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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

 
Three Wars

by digby

Christopher Hitchens' reason for backing this war has always been that he loathes fascism and loves western liberal values over all else and they are worth killing for. He has been consistent in that, always holding out against the Islamo-fascists for being religious fundamentalists and well ... fascists. He's blind with arrogance and bloodlust --- and almost comically naive about the likelihood of the Bush administration actually delivering on its promises of a "non-sectarian" Iraq government.

Today he wrote a rather disjointed piece in Slate claiming that the war is actually three wars. The first is the glorious success of the "Kurd war" where everything is going along swimmingly. (Those truck bombs that killed more that 500 Yazidis, who are Kurds, are apparently what he means by "pin-prick events." )

The second war is the one where the surge is surging --- Anbar --- which he floridly describes as "the venomous rabble of foreign murderers and local psychopaths that goes to make up AQM has insanely overplayed its hand, lost all hope of local support, and is becoming even more vicious as its cadres are defeated." Huzzah!

And there there is the third war, which encompasses, well, the Iraq civil war:

The third area of combat is the most depressing. The Maliki government, in my opinion, showed its irredeemably sectarian character a long time ago by the dirty manner in which it carried out the execution of Saddam Hussein. Maliki himself has recently attacked the coalition forces for carrying out raids in Shiite districts of Baghdad. Perhaps he ought to be told that he is not being lent our armed forces for the purpose of installing Shiite power. The secular parties have walked out of his shaky Cabinet, and it is on these forces that our moral support should be concentrated. Let's put it like this: An American family that lost a son or a daughter in the defense of free Kurdistan or in the struggle against AQM could console itself that the death was in a worthwhile cause. The same could not be said for a soldier who fell in some murky street engagement, shot in the back by a uniformed policeman who was doing double duty as a member of a theocratic Shiite militia.

In Basra and elsewhere, these Shiite militias replicate the division among the Sunnis by fighting among themselves and by the degree to which they do or do not reflect the interference of Iran in Iraqi affairs. This subconflict—or these subconflicts—makes it hard to accept the proposal made by some U.S. politicians and pundits to the effect that the country should be partitioned along ethnic and religious lines. In that event, we would quite probably not end up with three neatly demarcated mini-states, one each in a three-way split among Sunni Arab, Shiite, and Kurd. Instead, there could be partitions within the partition, with Iran and Saudi Arabia becoming patrons of their favorite proxies and, in the meantime, a huge impetus given to the "cleansing" of hitherto-mixed cities and provinces. (This, by the way, as I never tire of saying, is what would have happened to Iraq when Saddam's regime collapsed and the country became prey to neighboring states and to the consequences of 30 years of "divide and rule" politics.)


Like it isn't happening now, I guess.

(And Americans are supposed to be thrilled to have their children die in "defense of a free Kurdistan?" Jesus, I think they may have thought they were stopping a genocidal maniac from unleashing chemical weapons on innocent people or liberating Iraq and spreading freedom and winning the Global War on Terror. I doubt any of them are quite as happy as Hitchens is that their loved one died "defending a free Kurdistan," which isn't even its own country.)

But as depressing as the "bad war" is --- the one that is actually tearing the country apart --- Hitchens hasn't given up hope that someday it will be as successful as the first two "good wars." He calls on all politicians to acknowledge the two good ones even as they condemn the bad:


The ability to distinguish among these different definitions of the "war" is what ought to define the difference between a serious politician and a political opportunist, both in Iraq and in America. The obliteration of political life and civil society by Saddam Hussein's fascism has meant that most of the successor political figures are paltry (and the Kurdish exception to this exactly proves the point: Kurdistan escaped from Baathist control a full decade before the rest of Iraq did). It will take a good while before any plausible nonsectarian figures can emerge from the wasteland and also brave the climate of murder and intimidation that the forces of the last dictatorship, and the would-be enforcers of an even worse future one, have created.


How long is a good long while? Funny, he doesn't mention the new Iraqi It-Boy, the resolutely non-sectarian Ayad Allawi, at all. You know, former Mukhabarat agent and Baathist who personally executes prisoners? The new product the entire GOP establishment is rolling out and marketing like the second coming of Thomas Jefferson?

If things go according to Hitchens' new best friends, the neocons', plans, it is very likely that the United States will quite soon install a tyrannical psychopath fascist to run Iraq now that the entirely predictable sectarian, sub-sectarian civil war is already roaring. But he's secular. Very non-sectarian.

Maybe once Allawi is installed and brings the hammer down, Hitchens will face the fact that trusting a bunch of neoconservative oil men to give a damn about secular western values and democracy might not have been the wisest course. It's so amusing that this jaded, cosmopolitan intellectual was so easily taken in by a bunch of Straussians.



Update: I'm reliably informed by Chris Hayes that while the Yazidi speak Kurdish,(and Wikipedia says they are centered in Mosul, Kurdistan and are considered ethnic Kurds) they are definitely not considered Kurds by other non-Yazidi Kurds. They are a very distinct and unusual religion --- kind of like the Mormons of Iraq.

It's an important distinction when considering if the Non-Yazidi Kurds have gotten things more or less in order as Hitchens implies. To the extent that they have quelled the worst kind of sectarian violence between themselves and the various arab Muslims in their region, it's quite true.

I would only add that if Yazidi are now being blown up in large numbers it doesn't exactly support the idea that all is hearts and flowers in Kurdistan, however. They are a despised minority who are being killed, which I would think tends to put those horrific bombings into the category of the sub-sectarian conflict Hitchens claims we prevented by invading.


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