Friday, December 26, 2008

Iraqi Political Analysis

The New York Times has an interesting article on what's going on in Iraqi politics at the moment. Offices in the Embassy have been closely following these developments. Why would we care about internal politics in a dysfunctional 3rd world nation? Because our withdrawal is closely tied to it. The better they get, the quicker we leave. It's that simple.

But, really, nothing is simple in Iraq. This country has forever been dominated by strongmen, whether a monarch or a thug (Hussein). Democracy and sharing power are difficult concepts for them to understand, much less implement. Our elections process in the US is difficult, ugly, and often bitter, and we've been doing it for over 200 years. If an Iraqi politician talked about his rival like American politicians do, he's liable to get shot. (Actually, they do talk about rivals like that, and they do get shot. Or bombed.)

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is trying to consolidate his power. Nothing unusual in that, really, all politicians in charge do that. He's getting a pretty strong and growing push-back from all sides of the political spectrum: Kurds, Sunnis, and Shia alike. Evidently what's saving him right now is that there's no obvious replacement. But they're working on it.

I overheard a couple of very experienced guys talking the other day. One said that, in the "old days", he could just tell the Iraqis to do this or do that. Now he has to suggest. And he couldn't be too direct, either: "maybe it would be a good idea if you considered this other option ..."

All of which sounds encouraging to me. It appears to be a normal political process being worked through by some politically savvy people who've never really had to do this sort of thing before. Our role should be to let them do it, with maybe some words of advice here and there. The sooner they can handle their own politics, the sooner we can get out.


  1. my opinion, not a lot has changed in that area, which includes the cradle of civilization, in hundreds, if not thousands of years, different regimes, empires, occupations, and Islam didn't get invented until 600AD, but as far as the people, nothings changed, it'll be the same when we leave, just who controls the area changes, they will still be fighting amongst themselves, the different groups, the violence will go and up and down, the same yesterday, today, and tommorrow, until the end of days, I think that the otherworldly gates to hell and heaven are probably there somewhere, it's a strange mystical place filled with discord, and as Dick Cheney said in a 1993 interview, sometime after Dessert Storm "If we'd gone to Baghdad and ousted Sadamm, it'd be a quagmire, with all the different groups wanting a piece of the country"

  2. I also think it'll be very difficult for them to keep a democracy. Russia is a good example of the idea I am trying to put forth.