Iraqi History, the gift that keeps on giving
Remember how I posted all those columns on Iraqi history on Daily Kos?
Iraq is a place where outcomes matter. In 1920, two years after WW I, a nationwide rebellion erupted, and when asked, they're still mad at the British for invading and staying. In 1991, the minute Saddam looked on the ropes, the knives came out. Now, we've created a black hole of a power vacuum. There is no one close to running the country. The Army is gone, the Baathists dying by the bucketload, the various factions are waiting to claim their stake.
Yet, I'm reading articles crowing about how well the war went. The problem is that deposing Saddam is like dumping the Czar in 1917. Just because you establish a democratic government, doesn't mean Kerensky is going to stay in power. If you had said in 1916 that the US would be in Russia until 1920, fighting communists, you would have been deemed a madman.
Just because Saddam was an evil bastard, doesn't mean his methods were ineffective. He kept control of a country with millions of guns and two active factions not dedicated to the territorial integrity of the country. He killed a lot of people to remain in power. The US does not have this option. The war alone has ruined the credibility of the US in the Arab World. Saddam's methods are not available.
The US war against Saddam may soon be over, but that may only be the start of the Iraq war. There are millions of guns, rockets and mortars, billions of rounds of ammo, scattered across the country. No one knows who controls them or what they have planned. The Shia want control of their destiny, as do the Kurds, and the Sunnis may not be happy to lose power.
I wrote that on April 8, 2003.
This is what UPI ran on Friday.
The history of Iraq before the 35-year-long night of the Baath Republic descended upon it should have provided ample warning that once the lid was lifted off, those long decades of repression, more years of terrorism, assassination and massacre were only too likely to follow. For they were what had gone before.
Kanaan Makiya -- today one of the leading figures in the Iraqi democratic opposition and over the past decade and a half, one of the most fearless and perceptive critics of Saddam's tyranny -- summed up the history of Iraq's last decade of political turmoil before Saddam and his colleagues of the Baath took power -- and kept it -- in 1968.
Writing in his classic study "The Republic of Fear," he recalled, "Between 1958 and 1968 there were more than 10 coups and attempted coups two armed rebellions and a semicontinuous civil war against the Kurds."
The 37 years of supposedly constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy which the British Empire created in 1921 until its destruction in the frightful military coup and killings of 1958 was hardly a model of democratic and political propriety either. The late Professor Elie Kedourie of the London School of Economics, the greatest Western authority of his day on the modern political history of Iraq, described it up this way:
"Brief as it is, the record of the kingdom of Iraq is full of bloodshed, treason and rapine and, however pitiful its end, we may now say this was implicit in its beginning."
The Republic of Fear has been in print for a couple of decades.
Someone in Washington could have picked it up and read it.
It doesn't take a genius to see how this would play out, just bothering to read Iraqi history.
posted by Steve @ 8:19:00 PM