interests noted into the geographic entity we today call Iraq. The glue to hold it together was to be a completely unfamiliar monarchy style government. That imposed structure soon prompted revolt and insurrection. While the entity Iraq survived, the monarchy was replaced by a more familiar totalitarian regime.
The democratization we seek is as unfamiliar to the Iraqis as was the monarchy imposed by the British. Time may have lapsed but attitudes, tradition and culture clearly have not. We are experiencing the same as the British did, and with very clear messaging, leave and don't forcibly hold this entity together. Rather than just promote democracy, it is time for us to respect it. The three factions have spoken.
The Sunday Sept 17,2006 Star Ledger, specifically the front page of the Perspective Section provides the opinion of Prof Eric Davis, Professor of Political Science and member of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University. In his piece, he takes the view that democracy is the only logical option of 3 available to the U.S. The other two being phased withdrawal and dividing Iraq into 3 "statelets".
Never does he suggest a fourth - civil war. In fact, his democratization approach suggests we remain until the (Iraqi) government stabilized.
The point however being made in this article, is that Iraq can't be stabilized and won't last, that is as the "Iraqi" government.
Senator Biden has too gingerly proposed the formation of a politically mandated three state-like ("statelets" ala Prof. Davis) Iraq. Gingerly, from the standpoint that while it's the right direction, he falls far short of the right solution, which requires a strong stomach. The answer is not unification through separation as he proposes, but rather separation through de-unification, which can only be achieved by that which he too avoids, civil war. The fundamental flaw therefore to both his and Prof. Davis' plans or solutions is that the Iraq entity remains. For a successful solution to take hold, it can't.
The only sustainable structure is one not dictated to but rather decided by the three factions. That will only happen after we leave the country and/or withdraw to remote bases, and the hate is exhausted vis a vis civil war. The ensuing bloody conflict, albeit mitigated with Arab nations provoked from their current content position on the sidelines to intervene, will finally lead the three factions to constructively negotiate their own cooperative terms. Since Iraq won't exist, rather than Iraq or Biden, call it the Arab (Tripartite) Solution. The agreed, rather than imposed outcome being one lost and three new independent self governing additions to the United Nations.
Author's Note: While civil war is all but inevitable, if not already to some degree taken root, the author still strongly advocates from prior articles, an immediate "3 for 1 and Done" controlled withdrawal exit strategy. We started this and we need to promptly finish our part honorably and immediately complete the liberation mission.
Bottom line, we have no option but to leave. The question then is whether we do it honorably or not. The window of opportunity for an honorable controlled withdrawal is fast closing. If it does, we're left with what no one wants - "cut and run".