Monday, January 15, 2007

Is Iraq the New Yugoslavia?

Before the Iraq war, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times wrote that Iraq could become the new Germany -- that is, it could unleash a country of great productivity and innovation -- because it was being held down by a brutal dictator; or, by invading, the U.S. would be creating a new Yugoslavia -- we could simply be taking a broken country and unleashing a civil war wherein ethnic, religious and tribal factions -- because they could only be held together by a brutal dictator.

Well, Mr. Friedman, I think we probably have your answer. It appears that Iraq is becoming a new Yugoslavia. It is a country that is being torn apart by all kinds of divisions: ethnic, religious and tribal. Could we have avoided this? Possibly. But like you said: this was a "war of choice." And we couldn't have fought it much worse. We went in with "just enough troops to lose." From the very start, we didn't win the peace. You said regarding the Iraq war: "if done wrong, the world will never be the same."

In Friedman's editorial from January 26, 2003, entitled Thinking About Iraq (II) Friedman wrote:

Think of it this way: If and when we take the lid off Iraq, we will find an envelope inside. It will tell us what we have won and it will say one of two things.

It could say, ''Congratulations! You've just won the Arab Germany -- a country with enormous human talent, enormous natural resources, but with an evil dictator, whom you've just removed. Now, just add a little water, a spoonful of democracy and stir, and this will be a normal nation very soon.''

Or the envelope could say, ''You've just won the Arab Yugoslavia -- an artificial country congenitally divided among Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis, Nasserites, leftists and a host of tribes and clans that can only be held together with a Saddam-like iron fist. Congratulations, you're the new Saddam.''

Congratulations! Iraq looks a lot more like the latter than the former.

So what now, Mr. Friedman? How do we put the Humpty Dumpty nation back together again? I realize hindsight is 20/20; but now that we have removed Saddam and his henchmen, how do we stop the sectarian violence? How do we convince people who seem to hate each other more than they love their children to stop their madness?

I certainly don't have the answer. Do you, Mr. Friedman?

1 comment:

Teri said...

People with short memories have forgotten that we maintained a "no-fly" zone over both the Kurdish and Shia zones for over 10 years. We could not continue to do that indefinitely. As soon as we lifted it, there would have been massive massacres of both populations. At that point,the world would be talking about why we didn't act sooner.

Much of the trouble in the area is being caused by the surrounding countries, trying to take advantage of the unrest to gain control of the area. We really should allow the country to split into three sections. The problem is that would lead to a Kurdish nation, something that Turkey opposes.