Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Doctor on Iraq

'The Doctor' is really no Dr. at all, just a good friend I have known for almost 25 years. We met in the early 80's while attending North Hennepin Community College. I was on the Student Senate and also the Legislative Director for the Minnesota Community College Student Association (MCCSA). The Doctor later became President of the MCCSA. He leans Right about as much as I lean left, so our debates can be spirited. Sometimes, on issues like guns and school choice, we take the opposite view of our ideological leanings.

Yesterday he had one of his many epiphanies and put together various thoughts on Iraq he had been mulling over. I felt it was worthy of a post of its own so my readers could cull his thoughts. Regardless of where you are on the issue, it is a well thought out screed with some outside the box thinking.

But that is only my view.

Doctor, the floor is yours:


I was thinking.

What to do about Iraq. When you stand back and look at it the answer appears obvious when you consider the inevitable.

Pick the winner !

The fundamental conflict in Iraq today is the Shiite and Sunni dispute. One that has waged on for this region for centuries. American presence has enabled the revitalization of this power struggle by eliminating Saddam who ruled oppressively against the Majority Shiite but kept relative order in the nation of warring factions. Most of the violence in Iraq today are these groups in a cycle of retaliation fueled by religious fervor and anti American presence. Saddam was embolden by American support and was prompted by us to wage war on their neighbor Iran.

It is somewhat presumptuous of us to assume we can enter a region and complete an "extreme makeover" on a society that has little in common with our own, who holds different values, traditions and bears different burdens from their past and perceives fundamental differences of what the promise of what the future holds. We certainly have the ability to initiate change and disruption through force but have little ability to provide lasting solutions to a problem that is not our own that we do not fully understand and attempt to manipulate for our own selfish benefit.

A most egregious American error was the dissolution of the Iraqi Army. This Army may have had ruthless leadership which maintained order, yet the dissolution created a power vacuum. Militia's were emboldened to fill the role on a local level lead by religious clerics. At the same time our national unity and coalition efforts became more of a window dressing to the world highlighted by a new token Iraqi Army. This Army was formed to satisfy pentagon quotas of boots needed to "do the job" without acknowledging leadership control, credibility and fear among the Iraqi people.

The first thing we need to ask ourself is if a unity government has a chance of surviving the future. Without a strong central Iraqi army, and leadership to balance the power between the factions, in the end it will be futile. The growth of Militias and their supporters have out paced the establishment of a national government. It has been a race which the militia has been gaining more and more strength and influence while the current Iraqi leadership continues to look inept and unable to move past fundamental problems inherent in trying to Westernize a society with so many complex issues.

Before we can decide what we should do next we have to look at ultimately where everything will end up. The likely result will be a civil war. The Shiite Majority, led by clerics like Sadr, have the numbers which have multiplied in the past few years. Backed by Iran they have or will soon have the ability to take over control of Iraq. In fact they currently control the votes needed for President Jalal Talabani (a Kurd) to maintain power. Seeing the two together it is obvious which among the two has confidence and control. Sadr is smart. They control votes for the existing coalition government while at the same time building their own internal organization. Sadr inherits the religious legacy from his father and grandfather and gives him a legitimacy for voice among the people.

During the most recent bloodiest day in Iraq, It was Sadr forces that was first to respond at the scene. Everything from security to medics to hospital visits handing out payments to victims for their suffering by taking action and planning revenge. The people of Iraq will rally to a true leader which they are doing in droves.

The most influential country to Iraq in the region is Iran. A neighbor that has much in common with each other. Common borders, economic opportunities for selling goods and services to each other and commonality among the peoples religion and hatred for America. While Iran is an Islamic Republic and has quirky social laws, they do represent a strong growing almost booming market economy that seem to go about their business without respect to what the country leadership is doing on an international scope. They have become a very westernized society (in middle east standards) despite American embargoes and efforts. The wounds of their war runs deep as 900,000 young men died in the war with Iraq that was planned, encouraged, and supported by Washington. They will continue to seek their own interest which we should do as well.

The outcome is obvious, without a strong central Iraqi army, the Shiite majority lead by Sadr will develop Iraq into an Islamic Republic. Why not just pick the ultimate winner now, give him support, engage Iran in discussions for mutual benefit and stop the killing sooner rather than latter. They will still be there long after we are gone when their children's children sing songs about their victory and our defeat.

The Doctor


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