The situation in Iraq is volatile, but not without hope. However, due to the poverty and isolation the Iraqi people have been in, it was likely that they would turn to radical politics to give them solutions. However, this won’t be a permament feature, just like it wasn’t in Iranian society after the Shah was overthrown. Look, I’m not excusing the fact that fundamentalists have been running roughshod over Iraqis, however if proper security is in place and the government becomes viable, then the kind of extremism you’ve quoted won’t be as commonplace.
The US works with Shia Islamist parties because, erm, they were duly elected by the population.
Come on, even for Shia Iraq, it’s hardly comparable to the Taliban.
So what? We’ve battled against Shia militias as well. Notably Moqtadas. Besides, like you’ve hinted before in other posts, giving people the chance to elect their leaders is sometimes having to prepare yourself for people being voted that you don’t like.
While I tend to agree with your overall assessment, RTF, there is a glimmer of hope. It’s my impression that a lot of the repressive policies were spawned by local leaders in the vacuum that existed while the national government tries to sort itself out. The best case scenario is that this national government reigns in these local practices as they begin to formulate legislation and enforce the fledgeling constitution. It may very well be that this coalition gov’t never gets control of Baghdad and is simply ineffective in the outer provinces, but I’m willing to give it a chance before announcing defeat.
Not that I’m saying even that optimistic scenario justifies the war retroactively. It was a terrible idea before we invaded, and it remains a terrible idea.
Hey, nobody told us that going in. We were told that the Iraqis were educated and secular, and ready for Western-style democracy.
Iranian revolution: 1979
Islamic radicals still running Iran: 2006.
Not permanent, but let’s put it this way: if the rule of Islamic radicals is just as ‘impermanent’ in Iraq as it has been in Iran, the radicals will still be running things in 2030. We didn’t invade Iraq in 2003 in order to bring Western-style democracy to Iraq by 2030.
And if I were king of the world…
True. But that doesn’t diminish the reality that their rule bears an uncanny resemblance to Abiziad’s description of life under the ‘bad guys’ in the War on Terror.
Hey, he listed what he found despicable about the Taliban, and the Shi’ites we’re fighting for share those traits. And just because their executions are impromptu street executions, rather than in soccer stadiums, that isn’t exactly an improvement in the one area where they differ.
Only when they were attacking our troops. We have not fought them on the basis that they are religious totalitarians.
I’ve not just hinted it; I’ve said it quite clearly.
If you want democracy in this part of the world, you do indeed have to be ready for the reality that people are going to vote in some regimes that are every bit as nasty as the ones they replaced, just in different ways. In this region, you’re going to replace autocrats or kings and princes with religious fundamentalists.
The question is, should we act to advance or retard these changes, and if so, to what extent? In particular, since this Abiziad quote is a ‘why we fight’ quote, the question is, would we send American troops to fight and die for the coming wave of Islamic fundamentalist regimes?
And my answer is, of course not - don’t be silly. Those regimes practice the sort of brutality we abhor; Abiziad’s right about that.
Which brings us face to face, once again, with the fact that we’re fighting and dying for one right now. We’re fighting for the very thing we’re told we’re fighting against.
And maybe we should pick our fights. We have a massive inurgency there that likes to kill people at random, including all westerner/troops. After we settle that a bit we can start policing the random thugs.
So am I. It’s just that I’d give it more of a chance if the war’s architects were willing to acknowledge that, at least for the moment, we are in fact dealing with the devil because there’s no one better to deal with. But that we’ve got a plan under which we think Iraq has at least some chance for moving from religious fundamentalist rule to a somewhat more moderate version of Islamic law.
If our planners don’t admit to themselves where we are, and what the limits are on what can be reasonably accomplished from here, then all the plans in the world won’t help.
Escellent point. Bush shows now evidence that he considers this to be a problem, and while I appreciate the necessity for being “diplomatic”, I don’t really see that that’s the main reason. Surely there is a way of communicating publicly that we do not support certain actions without pissing those guys off.
Most of them are, but you know, some of them can be highly religious in the same manner, none are mutally exclusive, dare I say there are religious Iraqis who only see democracy and rule of law as the only way for successful government in Iraq? Also you might want to disregard like I said before, educated professionals being turned towards radical politics after being repressed for so long, even though they were the majority. That’s the backlash we’re seeing today because of Saddams repression.
Iranian revolution: 1979
Islamic radicals still running Iran: 2006.
Yet look at both societies and tell me which is more inclined to secular politics more than ever and which isn’t. I think the one which experienced the 1979 revolution would suffice as an answer.
But the Iranians don’t have a multi confessional system which checks and balances to ensure that religion can always dominate politics. In Iraq, there is room for either religious or secular politics to take part, in Iran there is not.
Don’t answer the question, but the type of islamic radicalism you’re seeing in the form of governance will always go back to either corruption (Just like the Baathists) or incompetence, or both.
I don’t hear Sistani calling out the Sunni and Secular Kurds as heathens who ought to be executed.
Most of Iraqs population are Shia, so, in effect most of the political parties are going to reflect that kind of religious extremism in their political stance. This isn’t just a bunch of random fundamentalists wanting to erase the largely secular Iraqi population, but a symptom of what they’ve been through, which is being unable to find outlets to express themselves politically. That’s why so many in the South support them.
No some Shiites were/are fighting for those traits, not all Shiites share that same type of goal of a Shia Taliban. You seem to lump religious moderates and extremists in the same group.
But there is one difference, it’s not official government policy to execute those who see a different viewpoint on how their religion should be expressed. In Afghanistan it was, but in Iraq you have a government at least trying to stop it.
Only because if they enter the political process, it’s easier for them to be defeated at the ballot box rather than the bullet of a gun. Imprisoning religious leaders because their ‘totalitarians’ only strengthens their case of being martyrs to their cause. Which I seem to think we’re trying to avoid.
But then ask yourself, what Fundamentalist Islamic regime would adhere to the checks and balances that they’re agreed to when forming the constitution, electing officials and trying to avoid civilian deaths and overtures to different sections of the population (Sunnis and Kurds of course)
We’re actually fighting for a system of government in Iraq which can vote in and vote out those religious parties, and expose them for what they’re really are. Only then will Islamic extremism be discredited when it’s open to debate and challenges at the ballot box.
Only if you have a one sided view on things, then yes.
Um, I hate to disillusion you, but there are many people within living memory far worse that George W. Bush ever thought of being. I’m not overly fond of the particular style of imperialistic Americanism he espouses, but in point of fact, he generally means well. There are appeals to the worst in jingoism and truly venal traits in Bush and his cronies, but America has survived similar people in the past.
One of the nice things about the situation, and they’re becoming fewer and fewer, is that there’s an assortment of factions – so any stable government is going to have to represent a compromise, not the coming to power of extremists. Unless we let a French Revolution happen, which I believe we would prevent.
Well, this may seem strange to say after November 2000, but I believe in democracy, in the right to choose one’s leaders at the polling place. And I think that’s a human right, not an American right. So unless we take the view that Iraqis cannot govern themselves and we have to do it for them, which I sincerely hope is not what anyone’s advocating, then yes, they are what the public chose, and we do have to work with them.
I believe we had a great deal to do with getting the Soviet Union driven out of Afghanistan. Everything else followed with the inevitability of sewage sludge flowing downhill.
I’m not talking about how bad a person he is; I’m talking about how he fails at everything he does, and always has. And I don’t think he means well.
Or we can just refuse to support them.
I’m not sure; that’s why I posed it as a question.
No, religious ones, not that it matters. Exchanging one tyranny for another with tens of thousands of deaths seems like a pointless disaster to me.
We have no mandate; we are the invaders, the predators.
A contradictory statement; it’s a safe bet the part about human rights and the press will be ( and are ) ignored, and the Islam part adhered to. Undisputed laws leave no room for compromise or tolerance.
The central fact is that every one of the stated goals of the invasion was plainly achieveable by non-military means.
Why then was military force used? Because the use of force was an imperative. A central part of the administration’s policy and response to the airline/bombings.
To circle back to the OP, the US is not fighting for/against anything. The fighting is an end in and of itself. Current fighting is a consequence of that primary imperative.
Now, the consequences of the imperative to use force are another matter to discuss. There is a lot of noise about failed state in Iraq, torture this, massacre that and so on. But on the other hand Bush kept faith with the values of his constituency, involved the states with a large recruitment base in current politics and with those dual motivations they voted and he was re-elected.
Sorry: secular and religious do happen to be mutually exclusive.
You may dare; I’ll dare say it too. The question is, democracy within what parameters? (If ‘democracy’ applies only to questions not believed to be settled by the Koran, it’s still democracy, but not as we would think of it.) And rule of law…well, even the insurgents ultimately want rule of law; it’s just a question of which laws, and who gets to write them.
Got a cite for that? I’ve never, ever, ever read anything remotely suggesting that.
I agree - if the Iranians don’t feel threatened from without, the people of Iran will be inclined to secular politics.
But exactly what does that get you?
Politics isn’t controlling much in Iraq these days. People can vote, and the politicians they elect can vote on stuff in the Green Zone, and that determines whose militia can put on state uniforms, but that’s not the real action.
There was no question. You said good things would happen IF other improbable good things would happen. Hence my ‘IF I were king of the world’ response.
I missed that in the Abiziad quote. Could you point me to it?
You may be right on the ‘why’, but I wasn’t debating that. I was merely pointing out that the fundies in the south were running things in a certain way, and that that way bore a close resemblance to what Abiziad said we were fighting against.
OK, where in Shi’ite Iraq can women dress like even modestly-attired Western women, where can they meet with men unchaperoned, where can people listen to a wide range of music (even if not American rock n’ roll), where do ordinary people not have to worry about religious thugs?
Can you produce a cite of Iraqi security forces trying to prevent the Islamic militia from enforcing their ways?
Oh, I agree. Nonetheless, that’s the why, not the what. I’m not arguing the why.
I’m not sure what point you’re making here.
Well, we say we are, but we’ve effectively taken the Shi’ite side in a Sunni-Shi’ite civil war: the insurgency we’re trying to defeat is Sunni, and the government we’re propping up is Shi’ite-dominated.