Friday, November 18, 2005

Here's the deal. The insurgents in Iraq aren't stupid. They might not be astrophysicists, but they are crafty and wiley and cunning, and, yes- frequently evil. They know that nothing gets the blood of Americans boiling faster than attacks on American troops (or for that matter, American civilians). The insurgents want the Americans to leave Iraq, and they want to take control of the country, but the insurgents are smart enough to know that by mounting large scale attacks on American troops, they may draw the ire of the American people, and in so doing, actually build support for the war back in the U.S. (the American people, being what they are, typically want to punish anyone who overtly opposes us).
Here's the new gameplan among the insurgents ( a strategy which has actually in place for some time now):

Attack whichever parts of the Iraqi population support the U.S.. Punish the Iraqi people for allying themselves with the Americans, and soon the Iraqi people will want nothing more than to get the U.S. out of their country as fast as possible. Meanwhile, the American people will be getting tired of our unsuccessful war in Iraq, and without continued insurgent attacks against Americans to stoke our anger (Americans, sadly, seem mostly indifferent to the suffering of Iraqi civilians), we will grow tired of supporting the war and want our troops and our resources to be brought back home. The attacks on Iraqi civilians are meant to turn the Iraqi population against the continuing American occupation, making the Iraqi people afraid to cooperate in the rebuilding process, and thereby causing the American mission (of establishing a free, American-friendly Iraq) to fail. The farther the wedge is driven between the Iraqi people and the Americans, the worse things get in setting up the new Iraq. Things move more and more slowly and the American people get more and more impatient with the whole process.

Anyway, here's the most recent implementation of the insurgent strategy. 70 Shiite Muslims were killed by insurgents today in mosque bombings in Iraq. Big bombs. Nasty bombs.
Most Americans won't care because the deaths didn't really involve American casualties. The attacks are indicative of the growing divide between religious and tribal groups as they struggle for power in the new Iraq, but also underline tensions regarding the new, American style of government in a country which has traditionally been led and ruled along ethnic and religious lines. Sunni Muslims, who make up 32% to 37% of the Iraqi population, had a good run under Saddam Hussein, who favored Sunnis and massacred quite a few Shiites. Apparently the Sunnis aren't crazy about simply giving up on their position of power, but under an American, democratic system, the previously powerful Sunni minority is seeing some dark times in the days ahead, and it doesn't like what it sees.
So bombs go off and the Sunnis try to encourage even their adversaries, the Shiites, to pull for an American extraction.
The tensions between Shiites and Sunnis have been longstanding and a constant source of violence and animosity. Under Hussein's iron-fisted rule, the tensions simmered under the surface because Hussein, for the most part, would not tolerate the chaos and disorder that came from the friction between the two groups (i.e., the Sunnis and the Shiites didn't like each other, but they didn't hate each other enough to launch attacks on one another, given the fact that Hussein might imprison or execute them simply for disrupting the efficiency of his government). Now, with America's attention focused largely on trying to quell attacks on American forces and to stamp out opposition to the new Iraqi government, tribal and ethnic tensions between Shiites and Sunnis have once again begun to mount, and the threat of civil war or ethnic conflict looms large in a time when Iraq is struggling to set up a democratic government. The Sunnis resent the fact that they seem to be losing power under our new regime (and they have little or no faith that the rights of minority groups will be respected in the new Iraq), and the Shiites, now holding more power because of their status as Iraq's majority population, have been using their newfound power, through the police and the military and so forth, to ferret out and interrogate Sunnis (the Shiites claim they are hunting for Sunni insurgents while the Sunnis claim that the Shiites are just using their new, official positions to harrass the Sunnis).
The whole thing is an ugly mess, and if it isn't brought under control, it will not only hamstring efforts to institute a new government, but it'll probably end in civil war.
And if you're really into the idea of seeing the U.S. set up a new, more democratic society in Iraq, you should be concerned- not only because some Sunnis have an active role in supporting the insurgency, but because the Shiites may be using their position in the majority to oppress and harrass Sunnis, the group in the minority. (I can't say I'm too surprised that the Iraqi people don't seem to really understand the "majority rule with protection for minority rights" theory of government seeing as how so many people in our country don't really seem to understand it after 200+ years of democracy)

Here's the bottom line, people. If you're gonna be mad when the insurgents blow up Americans, you should be mad when they blow up innocent Iraqis. Otherwise, you're not only way too ethnocentric, but you're actually playing into the insurgent strategy and kind of saying that you don't care whether the Iraqis tear each other apart in a civil war (a civil war which we didn't cause, incidentally, but which never would have occurred without U.S. intervention in Iraq).

Sorry this is so random. I've been on the phone three times while writing it, and now I have to go.

Anyhoo, toodles.
Peace.

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