Iraq War #13

Originally posted January 5, 2005

I haven’t written much on Iraq for several months now. I didn’t see the use. The insurrection is unfolding pretty much as I had predicted. The attacks on our troops and Iraqis who are working with us are growing in frequency and I think in effectiveness. The elections are in about 3 weeks, and Bush is promising that they are still planning on holding them. It seems a great amount of importance is being placed on these elections, mostly by American politicians who are eager to (1) get out of there, and (2) want to demonstrate that we are the good guys.

Perhaps the elections will come off just fine. Personally, I think the odds are that they won’t. Most of the country is relatively quiet, and the Administration points to that calm as a sign that most Iraqis support the U.S. and the election. My take on it is that the majority Shiites are poised to take over the government and see no reason to get impatient and cause problems for a force that is, after all, beating the bejesus out of their adversaries the Sunnis. All the Shiites have to do is to win the elections, then they can either tell us to get out or they could continue using us to fight the Sunnis. When Shiite keader al Sadr was making trouble for our forces, I can just imagine the conversation the Sistani’s representatives had with him. Something like, “What are you, an IDIOT? Let the Americans do our dirty work as long as we can get them to do it. Use this break to organize and equip your militias. As long as they keep killing Sunnis, we let them. When they are no longer useful, we tell them to get out. If they don’t leave, we kill them.”

About a month ago while contributing to a blog, I presented some potential results that would serve as indicators that things are not going well there.
1) The elections are not held. This would likely anger the majority Shiites, as they then have to wait a little longer for power, plus they start to suspect that maybe we have no intention of ever turning power over to them.
2) The elections are held, but there’s not much participation, especially from the Sunnis. This is the most likely scenario, and plays right into Shiite hands.
3) The elections are held, but Sistani says they are not legitimate. Perhaps he thinks we rigged them to put US-friendly leaders into office. Our position would likely become untenable pretty quickly.
4) The elections are held, and the Shiites gain the power they’re after. They decide Sharia looks pretty good, universal suffrage is not such a good idea, maybe the mullahs should run things, and ties with the Shiites in Iran would be a good thing.

I’m sure I could come up with other scenarios, most of them bad. As I said earlier, maybe this will all turn out ok. Maybe Bush has this all figured out. My bet ise that we have wasted a fair amount of treasure and lives, and will have made the world worse for it. As always, time will tell.

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