Sunday, April 27, 2008

RE: Divorcing Iraq

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Bill Maher
Date: Apr 18, 2008 10:52 AM


Conservatives, and especially the neo-cons, got this sentimental idea into their heads that all Iraq needed was a taste of American-style freedom and all would be well. They thought, "Sunnis, Shiites--forget all that. Once these people get a load of us and what we're offering, they'll come drifting out of their homes wiping away tears of gratitude and welcome a new post-Saddam era of democracy." It was a grand plan: creating a new, oil-rich, democratic ally in the Middle East. Too bad it was based more on naïve, fairytale wishes than on any semblance of practical reality.



It's like the new bride marrying into a violently conflicted, dysfunctional family thinking, "Once they're exposed to my values and a little of my TLC, they'll all see the light and get along." No, sorry, some problems run much deeper than feel-good, better-way solutions.



We're seeing it in Iraq's latest security problems. Shiites are fighting Sunnis, Sunnis are fighting al Qaeda, Shiites are fighting Shiites and we're operating on a broad policy based on some imagined, unified Iraqi military "standing up." As President Bush said in a news conference last June, "Our policy is stand up/stand down; as the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down." Well, they are standing up, but not as one, cohesive, nationalistic, pro-democracy army. They're standing up as separate warring enclaves bent on destroying each other.



The Iraqi government just had to purge 1,300 soldiers and policemen from their security ranks, some of them senior officers like lieutenant colonels and brigadier generals, because they either refused to fight or switched sides during the recent conflict in Basra. It's lovely to imagine a unified Iraqi army "standing up," but when the lead starts flying, old tribal loyalties supersede allegiance to the new occupier-endorsed command.



Isn't it time to realize that this marriage isn't working out? As the new bride, we've tried to goad, to entice and to shame our new in-laws into behaving according to our ideals. But our presence isn't so much resolving conflict as it is postponing it. Sometimes divorce isn't a surrender or a defeat; it's a simple recognition that the whole idea was a mistake in the first place.

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