Iraq’s only way out

On December 2, 2005 I posted a piece called Planted Stories and More wherein I discussed the then hot subject of our Pentagon’s paying Iraqi journalists and newspapers to plant stories favorable to our point of view. I noted that the timing on the disclosure of this program was particularly ironic in that it came to light just as the president released his strategy for victory in Iraq, which included the need to support a free, independent and responsible Iraqi media. More to the point, however, the “and more” portion of the title referred to a section in the piece where I proposed that we look to the Balkans for the solution to Iraq, vis a vis:

Perhaps it behooves us to look once again at the way rebuilding has taken place in the Balkans inasmuch as it surely is a model for enlightened nation restructuring. It doesn’t take an overactive imagination to see the similarities between Milosevik’s Yugoslavia and Saddam’s Iraq. Insofar as the intervention itself is concerned, Yugoslavia/Serbia was no threat to the U.S. or NATO members and yet action was taken and justified as being humanitarian. That war was also preemptive. Our motives and methods with respect to Iraq may have been strikingly different but we are there now and our only legitimate mission at this point is to bring structure and peace to the region.

Yesterday Shlomo Avineri published a fine piece in the Jerusalem Post which takes that idea, fills it in so beautifully and builds on it in such a way that though I promised in my piece to revisit the idea with more detail, I must let Mr. Avineri speak for me. He articulates perfectly what must undoubtedly come to pass in Iraq and why. The alternatives – and there are some – are not nearly so satisfactory. A few brief excerpts (but click on the headline for the full essay):

Far from expressing the free choice of the Iraqi people, the [recent] elections showed how helplessly the country is divided along its religious and ethnic fault lines.

Ethnic and religious-bloc voting also suggests how strong local pressure to vote along communal lines must have been. This was not an election expressing freedom; it was a manifestation of ethnic and religious identity and conformism.

It is clear that Iraq, stitched together by British imperialists in the 1920s from three very disparate provinces of the old Ottoman Empire, is not a country any more.

There seems to be no power able to hold Iraq together. Attempts to set up a national unity government, in which all groups will be represented, have failed in the three months since the December elections. Such attempts will probably fail in the future as well, even if they are papered over by some verbal, worthless face-saving formula.

Iraq is going the way of the former Yugoslavia. When ethnic and religious groups are unable and unwilling to live together in a country held together by force and lacking any democratic traditions, disintegration may be the only way out.

Maybe three states in what used to be Iraq have a better chance – as occurred in Yugoslavia – of leading to some stabilization and even democratic development.

These are mere excerpts from a brilliant piece in which Mr. Avineri proposes what to me seems the irrefutably logical way of restructuring, as he says, what used to be Iraq.

As I said in my piece, “That strategy might also work particularly well in respect of what the primary parties of Iraq (the Sunnis, Shia and Kurds) might want in their respective heart of hearts, now that the governance of their country has been so thoroughly destructured and opened to creative design.”

Yes, the governance of Iraq has been thoroughly destructured. Please click the headline and read what is surely the only way to rationally restructure this once proud country and prevent what is now a disaster in the making.

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