Saturday, February 03, 2007

# Posted 10:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

...."All the Shiites have to do is tell everyone to lay low, wait for the Americans to leave, then when they leave you have a target list and within a day they'll kill every Sunni leader in the country. It'll be called the 'Day of Death' or something like that," said 1st Lt. Alain Etienne, 34, of Brooklyn, N.Y. "They say, 'Wait, and we will be victorious.' That's what they preach. And it will be their victory."

[Lt. Dan] Quinn agreed.

"Honestly, within six months of us leaving, the way Iranian clerics run the country behind the scenes, it'll be the same way here with Sadr," said Quinn, 25, of Cleveland. "He already runs our side of the river."

After U.S. units pounded al-Sadr's men in August 2004, the cleric apparently decided that instead of facing American tanks, he'd use the Americans' plans to build Iraqi security forces to rebuild his own militia...

(Hat tip: KD)
If this trend bears out, it could undermine both the Democratic and Republican approaches to Iraq. Even a successful surge won't result in much of a chance for peace if hardline Shi'ites control the armed forces. Nor will an international conference and American withdrawal do much to bring about any kind of settlement.

Even though I'm an idealist, this trend suggests the most effective approach to Iraq would be brutally realist. Forget about the Sunnis. Keep working with the Shi'ite government and reach out to Sadr. My sense of the latter is that he is extraordinarily opportunistic.

My sense is the Shi'ites don't want to be controlled by Teheran but need protection from their Sunni neighbors. The US could help them achieve both objectives.

The price of this approach may be turning a blind eye to a horrific slaughter.


(6) opinions -- Add your opinion

This seems to be a major shift in your view of Iraq. Welcome to the dark side.

My sense is the Shi'ites don't want to be controlled by Teheran but need protection from their Sunni neighbors.

The new NIE agrees with this and goes even further:

Iraq’s neighbors influence, and are influenced by, events within Iraq, but the involvement of these outside actors is not likely to be a major driver of violence or the prospects for stability because of the self-sustaining character of Iraq’s internal sectarian dynamics.

Read that as 'this is more about Iraq and less about its neighbors' with the implication that a partition could work. The Kurds have already done this.

Alas, with Bush you will get two more expensive bloody humiliating years. It will get worse.
Sadr may have a black hat, but he doesn't look to healthy. If you have to reach out to him, give him a heart attack.

Sistani may be in Iran's pocket already and it might not work, but if he isn't he is a corpse when we leave. The mullahs won't welcome him into the circle if they can eliminate him. Why not look to him instead of Sadr, cut some throats and be on our way?
The price of this approach may be turning a blind eye to a horrific slaughter.

Meaning that the US publicly ignores the deaths of (say) a few tens of thousands Muslims in the centre of the Middle East?

Morals aside, I do not like this option.
To me there really is only one guiding light-- what is in America's interest? It seems clear that we would like to set up a counter-weight to Iran, and also derail its drive to become a regional superpower. Ideally, I suppose, we would also like to be able to keep a sizeable military presence in the area, presumably somewhere in Iraq, or the nascent Kurd-istan.

I can't help but think that people are putting too much stock in the Shite/Sunni distinction. What I mean is that I don't believe for a minute that religion alone is going to get the "new" Iraq to agree to become Iran's lapdog. Plenty of Shites have killed other Shites.

We want a strong central government in Iraq... perhaps one just shy of a military dictatorship? Once they can hold the country together, I doubt they will be in any hurry to throw away their autonomy. The only other thing we need is that Iraq not become a haven for religious zealots. I'm not sure how you do that in the Middle East, but knocking al Sadr down a peg or two seems like a good place to start.
Since hardly any improvement is being made on the Iraq War, we Americans need to spend our resources on other issues such as global poverty in order to discourage more terrorism and wars. According to the Borgen Project, in reality only .16% of the US federal budget is spent on poverty reduction, the least among wealthy nations. We should let our representatives know that we want change.
A religeon That preaches that you
have to kill somebody to reach the promised land or paradise is a barbarian,heathenistic, pagan religeon.
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