The past several weeks Bill Maher has been asking his guests if we need to bring Saddam back. Mahr suggests that the only way to keep Iraq under control might be to have an authoritarian leader who can quell the tribal society and its warring factions...if not Saddam, then someone like Saddam.
Bill Maher is a bright and funny guy, so I don't see why he doesn't ask the next logical question: does it make sense to try to hold Iraq together as a single nation merely because of how the borders were drawn after World War One?
Cenk Ugyur has written a post titled There is No Iraq which discusses this very issue.
Of course, letting the Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds each go their separate ways would be a big step and could cause more turmoil in the region. The Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, and Iran have been trying for years to form an independent Kurdistan and have been ruthlessly repressed by all three countries.
But isn't that just the sort of oppression that the Bushies currently claim we invaded Iraq to prevent?
Ardalan Hardi's post Why Should we Split Iraq? suggests that the Turks might be willing to compromise on the Kurdish issue because their violent repression of the Kurds has been complicating their bid to enter the European Union.
Of course, racism is probably as big an obstacle for the Turks, and much of Turkey's fresh water supply lies within greater Kurdistan...so I'm not saying that these obstacles are insignificant.
But since the current strategy seems to be ramping up into a civil war, maybe we should consider the option of letting the different nations of Iraq become separate nation-states?
I'm not the only one thinking along these lines. Jon Thompson puts it well.
Obviously we [the U.S.] are unwilling to impose such a brutal regime on Iraq, so the next best solution is dividing the country along sectarian lines.
This solution is not without its problems, but it may be the most likely to work. The United States’ relationship with Turkey will be severely damaged if the United States recognizes Kurdistan as an independent nation. Sunni Iraq will be left impoverished without any oil revenue, and will likely become a failed state much like Palestine. The Arab Sunni leaders in Iraq are all very weak, and it’s unlikely that any of them could keep terrorists out. Shiite Iraq would most likely align closely with Iran. Despite all this, the alternatives - full-blown civil war, or a Shiite sectarian government imposing its will on the other groups - are even less appetizing.
The war in Iraq will possibly go down in history as the single greatest foreign policy disaster in American history. The Vietnam War may have been more destructive in terms of lives lost and money spent, but our defeat in Vietnam did not have many long-term effects. I wish the same could be said of Iraq. |Jon Thompson|